TARA BAKER: Murdered in Athens, GA - 19 Jan 2001


Well-known member
Watch as this 19 year old case is experiencing a resurgence by 2 very determined men who
remember the murder & seeing her burned home near their apartment.


Tara was murdered in a heinous fashion on January 19, 2001 one day shy of her 24th birthday. The epitome of overkill: Tara was beaten, stabbed, and strangled. A sexual assault was not ruled out. The killer even went so far as to set her apartment on fire. Her laptop was stolen.

According to the Augusta Chronicle: "Investigators identified at least three possible suspects after the murder, including a man Baker was dating, a fellow law school student, and an attorney at a local firm Baker worked for. Authorities will not say if the men still are under suspicion or if there are new suspects."

Georgia Bureau of Investigation:
January 19, 2001, around 11:20 a.m., the body of Tara Louise Baker was found by Athens-Clarke County firefighters responding to a fire at her apartment located at 160 Fawn Drive, Athens. Subsequent investigation has determined that the fire was intentionally set and the manner of death is homicide. Tara was a first-year law school student at the University of Georgia (UGA). Tara, 23, was last seen alive by a friend around 7:30 p.m. on January 18 at the UGA Law School Library. The same friend received a call at 9:46 p.m. from Tara, who was still at the library. Tara phoned to make sure her friend arrived home safely and said she planned to leave the library around 10 p.m. Tara was born on January 20, 1977 in East Point, Georgia. She graduated Love Joy High School in 1995 and enrolled at Georgia College in Milledgeville. She graduated Cum Laude in 1998 with two bachelor's degrees. Classmates remember Tara as a caring person who would often champion the cause of the underdog and never allowed serious students to be excluded from study groups or class projects. Anyone who may have information about Tara's death should contact: The Athens-Clarke County Police Department at 706-613-3337 or the GBI's Athens Regional Office at 706-542-7901.

Last edited:


Well-known member
from 2017:
Still no arrest 16 years after UGA law student’s murder, but police believe the case can be solved
The commander of the Athens-Clarke County Police Department’s Criminal Investigations Division recently revealed that police have identified a viable suspect in the slaying that occurred Jan. 19, 2001, in the bedroom of Baker’s home on Fawn Drive.

Until now, police had not revealed whether they had any solid suspects in the case, but Capt. Jerry Saulters last month said police “had someone suggest this person could be involved” — a person who was subsequently interviewed by investigators and is now considered a potential suspect.

Baker’s case is currently assigned to Detective Chuck Ivey, one of the police department’s most experienced homicide detectives who firmly believes the case can be cracked. Even almost two decades since the murder, police still will not discuss details of the crime.

“The Athens-Clarke County Police Department steadfastly follows up on every lead in the Tara Baker homicide and safeguards the case knowledge with the hopes the perpetrator is brought to justice,” Saulters said.

Officers who assisted early on with the case have since retired, and would speak about the murder only on condition of anonymity. From those interviews, the Athens Banner-Herald and OnlineAthens learned just how brutally Baker had been killed. The first-year law student was beaten, stabbed, strangled and possibly sexually assaulted, which sources said indicated that Baker may have known her killer — perhaps someone who was enamored with her and flew into a rage when she spurned his advances. The student’s home in the Deer Park apartment complex off Lexington Road in east Athens was set on fire by the killer to cover his tracks. The only thing taken from Baker’s home was her laptop computer, which might have held e-mails that would have incriminated the killer .

The “person of interest” Saulters mentioned became a viable suspect around 2010, he said.

Prior to that, the Baker homicide case file was reviewed by Dr. Henry Lee, the internationally renowned criminalist. The case was given to Lee at the request of Baker’s family, and he conducted his review at no charge to the family or county.

Baker’s case was also presented to a symposium at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Va., a gathering of leading homicide investigators from around the country.

Despite the best efforts of law enforcement, Lindsay Baker remained pessimistic about the chances his daughter’s case would be solved, particularly because he believed the investigation was botched in its early stages. He did not think the case was still being actively investigated. “The stagnation of the investigation has left us mystified, but we can rest in the assurance that it will play out in God’s time, not ours,” Baker said.

“We recently ran into one of her friends from school and her 15-year-old daughter. It seems Tara was everybody’s maid of honor in the months after graduation,” Baker recalled. “We were happy to see them, but it did sting a bit to see this pretty young lady who was not born when Tara was murdered. We are reminded that Tara’s killer not only took her life, but also a huge limb from our family tree. The next generation will never know the wonderful aunt that was stolen from them.”

A former UGA police officer who assisted in the homicide investigation defended the probe, saying detectives worked the Baker case tirelessly, but there was virtually no physical evidence to help piece together a case.

The crime scene was contaminated by more than a dozen firefighters who were there before authorities even realized Baker’s home was a murder scene, said the former UGA officer, Alex Morrow. He said water from fire hoses and a coating of soot made it impossible to lift fingerprints. “The fire damage was so extensive that it destroyed the crime scene, so there was very little to work with,” said Morrow, a former detective who recalled working up to 15 hours a day during the first six months after the murder. “We explored every possible avenue with the information and evidence we had.”

Despite the family’s misgivings, police remain confident they eventually will build enough of a case to slap handcuffs on the suspected killer.
“Some of the factors that make this case different are the time that has passed, the fire at the scene and the fact that, by all accounts, Tara Baker lived a low-risk lifestyle,” said Ivey, the detective now handling the case.

The most recent significant investigative activity in the case occurred in December 2013, according to Saulters, who said it involved interviewing a new witness. That activity breathed new life into the investigation, according to Saulters, who had a message for the killer:
“The Athens-Clarke County Policed Department has not forgotten what you did to Tara Baker,” he said. “We will continue to work on identifying and bringing you to justice.”



Well-known member
A Sister’s Search
Apr 23, 2019

After years of confusion and sadness, Meredith Schroeder is still fighting to know who murdered her sister, Tara Baker.

....... Although she has been telling the story of her sister, Tara’s unsolved murder for almost two decades, it’s still hard.
“I still have dreams about her as if she were here,” Schroeder said. “It’s like I understand it, but my brain just doesn’t want to accept it.”

...... January 19, 2001 began like any other day.... It was the day before her sister’s 24th birthday, and she was looking forward to celebrating with her. She attended school that day and remembers her mother picking her up.

“She said, ‘We’re gonna stop by Publix on the way home’ and, I remember asking her ‘Can I get a birthday card for Tara?’.”

The pair returned home to put the groceries away. Schroeder sat down and started eating a bowl of cereal when the phone rang.

“My mother’s voice completely changed… She hung up and looked over at me and said, ‘There was a fire at your sister’s house and her car is outside.”



Staff member
Athens-based podcast sets out to ‘bring light’ to unsolved murder of UGA student Tara Baker

It has been nearly 20 years since the murder of University of Georgia law student Tara Baker. And the mystery of what occurred on that frigid January morning still haunts her family, friends, and former classmates and colleagues.

Athens-Clarke County Police Department investigators continue to work the open case, and plenty of questions remain as to what happened on Jan. 19, 2001 at Fawn Drive on the city’s eastside, and who’s responsible for the heinous crime.

Athens resident Cameron Harrelson has created the podcast “Classic City Crime” to disseminate information on Baker’s case and in the process has established close ties with the Baker family, who have for years criticized law enforcement’s handling of the investigation.

“I reached out to the family,” said Harrelson, who has produced eight podcasts on the case. “I figured if they’d talk, I’d do it and if they didn’t talk, I’d find another subject or find another case.”

Harrelson has spoken to some 40 sources and has about 36 hours of recorded interviews, although he said the police department – which in 2017 reported a viable suspect had been identified – declined to work with him on his own probe of the murder.

“I reached out to the police department and said ‘This is what I’m planning on doing and I would love your help’ or ‘I would love to be your help in this,’” said Harrelson, who goes by Cameron Jay on the podcasts. “That day, the public information officer reached out to me and said he talked to the team in charge of the case and they’re not opposed to participating.

“It sounded pretty upbeat. I waited about a week and didn’t hear back and then called them back and at that point I was told they had rescinded their decision and did not want to speak to me.”



Forum statistics

Latest member