Erica Baker case: Dad says missing children’s day would help families

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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FILE: Crews search for Erica Baker's remains in 2008

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Father testifies before state lawmakers in Columbus.

Erica Baker’s dad told state lawmakers on Tuesday that designating May 25 as Ohio National Missing Children’s Day would mean a lot to families like his.

“It’s a uniting thing for all the parents that have missing children. It gives them a day of recognition in the state of Ohio. I thought it was very important for them so that they know that all their loved ones are not forgotten,” said Erica’s father, Greg Baker.

In February 1999, 9-year-old Erica of Kettering took the family dog for a walk and never returned. Her disappearance remains one of the Miami Valley’s biggest mysteries.

Related: Missing in the Miami Valley: Erica Baker

Christian Gabriel served 6 years in prison after he confessed to driving a van that struck Erica near the intersection of Glengarry Drive and Powhattan in Kettering. Both he and his passenger, Jan Franks, had criminal backgrounds, so instead of calling for help, Gabriel said he put Erica inside the van and took off. Even after serving his time and getting out of prison in 2011, Gabriel refuses to say what he did with Erica. Franks died of a drug overdose in 2001.

May 25th is missing children’s day both nationally and internationally. Senate Bill 86, introduced by state Sen. Bob Hackett, R-London, would align Ohio with those designations. Baker testified in favor of the bill, pending before a Senate committee.

“I’m speaking for myself, in particular, and our family and our community here. I think this would be something awesome for the future, for us and also the families of the missing children in the state of Ohio,” Baker said.

The FBI National Crime Information Center data shows there were 465,676 reports of missing children nationwide in 2016 and 460,699 in 2015. If a child runs away multiple times in a single year, that child is counted for each time a report is filed.

Still, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, a non-profit clearinghouse of data, says “Unfortunately, since many children are never reported missing, there is no reliable way to determine the total number of children who are actually missing in the U.S.”

Related: Erica Baker: What the missing girl would look like today

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