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Woman Pleads Not Guilty to Charge She Strangled Her Stepson

December 03, 1992| From Associated Press

LONDON, Ky. — A pregnant woman pleaded not guilty Wednesday to a charge that she strangled her 10-year-old stepson for fear the boy would steal attention away from her child.

Preliminary autopsy results released Wednesday indicate that Donald Scott Baker was strangled Thanksgiving Eve, the day he was abducted from his elementary school, Laurel County Deputy Coroner Doug Bowling said. The body was then burned and dumped in an old strip mine pit where it was found Tuesday about eight miles east of London in rural southeastern Kentucky, he said.

The boy's stepmother, Stephanie Baker, 22, of London, and her best friend were charged with murder. Other charges were pending a grand jury review, said state police Trooper Gilbert Acciardo Jr.

Mrs. Baker is two months pregnant. Her husband, Donnie Baker, the boy's biological father, said he thought his wife of nine months wanted his son "out of the picture" so their child would get all their attention.

Baker, 33, said he knew of his wife's jealousy because she picked fights with him over the boy.

"I never knew it was this serious, though," said Baker, his voice breaking. He gave police a diary in which his wife allegedly expressed a wish that the boy were dead.

"She intended on doing it from the beginning," Baker said. "Cold."

During arraignment Wednesday, Laurel District Judge Henry Stoltz denied bond for Mrs. Baker and scheduled a preliminary hearing for next Tuesday.

Susanne Renee Baker, 22, also of London but not related to Stephanie Baker, was in custody in Florida on charges of murder and being a fugitive. A spokeswoman for Dade County Corrections and Rehabilitation, who wouldn't give her name, said documents indicated the woman had waived extradition to Kentucky during a hearing Wednesday in Miami.

It was her tip to FBI agents in Miami that led police to the body, Acciardo said.

The boy had been missing since a woman identifying herself as Patricia Smith walked into the crowded Paces Creek Elementary School the day before Thanksgiving and checked Donald out of class.

Seven counselors and psychologists spent Wednesday at the boy's school to help the 350 students cope with the death.

"We thought it was the best to go ahead and have school and have the children in so we could start dealing with their problems . . . their anger, their fear and those things," Principal Caleb Collins said.

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