Three Day Search Comes Up Empty Handed
NORTH LIBERTY COUNTY, March 18, 2015 - The Liberty County Sheriff’s Office once again called upon the services of Texas EquuSearch volunteers to conduct additional search activities for Larry Richard Baker Sr. age 54 who first went missing from his residence on CR 325 in north Liberty County on January 29, 2010. At that time, Lead Investigator Sgt. Brian Bortz and now Captain Mark Ellington who were leading the original investigation called upon Texas EquuSearch to conduct the original search which, after several days of searching, failed to find Mr. Baker. According to family members at that time, Larry Baker is alleged to have left his home sometime during the night on a very cold and rainy January night and was never seen again. In addition to an extensive search of the wooded area surrounding the residence there were two small water filled ponds that were of concern. One pond was pumped dry by the Cleveland Fire Department and the second one was dragged with no results of finding Mr. Baker. After several days of searching the search was suspended.
Since the original date of Mr. Baker’s disappearance there have been rumors circulating throughout the local area that Baker had been killed by an unknown person or persons and his remains hidden at some remote location until after the searchers and law enforcement had suspended their search activities. Then several days later, this person or persons brought the remains back to the property on CR 325, apparently drained the same small 20’ by 20’ pond that is approximately five (5) feet deep and buried the remains at the bottom of the pond then sunk a camper trailer on top of the grave site and the pond was refilled again. This rumor has persisted for approximately five years which now included a second place which was near a tree line also on the same piece of property.
Even though, according to investigators, there has been no physical evidence to support these rumors, the rumors seems to have taken on a face of reality and fact of the area residence. Needless to say, these rumors have had an emotional effect on family members serving only to fuel concern and uncertainty on their part. One of the family members who now has care custody and control over the property and gave consent to re-search the property told investigators to search anything they needed to on the property because the family wanted answers also.
On Monday of this week, Texas EquuSearch Director Tim Miller and his volunteer search team made arrangements for a ground penetrating radar unit to be used on the “concerned site” near the tree line. Although the radar did pick up indication of soil disturbance, after digging with a back hoe, Mr. Miller found only old tires, scrap iron for the first four feet and then undisturbed virgin soil below that down to a depth of approximately seven feet.
Attention was then turned to the small pond where EquuSearch used a side scan sonar unit in an effort to detect a camper trailer or any other parts of a camper on the pond’s bottom. No such objects were indicated from the sonar. However, to further assure the pond was clear of any debris or items that could cover human remains, the pond was completely drained over a ten (10) hour time frame and then the bottom was scooped up by the back hoe but, again, nothing was found as the pond was completely clear of any debris and no human remains were found after digging out the bottom of the pond.
Over a three day period and working from daylight to dark in already rain soaked muddy conditions, volunteer Texas EquuSearch members and Sheriff’s Investigators went over several areas on the property in order to “sweep” any other possible sites but nothing significant was found. Today, around noon, all other searching activities had to be suspended due to additional heavy rains moving into the north end of Liberty County. At the conclusion of the three day search, Texas EquuSearch personally absorbed all financial cost for the machinery used thus there was no cost to the family nor to Liberty County.
This case, as are any other such cases, are never “closed” as investigators continue to try and develop leads that might solve a particular case. This search effort was meant to, once again, recheck out any possible leads as well as to try and dispel the on-going and persistent rumors of a camper trailer being in the small pond and covering a grave site. Therefore, with the information available at this time to both Law Enforcement and Texas EquuSearch, any further searching will be placed on “hold” until reliable and confirmed leads can be developed by investigators.
Capt. Ellington and Sgt. Bortz encourages anyone who might have first-hand and creditable information regarding this missing person case to contact the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office at (936) 336-4500 or call Crime Stoppers at (800)392-7867. Your name to Crime Stoppers will remain confidential and you could be paid a cash reward for the arrest of a suspect in a foul play case.
The investigation is still on-going.