Remembering Tara Baker: A savage crime remains unsolved after 20 years – Online Athens
Twenty years ago, a killer took the life of a young University of Georgia law school student on the day before her 24th birthday.
To celebrate what would have been her 44th year on Earth, the surviving family members of Tara Louise Baker, along with friends, gathered shortly before noon Wednesday in front of the UGA Law School, where more than a dozen bundles of flowers were laid beneath a wreath placed in her memory.
“She did not deserve this,” said Baker’s sister, Meredith Schroeder, as she recalled the violent crime in the company of her brother, Kevin Baker, and mother, Virginia Baker. Tara Baker’s father, Lindsay, died two years ago.
The slaying occurred Jan. 19, 2001, in a home along Fawn Drive in the densely populated Deer Park neighborhood off Lexington Highway. The killer, who set the home on fire, slipped away with his dark secret.
But on this bright sunny day, Tara Baker was remembered as an intelligent and kind person. Everyone at the gathering has been touched in some way by her, said her brother, who was only 10 when his sister died.
“If you were one of her friends, you meant the world to her,” he said.
Baker’s mother shed tears as she stood in the shade of a magnolia tree that fronted the law school.
“I don’t understand why,” she said softly through tears as she questioned her daughter’s violent death.
The family was especially grateful to Cameron Jay for his “Classic City Crime Podcast,” who in a series of podcasts discussed the unsolved crime in an effort to elicit information that might help police solve the case.
Jay gave the family and others a platform to mourn together and celebrate Tara’s memory, Kevin Baker told the gathering.
The younger brother was able to express his views on the podcasts, including the fact that the murder occurred on the eve of her birthday.
“It’s not coincidental,” he said after the service. “I don’t think it was a simple home burglary either.”
Jay, who helped organize the memorial, said he hoped the podcasts reached the ears of a particular person.
“I hope that whoever he or she is, they are listening,” he said. “After 20 years, I hope this has brought it back to the forefront of their mind and perhaps the minds of people who know something related to those involved.”
No one knows the mindset of the killer.
“I hope the person responsible will relieve themselves of that weight,” Jay said. “If they tell the truth, they will give this family a lot of freedom.”