February 7, 1999
Kettering, Ohio
Erica Baker (9, pictured) disappears while walking a dog

Baker took a dog for a walk around 4 p.m. on February 7, 1999, though the dog later returned alone. Thorough searches were performed but Baker, alive or dead, was never found.

The case received its first lead in 5 years after Christian Gabriel contacted police and admitted to being in a van that struck and killed Erica on February 7. According to Gabriel, he and his partner Jan Franks were under the influence of drugs and alcohol, and had recently shoplifted from a supermarket. Additionally, both had criminal records. Because of these factors, Gabriel and Franks were afraid to contact emergency services as they were reportedly scared they would be arrested. The pair decided to cover the crime by hiding Baker’s “broken and twisted” body somewhere, though Gabriel claimed, due to intoxication, he could not remember where her body was left.

Franks died in 2001. Her lawyer, Beth Lewis, may have some information regarding Baker’s death and/or grave, though she refuses to divulge any information, citing attorney-client confidentiality.

Gabriel later recanted his confession and claimed he had only admitted to killing Baker due to pressure from authorities. He was sentenced to 6 years in prison for gross abuse of a corpse and tampering with evidence, and has since been released.

As Baker’s body has not been recovered, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children released an age-progressed photo of Baker to demonstrate how she would look at 24, in the event she is still alive.

Any information regarding Baker or her whereabouts should be directed to the Kettering Police at 937-296-2555 or the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678).

Sources:
Erica Nichole Baker. The Charley Project. Accessed: February 7, 2020. http://charleyproject.org/case/erica-nicole-baker
Gokavi, Mark. “‘Through hell and high water’: 20 years since Erica Baker disappeared.” Dayton Daily News. February 6, 2016. Accessed: February 7, 2020. https://www.daytondailynews.com/news/crime–law/through-hell-and-high-water-years-since-erica-baker-disappeared/NisXkJl8VsOBC68dWHwMpJ/amp.html
Schaefer, Christina. “Erica Baker would be 28-years-old today.” Dayton 24/7 Now. June 22, 2017. Accessed: February 7, 2020. https://dayton247now.com/news/local/erica-baker-would-be-28-years-old-today (image source)
“Erica Baker: What the missing girl would look like today.” WHIO TV. February 7, 2014. Accessed: February 7, 2020. https://www.whio.com/news/erica-baker-what-the-missing-girl-would-look-like-today/vskS120C1pVST5CqE8k6iI/amp.html

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