A six-month old baby boy was kidnapped, set on fire and dumped near train tracks in Louisiana last week.
Baby Levi Cole Ellerbe was kidnapped on July 17 after two people came to mother Hanna Barker’s trailer door just after 9pm and sprayed her in the face with what she believed was mace.
Instinctively, the Barker ran to get away, a statement from Natchitoches police said, and when she went back home, found her infant son was missing.
Police said the search for baby Levi began immediately, with additional officers from surrounding precincts called in to help.
Unfortunately, less than 90 minutes after Levi went missing, police were alerted to a fire nearby the railroad, where they found a badly burned six-month-old boy.
Levi was rushed to Natchitoches Regional Medical Center in a critical condition but died on Wednesday from his injuries.
Felicia Marie-Nicole Smith, 25, was charged with the first degree murder of Levi on Saturday and booked into the Natchitoches Parish Detention Center.
It is unclear if Smith and Hanna Barker knew each other personally, but the pair are friends on Facebook.
Levi, who had three sisters, Brookelaine, Elizabeth, and Nevaeh, was laid to rest on Friday. His obituary described him as ‘the happiest baby who always had a big smile’.
‘He spent his time playing with siblings and cousins especially outdoors, watching PJ Masks and video gaming with Uncle J,’ the moving tribute read.
‘He was an animal lover and anytime he could get his hands on his dog, Rex, he loved to pull his ears.
‘Levi was a blessing to our family and everyone who met him. We will always remember him as our little ‘Chunky Monkey’.’
Neighbor Kanika Johnson was the one who made the 911 call. She told Town Talk she thought the fire had been started by local children and was nothing malicious.
‘I just seen it on fire. I didn’t see nobody or nothing,’ she said. ‘I just thought some kids might have set it on fire or something.’
‘I had called the police and told them to hurry up and send somebody to put the fire out before it spreads.
‘And [the next day] I found out it was a baby.’
Hanna has been grieving with her mother, Kristy Roberts, and her sister.
In other crime news, an indicted FBI agent is facing trial on charges linked to a deadly incident in January 2016 during the armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon. Jury selection has begun at a federal court in Portland.
W. Joseph Astarita was a member of the FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team, which is described by the bureau as the “federal law enforcement’s lead counterterrorism tactical team.”
According to federal prosecutors, he was trying to capture the leaders of the 41-day occupation organized by members of the Bundy family.
Tensions reached a head on Jan. 26, 2016, when law enforcement attempted to stop and arrest several militants driving in two cars between the refuge and Oregon’s Grant County.
The occupants of one of the cars were arrested. Robert LaVoy Finicum, who had been acting as the group’s spokesman, was driving a second car and gunned it down the street as FBI agents and local police gave chase, according to the indictment. He tried to avoid a law enforcement roadblock and drove off the road, hitting a snow bank.
Shortly afterward, he was shot dead — but not by Astarita.
“After failing to follow multiple commands to put up his hands, Robert LaVoy Finicum was shot by Oregon State Police personnel while attempting to reach for a firearm inside his jacket,” the indictment reads, yet the video taken at the scene clearly shows Finicum never reached for a firearm.
Prosecutors say Astarita fired two rounds during the attempt to arrest Finicum, yet failed to disclose that to law enforcement. Astarita, who has pleaded not guilty, is facing two counts of making false statements and one count of obstruction of justice.
“The defense argues the government’s case lacks eyewitnesses, ballistics evidence and video showing Astarita firing,” Oregon Public Broadcasting’s Conrad Wilson reports.
James E Windsor, Overpasses News Desk
July 25th, 2018