22-year-old Hannah Barker is the second person arrested in connection with the death of Levi Cole Ellerbe in Natchitoches, Louisiana. Barker is Ellerbe’s mother, and will be charged with principal to first-degree murder. Levi died on July 18 after succumbing to injuries suffered after being set on fire.
Police arrested Felicia Marie-Nicole Smith for first-degree murder this past weekend. New allegations have come out indicating that Barker and Smith know one another. This disagrees with Barker’s earlier statements about the events surrounding Levi’s death.
Initial statements from Hannah Barker
Police reports show Barker claimed two men came to her Mayberry Trailer Park home on July 17th. Barker then claimed one of the men sprayed her with a chemical spray. She ran from the trailer in an effort to escape. Her claim states that before she returned to the trailer, someone took her son.
Police found Levi later in the day, approximately 10:20 p.m. that night. They were investigating reports of a fire near the railroad about one mile from Barker’s residence. Natchitoches resident Kanika Johnson reported seeing the fire and was concerned that it might spread, however, she did not see the child. When firefighters discovered Levi, he was immediately taken by air to the nearest burn center. Levi passed away due to the severity of his burns shortly after.
The ongoing investigation
With added allegations of an existing relationship between Smith and Barker, police determined there was enough evidence to pursue charges against Levi’s mother. The direct correlation between Barker and the alleged killer could show potential conspiracy or pre-meditation.
The Louisiana State Fire Marshall, Chief H. Browning has been working with Natchitoches Police on the investigation into the killing. In a briefing, Browning said “I want to highlight the determination and dedication of the team of investigators from both agencies who have doggedly worked this case from the start. Rest assured, that diligent work is not over yet.”
The true nature of the relationship between Barker and Smith is still not clear. Barker is awaiting a hearing where she will answer the charge against her, and potentially one additional charge. It is unknown if she has sought legal representation, as none was available for comment. Police continue to investigate Levi’s death and expect more revelations to emerge.