Ariel Courtland to marry Sean Phillips

September 11, 2012

Ariel Courtland testifying for the prosecution at Sean Phillips' trial in April.

IONIA – Ariel Courtland, mother of missing Katherine “Baby Kate” Phillips, has filed paperwork to marry Sean Phillips, the baby’s father. Phillips is currently in prison for the unlawful imprisonment of the baby who has been missing since June 2011.

According to WOOD TV-8 of Grand Rapids Courtland filed paperwork Monday to marry Phillips while he is in Michigan Reformatory prison in Ionia County.

The marriage must be confirmed within 30 days to be legal.

Courtland told WOOD that the marriage is not an indication that she is in love with Phillips, but part of her ongoing effort to get answers about what happened to her daughter who disappeared when she was 4 months old and still hasn’t been found.

“I need to have answers,” Courtland is reported saying. “I’ve taken all the steps to try to avoid this.”

The day of Phillips’ sentencing, Ludington Police Dept. announced it is considering the Baby Kate case a homicide investigation. Phillips is the top suspect.

After trying “everything I can possibly think of,” Courtland acted on the belief that she could visit Phillips if she was a part of his immediate family. She plans to make that happen by marrying him.

“It has nothing to do with Kate,” Courtland said. “The prison told us that we were never allowed to see each other or talk… We weren’t able to have any contact whatsoever… unless we were immediate family.”

She says Phillips has asked several times to marry her in the past and says that she’s discussed her plans with Phillips’ parents who she says “understand” why she decided to go through with the marriage.

After checking with prosecutors and investigators, Courtland says she was assured the marriage would not harm the criminal investigation.

“A marriage license is a paper… It’s not saying that I’m gonna spend the rest of my life with him,” she said. “It’s saying that I want to marry him for a… month or however long it takes for me to sit down with him and say, ‘Hey, what the f— happened?’ That’s all it’s meant to be. That’s it.”



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