Brittany Rhea Phillips, a 26-year-old Mississippi model and mother of two, died after she was run over by her ex-boyfriend’s car on Saturday. James Heath Kitchens is now being charged with manslaughter in the incident that occurred just outside Starkville. Oktibbeha County Sheriffs Deputies were called to Riviera Road on Saturday at around 8 p.m. following a report of a car accident involving a pedestrian, WCBI reported.
Oktibbeha County Investigator Brett Watson told the outlet that the pedestrian who was struck, Phillips, was brought to the OCH Regional Medical Center by ambulance where she was pronounced dead early on Sunday morning. According to WTVA, her body has been sent to Jackson where an autopsy will be performed. WCBI also reported that deputies believe the incident stemmed from a “domestic situation” but did not elaborate.
Kitchens, 30, is being charged with manslaughter and is being held at the county jail on a $25,000 bond. The Oktibbeha County Sheriff’s Office told Heavy they are not releasing any further information about this case at this time.
Kitchens Worked as a Tupelo Police Officer Until May 2020 & Phillips Was a Model & Entrepreneur
WTVA reported that Kitchens is a former police officer who served with the Tupelo Police Department until May 2020. A spokesperson for the police department told the outlet that he had worked there since January 2019, but that “No further employment details may be released as that is a personnel matter.”
Kitchens’ Facebook page indicates that he studied criminal justice at Itawamba Community College, where he graduated in 2014. He also studied basic law enforcement training at NMLETC Tupelo and graduated in March 2019. His Facebook “About” page indicates that he lives in Starkville, Mississippi but is originally from Pontotoc.
Phillips was a model and entrepreneur whose Facebook page indicates that she was the owner of Couturhea, an online boutique, and beauty shop Beauty Perfected. Phillips was also pursuing a degree in kinesiology at Mississippi State University and had worked for two years at Oktibbeha County Hospital. It also indicates that she was beginning a minor in biological sciences and was pre-med at the university. In addition to her work as a model, Phillips also worked as a ring card girl for the Professional Fighters League since 2016.
A local photographer, Belmont Images Magazine, wrote on Facebook, “I don’t know if any of you ever met Brittany Rhea Phillips, but she was taken from us last night in a domestic violence event at her home in Starkville. She leaves behind a lot of fond memories of countless photoshoots over the years along with two young children. I met her back in 2011 when she was as skinny little 16 year old from Starkville. We could tell then just how good of a model she was going to be. She ultimately traveled the world doing what she loved to do. She will be missed.”
Kitchens Was the Father of Phillips’ Youngest of 2 Children, a Boy Who Was Born Earlier This Year
Phillips was the mother of two kids, a 7-year-old girl and a baby boy, who was born on February 2 of this year. Kitchens is the father of her youngest and frequently posted pictures with his son, including a series of photos in the spring where he is dressed in his police uniform while holding their baby.
Kitchens’ last public photo on Facebook with Phillips was posted on May 31 and was captioned, “Enjoying a night out with this beautiful woman of mine.” On September 23, Phillips posted to her account a series of photos showing the family of four enjoying the outdoors. The couple’s relationship status at the time of Phillips’ death is unclear.
A GoFundMe was set up to help cover Phillips’ funeral expenses and for her children. The fundraiser states:
Many of you that have met Brittany Rhea know that she was a beautiful soul inside and out. She left behind her two children, Carley age 7 and Kaleb who was only 10 months old. She knew how to bring a smile to everyone’s face. She was robbed of life too soon and her family would appreciate your support during this traumatic time.
The proceeds will be going to Phillips’ mother who will be raising the two young children, the fundraiser states. There will be a candlelight vigil for Phillips on Saturday, November 28 at 7:30 p.m. It will be held at the Unity Community Center in Guntown, Mississippi.