Neighbors 'shocked' Wichita woman tried to burn her 9-year-old son in Florida
WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) - Lakenya Phillips is facing several charges after she and her boyfriend tried to set her 9-year-old son on fire because they say he was possessed by a demon.
Phillips' neighbors say they would see her 9-year-old son riding his bike around the neighborhood all the time, now they're confused, to why Phillips would try to set her son on fire.
“Sounds pretty crazy. I didn't didn't know anything about it. We know that the police had been there a while back and we were kind of curious what was going on,” said Tony Pearce, a Wichita neighbor.
Pearce is one of many neighbors wondering what was going on at Lakenya Phillips' home last week. Investigators say she and her nine-year-old son went missing on December 6th.
Tuesday, authorities found them in Highlands County, Florida.
Law enforcement says Phillips and her boyfriend Richard Ham were burning her 9-year-old son's belongings because they thought he was possessed by a demon.
"Never seen something where somebody was thinking their child was possessed by a demon and tried to put the child into a fire,” said Scott Dressel, with the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office in Florida.
Investigators say the couple even put Phillips' 9-year-old son into the fire and covered him with a blanket that was also on fire. He escaped.
“Right now he's safe. He's with the Department of Children and Families who are trying to find family members hopefully that he can go stay with. I know that there have been several members of our community who have stepped up and are making sure that he's going to have a nice Christmas,” said Dressel.
The Highlands County Sheriff says when deputies arrived on the scene, Ham tried to attack them with two metal rods. Deputies tased him, but they say it didn't phase him. And he attacked again. Hitting a deputy on the head. That's when Law Enforcement shot and killed Ham and arrested Phillips.
All of this left her neighbors back in Wichita shaken.
“She seemed perfectly normal,” said Pearce.
Several neighbors say Phillips had recently split from her husband, and they'd never met Richard Ham.
“They seem really nice. Like really nice couple, but I know we hadn't seen her for a while. We assume that maybe they'd split it up or something. Her kids used to get off [the bus] at the corner here,” said Pearce.
Phillips' nine-year-old son also told authorities that Ham threatened him with a knife, and said he'd killed someone with it in the past. Florida authorities are talking to Wichita Police about the case.