A 28-year-old father in Kansas was arrested this weekend after he allegedly set fire to a home intentionally and killed his infant son. Nicholas Adam Ecker was taken into custody and charged with one count each of first-degree murder and aggravated arson with the risk of bodily harm for allegedly starting the fire that took the baby’s life, court records reviewed by Law&Crime show.
Ecker appeared before a judge in Johnson County District Court on Monday for allegedly violating a protective order against the victim’s mother. He faces separate charges of felony stalking, aggravated domestic assault, and illegal possession of a firearm.
Johnson County District Court records show 15 cases against Ecker over the years, including various juvenile offenses, domestic violence matters, and the current cases. Records show that some of the juvenile cases, like misdemeanor possession or paraphernalia charges, were dropped by the prosecution. Other juvenile cases, such as misdemeanor battery and false reporting of a crime, ended with Ecker under the supervision of the state.
But records also show: a 2010 guilty plea to misdemeanor disorderly conduct; a 2010 guilty plea for felony defacing ID marks of a firearm; a 2011 conviction for felony theft; a 2020 guilty plea to firearm possession by a felon.
According to the Shawnee Police Department, officers and firefighters at approximately 1 a.m. on Sunday responded to a 911 calls about a house fire at a residence located in the 10000 block of West 69th Terrace. Upon arriving at the scene, first responders reportedly found the home was already engulfed in flames, Kansas City ABC affiliate KMBC-TV reported. Firefighters battling the blaze entered the home and reportedly found the infant inside. The victim was pronounced dead on the scene.
A reporter with local newspaper the Shawnee Mission Post was reportedly at the scene of the fire in the early hours of Sunday morning. Per the Mission Post’s report, a man riding a motorcycle pulled into the side yard of the residence while the fire was still raging and “dumped the bike onto its side and sprinted towards the home’s front door.” The man, later identified as Ecker, was reportedly stopped by police and firefighters prior to reaching the front door and escorted away before he was eventually detained and charged with setting the fire.
A copy of the criminal complaint obtained by the Mission Post reportedly alleges that Ecker “unlawfully and feloniously” killed his infant son “by means of fire or explosive.”
A judge ordered Ecker to remain detained at the Johnson County Jail on a bond of $1 million for the murder and arson charges, as well as an additional $58,500 for the stalking, battery, and firearm charges, online records show.
“Our hearts go out to the family,” Shawnee Fire Department Deputy Chief Corey Sands said after the blaze was under control, according to Newsweek. “Shawnee is a tight-knit community. Our hearts go out to everyone.”
Cory Holmes, a friend of the family, reportedly told KMBC that the entire ordeal was “hard to process.”
“Just shock and awe, I’d never see anything like this happen to this family,” Holmes reportedly said. “They’re a great family so they need all the support they can get.”
A GoFundMe was set up for the family by Jackie Phelps, who identified herself on the page as the sister of the victim’s mother. Phelps also referred to the infant victim as “Junior.”
“Please please please keep our family in your prayers. We need it badly! My beautiful baby nephew has gained his wings We love you Junior! Junior was so precious and such a good boy!” she wrote on the page, which has raised just over $6,000 as of Tuesday afternoon. “Our family has gone through hard times lately but we will overcome. Thank you all for your support and love. Any cent counts and will help tremendously!”
Ecker was scheduled to appear for his arraignment on the murder and arson charges on Tuesday.
Investigators have emphasized that their investigation is ongoing and urged anyone with relevant information to contact the Shawnee Police Department at 913-631-2150 or the TIPS Hotline at 816-474-8477.
[Image via Shawnee County Jail]
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