Search with Kettering police for Erica Baker aims ‘to give closure’ to family, community

Equusearch Midwest is working with Kettering police regarding Erica Baker, who was 9 years when was reported missing in 1999. FILE
Equusearch Midwest is working with Kettering police regarding Erica Baker, who was 9 years when was reported missing in 1999. FILE

Credit: FILE

Credit: FILE

A Kettering girl reported missing for more than 20 years ago is the focus of an upcoming search with local police, authorities said Monday.

A search for Erica Baker is set for Saturday by Equusearch Midwest with the help of the Kettering Police Department. The search will be in and around Huffman Dam in Greene County, a site previously examined, the search organization said.

Baker was 9 when she went missing Feb. 7, 1999, and there are no new developments in the case, police and Equusearch officials said.

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But the branch of Texas EquuSearch is hoping to find answers. The search will start at 8 a.m. and include about a dozen EquuSearch crews, as well as two Kettering detectives — one current and one retired — most closely associated with the case.

“There’s some spots that it’s been brought to our attention that we think that really need to be addressed,” said Dave Rader, director of Equusearch Midwest based in Cincinnati.

“And right now we wanted to hit it hard when the vegetation was down and not fully in bloom because that makes it a little more difficult for us,” he added.

Rader said “things were done 22 years ago” and the area in question has evolved since.

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“And we’re just trying to revisit a few places that may not have been searched as thoroughly as they wanted back then,” he said.

Kettering police Public Information Officer Joe Ferrell said to his knowledge, the Baker case has never been considered closed.

“Anytime a lead would come in, we would follow up on it. In this instance, it’s not a lead,” Ferrell said. “They’re searching an area where they know they’ve searched in the past based on the leads that they’ve had.”

Baker left home on a rainy afternoon to walk the family dog near the Kettering Recreation Complex. The dog was found, but Baker never returned.

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There have been tips, multiple searches and the conviction, sentencing and release of a man who said he drove the van that struck and killed Baker.

Christian Gabriel served six years in prison for gross abuse of a corpse and tampering with evidence after confessing to driving the van that struck the girl near the intersection of Glengarry Drive and Powhattan Place in Kettering.

Rader said “we’re just hoping that this is the spot where she is so we can give closure not only to the family, but also the community.

“The community – since Day 1 – has been involved in this … We’d love to give the family, first and foremost, what they so desire,” he added.

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