LUDINGTON, Mich. (WOOD) - The mother of missing 4-month-old Katherine Phillips is preparing for the worst news, but hoping her daughter is still alive.
"Time is really running out," Ariel Courtland told 24 Hour News 8. "I feel in my heart she's outside somewhere. I'm hoping (she's alive). I don't really want to think that she's not, but I'm trying to prepare myself for the fact that she is (not alive)."
Courtland and the suspect, Sean Michael Phillips, 21, have an older child together and they've fought for years over custody.
When Kate -- as the infant is called -- was born in February, he was named in a paternity suit to determine if he was the father. Tests are pending.
Around 1 p.m. Wednesday, they argued at her Ludington apartment and he left with baby Kate. Police arrested him several hours later at his home in nearby Scottville, but they found no baby.
"He was here and she was taken," Courtland said. "... God forbid that if he did do anything to her, but if he did do anything to her, I would hope I could at least bury my daughter and not have the constant agony of not knowing."
She took a lie detector test, at her request, she said. Police eliminated her as a suspect and, they said, they questioned Phillips, who denied knowing where the child was.
"I didn't want people to ever for one second think that I would harm my child. Ever," Courtland said.
Phillips' home in Scottville was searched, and police said he and the baby were spotted at a Ludington Wendy's restaurant shortly after the alleged abduction.
Phillips was arraigned Thursday afternoon on a charge of kidnapping-child enticement and is being held on a $500,000 bond.
He has no violent criminal past, and won't talk about the Kate situation. Investigators left Phillips' home also without saying a word.
"My only prayer is, we can find her before it's too late," Courtland said. "She's a very happy-go-lucky baby. She's teething right now."
Police worked well into the evening, spending a good amount of time at Phillips' home. They obtained a search warrant and likely were collecting evidence.
"I hope that we can find her tonight, because she has a full life to live ahead of her," Courtland said. "And I was looking forward to spend it with her."
Courtland just wants answers.
"There's just so many different scenarios, so many different places she could be that no one even knows where to begin looking," she said.
Earlier Thursday, police blocked access to nearby Hackert Lake after a witness believed he saw the suspect. A Coast Guard helicopter searched the lake and the woods.
"I don't know how I would handle losing a child," Courtland said. "I don't want to think like that right now -- I'm just trying to go out and find her."
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