Murder plea entered in fire death


A Jefferson County man entered a guilty plea before a Walker County judge Monday morning for the murder of a Sumiton woman in February 2017.

Ryan Glen Parker Phillips, 28, pleaded guilty to three counts before Judge Henry Allred Monday at the Walker County Courthouse. He will receive a 30-year sentence for murder, 30 years for arson and 20 years for first-degree assault. The counts stem from an incident on Feb. 14, 2017, that left 79-year-old Mary Helen Dill dead.

According to officials with the Walker County District Attorney’s Office, Phillips was responsible for setting a fire inside a mobile home on the 300 block of Whitlow Road in Sumiton. At the time of the fire, the Daily Mountain Eagle reported that Phillips held Dill and her son against their will as he set the fire with the son being able to escape with injuries. 

Walker County District Attorney Bill Adair confirmed on Monday that Phillips and the son knew each other, classifying the incident as “domestic” in nature. 

The first-degree assault charge was added due to injuries and burns suffered by a Sumiton firefighter who responded to the scene. Wes Clark suffered third-degree burns over 30 percent of his body and spent nearly a month in the hospital after the incident. 

“First responders put their lives on the line every day, and when someone is injured in a situation like this where they are risking their lives to save a person, and the entire incident is criminal in nature, it is good for us to be able charge the ones who are responsible for those injuries,” Adair said. “This was a terrible tragedy that cost Ms. Dill her life, and it was made even worse by the fact that a firefighter was injured in responding to it.”

Clark returned to his job as a firefighter in April 2017, according to a story in the Daily Mountain Eagle at that time.