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Thursday, Apr. 28, 2016

ISP makes arrest for 1979 murder case

Friday, October 15, 2010

Richard L. Boswell
VIGO COUNTY -- Indiana State Police detectives from the Criminal Investigation Division at the Putnamville Post have made an arrest in the 1979 murder of 20 year old Kathy Jo Baker and the attempted murder of her then nearly 3-year-old son Kenneth Ryan Baker.

Richard L. Boswell Jr., age 53, of 6875 E. Gross Road, Terre Haute was taken into custody at 11 a.m. Thursday morning at the Riley Fire Department on Vigo County Superior Court six arrest warrants for one count of murder, a Class A felony and one count of attempted murder, also a Class A felony.

Boswell was initially taken to the Putnamville State Police Post and later incarcerated in the Vigo County Jail.

In April 2008, the Indiana State Police received a tip of a possible suspect. Former ISP Detective Hans Nowak reopened the case and collected DNA samples from a male subject not previously mentioned in the initial investigation. Nowak and former ISP Crime Scene Investigator Sergeant Andy Lohrman submitted several items of evidence from the Baker case to the Indiana State Police Laboratory for DNA analysis.

In March 2010, Indiana State Police detectives were notified that DNA evidence found on the clothing of Kathy Jo Baker matched the DNA profile of a convicted offender from the Indiana Department of Corrections, Richard L. Boswell Jr.

The match was determined after the DNA profile from the clothing was entered into Indiana DNA database and a subsequent match to Boswell was found. Indiana State Police detectives, Sergeant Troy Stanton and Tony Guinn, were then assigned to the investigation and began examining the evidence, reviewing case files, and interviewing and re-interviewing persons related to the case.

Armed with this information, Stanton and Guinn conferred with Vigo County Prosecutor Terry Modesitt and working together, the trio was able to secure Vigo County arrest warrants.

The initial investigation began on May 22, 1979 when Kathy Jo Baker and her son, Kenneth Ryan Baker, then 2 years and 7 months old, were reported missing from the family home by husband and father Kenneth Baker. During the mid-morning hours the following day, the Indiana State Police received a call that people fishing approximately one and one-half miles north of the Baker residence heard what they thought was a baby crying in the woods.

ISP troopers and detectives rushed to the area and found Kathy Jo Baker deceased at the scene and her son alive, but injured. Her cause of death was listed as strangulation and asphyxiation. The toddler, Kenneth Ryan Baker, had sustained blunt force trauma to the head, but survived his injuries. The Baker home is no longer there, but was approximately two miles east of Riley on State Road 46, then one mile north.

"This case is just one of many that have been solved by DNA evidence, especially since DNA testing was not available during the original investigation of these terrible crimes. The fact that the initial evidence was properly collected and preserved nearly 30 years ago, speaks volumes for good police work. Hopefully now, the Baker family can have some closure and comfort in knowing that a suspect is now behind bars", commented Vigo County Prosecutor Terry Modesitt.

Assisting the Indiana State Police at the time of the arrest was the U.S. Marshal's Service Fugitive Task Force.

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