The mother of a North Las Vegas toddler whose decomposing body was found stuffed in a box in 2015 pleaded guilty Thursday to second-degree murder and child neglect.
Kellie Phillips, now 40, stood before District Judge Douglas Herndon on Thursday in a nearly empty courtroom with tears welling in her eyes, then whispered “guilty” to both charges, which carry a prison sentence of between 10 and 25 years.
In October 2014, the toddler, Bessie Lachaux, 3, was left in the care of her pregnant, 17-year-old sister while Phillips and the toddler’s father, Jondrew Lachaux, remained out of town for months, according to a 2015 indictment. The teen had been impregnated by Lachaux, her stepfather.
While the couple were in Oakland with their five other young children, the teen and Bessie were forced to fend for themselves. The teen later gave birth in the couple’s home by herself and received no prenatal or postnatal care.
After the birth, the teen, infant and Bessie ran out of food and became malnourished. The heat also was turned off because no one paid the gas bill.
Sometime in March 2015, the teen called Phillips and Lachaux to report that Bessie — who had breathing problems for which she took regular medication — had fallen gravely ill.
The couple discouraged her from calling 911 and instead told her to “perform lifesaving measures” on the toddler, according to the indictment. The couple told the teen they would contact help but never did, and the child died in the teen’s care.
After the death, Lachaux instructed his stepdaughter to clean the room where Bessie died and stuff the child’s body into a box.
Lachaux later came home to help move the box into a car in the couple’s garage, then filled the car with pizza boxes to conceal it. He then gave the teen some baby formula and kicked her out.
The teen and her baby lived in and around McCarran International Airport for several days until the baby became critically ill and airport staff called 911. The baby survived after being taken to a hospital.
Both Phillips and Lachaux were arrested in April 2015. Lachaux’s case is expected to go to trial later this year.
Contact Rachel Crosby at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-380-8135. Follow @rachelacrosby on Twitter.