A father from Logan County, Arkansas allegedly murdered a 2-year-old child and then tried to cover the death up by causing a home explosion.
The blast was so strong that it knocked the home’s front porch off.
According to a press release from the Arkansas State Police, Ricky Carter, 27, has been arrested on first-degree murder and arson charges. On Dec. 21, police were called to his home after someone reported an explosion. When the Paris Police Department arrived on the scene, they found Carter’s home engulfed in flames, the New York Daily News reports. A cop helped Carter bring four children, all under 18, out of the home.
Three of the four children were unharmed, according to the press release. The fourth child, the 2-year-old named Ryatt Reese, was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital. A coroner has stated that Reese was already dead and was already in a state of Rigamortis upon his arrival to the hospital. The toddler’s body has been sent to the Arkansas State Crime Lab and an official cause of death is pending.
Police determined that the fire was caused by a gas explosion, which was originally reported as an accident.
Neighbor Lois Hutchins recounted the dramatic blast to KFSM.
"I was sitting in the front room and I heard this terrible racket and I thought somebody had had a wreck," she said. "I got up looked and couldn't see nothing, then I looked over there and saw that porch laying on the ground."
Carter initially told police that he didn’t cause that explosion, NWA Homepage reports, but he later allegedly changed his story.
According to court documents, Reese vomited in the middle of the night, hours before the fire was reported. Carter responded by grabbing the toddler by his ankles, lifting him up. At some point, the child fell on his head and he began to shake. Carter told police he tried CPR on the boy repeatedly with no success. Then, he allegedly put Reese in a bed before turning on the gas. After 45 minutes, Carter allegedly ignited a lighter. According to the court documents, Carter told police that he was trying to cover up Reese’s death.
It is unclear if Carter has a lawyer at this time. It is also unclear what Carter's relationship is to Reese and the other children at the home.
[Photo: The Arkansas State Police]