Documents: Paris Man Started Fire to Cover Child’s Death

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FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA) — A residential fire in Paris was started by a man who wanted to cover up a child’s death, court documents state. 

The court documents released on Wednesday state Ricky L. Carter, 27, started the fire on purpose. 

Carter was arrested shortly after the fire took place on December 21. He was later charged with first-degree murder and arson. 

After initially telling police the gas explosion that ignited the home wasn’t his fault, Carter changed his story, authorities said. 

The court documents state Carter said Ryatt Reese (the two-year-old who later died) came into his room and vomited twice overnight on December 21. After Reese vomited the second time, Carter grabbed him by the ankles to pull the child towards a bed. Reese fell onto his head and began to shake, court records state. Carter said he tried CPR on Reese for quite some time. 

Eventually, the suspect placed Reese on a bed, turned on the gas in the rear of the home, waited 45 minutes and then ignited his lighter, causing an explosion, court documents state. He told police this was done to cover up Reese’s death. 

Three other children were in the home at the time of the explosion. They and Carter escaped the house fire alive. 

An officer was able to pull Reese’s body out of the home. 

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