Back in 2012, I had called for the release of several non-exempt records concerning the disappearance of Baby Kate, which took place exactly six years ago on June 29, 2011 by the investigating authority, the Ludington Police Department. I was rebuffed on all counts; they used the investigation exemption even after Baby Kate's father Sean Phillips had been tried, convicted and sentenced of secret confinement, a 10-15 year felony.
Earlier this year, after another trial went through in 2016 finding Phillips guilty of second-degree murder, I tried again to get simply the police report pertaining to Kate's disappearance and any polygraph (lie detector) records concerning Ariel Courtland, Kate's mother. I was told that the basic police report I requested would cost me nearly $2500 to receive, and was never told whether the polygraph records existed, only that they would all be exempt by a statute protecting polygraph results from disclosure. This was explained in Detection of Lies Six Years Later.
More questions arose when I administratively appealed to the Ludington City Council, including how a simple police report for a missing person would be 2700 pages and require a police detective to review these records for 100 hours. It prompted a lawsuit filed on May 5, detailed in A Trail Littered with Lies: FOIA Lawsuit for Baby Kate Police Repor...
Two weeks later, I received notice from the court that Circuit Court Judge Susan Sniegowski recused herself (I had filed a motion to do so because of her husband being employed by the City of Ludington), and then an appearance and answer by the defendant's attorney on May 24. Patiently, I have waited five weeks since that time to get a hearing date from the court, nearly 8 weeks since my case was filed, and received nothing. The FOIA mandates the court to assign such cases to a fast-track, they are specifically required to expedite the matter in the quickest way practicable.
But like our officials gave up on finding where Baby Kate may be, devoting all of their energy towards getting the father convicted of the most serious felony they could imagine, regardless of the limitations of the evidence. They succeeded in that, but it has been six years of failure in finding out whether this infant was killed, whether it was adopted out secretively, and where she is now whether dead or alive.
Many in the public wonder what made the police focus their energy away from determining whether the mother had anything to do with the disappearance, her statements at the original preliminary hearing often contradicted her statements originally made to the police. But beyond Sean's attorney, nobody has ever sought to understand how she would tell effectively two different stories that are totally contradicted by the lack of video footage of her trip to the Family Independence Agency.
So people are rightly curious as to why she was immediately dropped as a suspect in this case when she seems to have lied to the police and/or the court, and then told what appears to be another big whopper to the press. That she took a polygraph test and passed. This test has never been brought up in either of the two week courtroom dramas in any way, and officials have always dodged the issue when they have been cornered about it. This prompts the big question: Who lies about taking a lie detector test when it should be a simple matter to verify the statement by asking our police department if they actually did that?
The cover-up turns it into a scandal. The prohibitive and unlawful $2500 costs to separate exempt information that doesn't exist after the first couple of pages point even more to a scandal of a flawed and failed investigation, that was hampered by a myopia of believing somebody who seems able to lie without consequence. I want the public to review the LPD's investigation by seeing the records; I want the ability to compare and contrast what is in the police report and addenda to what was learned in the courtroom.
In the end, I want you and I to be able to look at the whole record and determine whether this investigation was solid or just soiled. But even now, eight weeks after I filed the case, I have not received anything from the court pertaining to getting these records in accordance with FOIA law. Five weeks after all preliminary actions have been done, why hasn't a date for a hearing or in-camera review been set? That is what I sought in sending this letter to the local court today.
With this court's records in the Baby Kate case a matter of public record, I doubt whether I will get a fair adjudication consistent with the intent of FOIA, I can only hope that Judge Wadel's fairness will win the day for me us eventually.