Originally created 01/21/05

Unsolved homicide frustrates parents

ATHENS, Ga. - Family and friends of a slain University of Georgia student gathered at The Arch, the entrance to the university's main campus, to lay flowers and share remembrances of 23-year-old Tara Louise Baker on the fourth anniversary of her slaying.

"We were compelled to come up and lay flowers, because that's about all we can do at this point," Lindsay Baker, her father, said Wednesday.

Mr. Baker said he and his wife, Virginia, remain frustrated at the seeming lack of progress to find the person responsible for their daughter's brutal death on the morning of Jan. 19, 2001.

"We're at a brick wall," he said.

The slaying, in which Ms. Baker's body was found amid the smoldering ruins of her home off Lexington Road in southeastern Athens-Clarke County, caused widespread concern among UGA's student body.

The death of the first-year law student from Lovejoy continues to be actively investigated, said Maj. Alan Brown, who represented the Athens-Clarke County Police Department at the 1 p.m. informal memorial off East Broad Street.

"We're still working on it every week," Maj. Brown said. "We just had a lead last week, and something else came in just yesterday that we're working on."

According to Maj. Brown, police have two new potential suspects, one local and another from out of state.

He would not release specifics about either, except to say that each has been involved in acts of violence toward women.

"A person can do a number of things to make him a possible suspect," he said. "For example, he may have committed a sexual assault or other act of violence against women, and also have an arson in his background."

In the Baker case, the killer set fire to the home she rented in the Deer Park subdivision, possibly in an attempt to cover up the crime. The student's body was discovered by firefighters who extinguished the blaze.

Maj. Brown would not say whether either of the two new possible suspects had been involved in arson.

In the years since the death, police have released few details: A white male, of average height and weight and dressed only in a T-shirt and jeans, was seen running from Ms. Baker's back yard at about 7 a.m. - nearly 4 hours before the fire was reported. They even withheld the manner in which she was killed.

A source with intimate knowledge of the investigation told the Athens Banner-Herald last year that Ms. Baker had been beaten, stabbed and strangled. The savage way in which she was killed has led some to believe the crime was personal and that Ms. Baker knew her attacker.


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