A Louisiana woman allegedly helped her friend murder her (the friend’s) infant son by setting him on fire, then went to work her shift at IHOP, The Miami Herald is reporting.
Felicia Marie-Nicole Smith, 26, and Hanna Barker, 23, are both behind bars facing a variety of charges for the July 17, in which Barker’s 6-month-old son, Levi Ellerbe, died after being burned alive.
Authorities say that at about 9:00 p.m. that night, Barker called 911 and told authorities an elaborate story. She claimed that two men pounded on the door of her trailer and that, when she opened it, they sprayed her with mace. She says she fled and that when she returned, Levi was gone.
Police initially took Barker at her word, and even posted on Facebook that Levi had been kidnapped.
About an hour and a half later, searchers noticed a fire. When they went to inspect it, they found Levi, having been soaked with gasoline and set on fire. Authorities rushed him to the hospital, but he died of severe burns.
As it turns out, the kidnapping story was just a ruse. It wasn’t kidnappers who took Levi, soaked him in gasoline, and set him on fire to burn to death: it was his mother, Hanna Barker, and her accomplice, Felicia Smith.
Authorities say that at about 9:00 p.m., Smith took Levi to a spot about a mile away from Barker’s home. There, cops say, she soaked Levi with gasoline and lit him on fire. Smith then calmly went to work her shift at International House of Pancakes (IHOP).
Levi was left with second- and third-degree burns over 90 percent of his body.
Last month, Smith, who police say knew the family and had access to the baby, was charged with first-degree murder. Now, this week, charges have also been filed against Barker, saying she was a “principal” to first-degree murder, as state Fire Marshal Butch Browning explains.
“When you’re charged with a principal to a crime that means you had a part in the crime. You may or may not have physically been there when the crime occurred. But you played a part in the execution of that crime.”
Meanwhile, authorities are still trying to piece together a possible motive for Levi’s murder.
An obituary described Levi as a “chunky monkey” who loved animals and particularly loved pulling on the family dog Rex’s ears.
“Levi was a blessing to our family and everyone who met him.”