A Nevada couple has been arrested in a horrible child abuse case after authorities discovered a child’s corpse, a starving infant, and an imprisoned teenage girl who had been raped and impregnated by her stepfather.
Jondrew Lachaux, 39, and Kellie Phillips, 38, turned themselves into authorities after the three children were discovered in what authorities describe as a “twisted, gruesome case of abuse.”
According to court documents, Lachaux and his wife, Phillips, took five of their seven combined children on a trip, leaving behind two of their daughters. The older of the two daughters, a teenager, was already pregnant by her stepfather, Lachaux, and the other child was the 3-year-old biological daughter of Lachaux, who has been described as “sickly.” The two girls were left behind, reports say, because the rental vehicle the couple used for their trip was “full.”
The two girls were left in the suburban Las Vegas home with limited food and medication. The teen was not receiving any medical care for her pregnancy, and eventually gave birth, at home, alone and without any assistance, to a baby girl who is now 4-months-old. The teen struggled to take care of herself as well as her 3-year-old sister, but she told authorities that she was too scared to call for help, even after the food and medication left by Kellie Phillips, her mother, ran out.
Police Sergeant Chrissie Coon explained, “The totality of evidence is leading investigators to believe she was almost a prisoner in her home. Fugitives can psychologically confine their victims without physically being present.”
According to the teen, the 3-year-old girl began to have trouble breathing and died about a month ago. At that point, the teen began calling her parents. Her calls weren’t returned for two weeks. When Lachaux finally did contact the teen, the teen informed him that his daughter had died and that there was a “really bad smell” coming from the child’s corpse.
“The parents were ignoring her phone calls. The baby eventually died. And then this male adult instructs her on how to dispose of the body,” said Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson.
Lachaux returned from Oakland, California, where he was staying with his wife and their five other children, in order to hide the already decomposing body of his toddler daughter. On March 28, he placed the little girl’s body in a box, placed the box in the trunk of a car in the garage, and then put pizza boxes on top of it. The corpse was leaking fluids at that point, according to court documents, and surrounded by blankets, plastic bags, and pizza boxes in an attempt to hide the smell.
At this time, the coroner’s office has not yet positively identified the body, nor have they pinpointed the exact cause of death.
Lachaux then told the teen that she had to get out of the house before her mother, Kellie Phillips, returned, because after giving birth to a child fathered by Lachaux, Lachaux was worried that his wife, the teen’s mother, would find out that he had raped the girl.
The teen left home with her infant daughter and very little resources. The girl told police she wandered the streets with her baby, with little food and no money, before ending up at McCarran International Airport. It was there at the airport that airport staff called 911 when the infant girl began having problems.
The infant, now reportedly stable, was hospitalized in extremely critical condition for severe malnutrition and hypothermia. The teen, with no money, had been feeding her infant watered-down formula so thin that the baby was actually starving.
The teen relayed details of the abuse she had suffered to police, who then investigated the home. At that point, the badly decomposed body of the 3-year-old girl was discovered.
Lachaux was arrested first, after he surrendered to police when identified as being one of the two people sought in the death of a child. He was booked on charges that include three counts of child abuse with substantial bodily harm or death and a count of concealing evidence. His wife, Kellie Phillips, surrendered the day after.
The couple’s five other children, ranging in ages from 1 to 9, are reportedly healthy and in good condition and have been taken into protective custody.
The teen girl is also being held in juvenile detention on child abuse charges, as well, despite being the victim of horrific abuse and being made to feel a prisoner in her own home, even when the parents were absent.
Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson said of the charges related to the teen girl, “She’s a juvenile, she’s 17 years old. Does she need services? Does she need treatment by the juvenile system? Or should she be punished for her actions?”