Update: Paris Man Causes House Explosion to Cover Child's Death

Arrest in Deadly Arkansas Home Explosion

Update (Dec. 27): 

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KNWA) - A residential fire in Paris was started by a man who intended 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. 

Original story: 

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - A Logan County man has been arrested on charges of 1st degree murder and arson in connection with a deadly explosion at a home in Paris on Thursday.

The Arkansas State Police (ASP) announced the arrest of Ricky Carter, 27, in a Friday morning news release.

The Arkansas State Police Criminal Investigation Division was requested to investigate the incident that killed a two-year-old child.

Around 4:30 a.m. Thursday, the Paris Police Department (PPD) responded to a loud noise complaint in the area of South Elm Street, in the city limits. When officers arrived in the area, they noticed a home on fire at 1704 South Elm Street.  

A PPD officer went into the home and helped Carter, who was staying at the residence, with carrying four minor children out of the burning home. Carter, along with three of the children were not injured.  

The two-year-old child was pronounced dead after being taken to the hospital. The victim's body has been sent to the Arkansas State Crime Lab for an autopsy.

The ASP Criminal Investigation Division is conducting the investigation with assistance from the ASP Fire Marshal’s Section, the ASP Crimes against Children Division (CACD), the Paris Police Department and the Paris Fire Department.

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