Chosen by Tara H., this case is Erica Nicole Baker, a nine-year-old who disappeared from Kettering, Ohio on February 7, 1999. Kettering is a suburb of Dayton, and about an hour and a half south of the hamlet where I grew up.
Erica went out to walk her aunt’s dog and never returned. The dog was found running around unaccompanied with its leash still attached, and eventually got picked up by Animal Control, but there was no sign of Erica.
She has been missing for 18 years, but we pretty much know what happened: Christian Gabriel was convicted of evidence tampering and abuse of a corpse after he confessed to running over Erica with a van, panicking and then disposing of her body. There are two other suspects who were thought to have been in the van at the time, but one of them died and the grand jury declined to indict the other one. Gabriel, who has since been released from prison, has retracted his confession and nobody knows where Erica’s body is.
I got approached, via the private message on the Charley Project’s Facebook page, by a young man who said he thought he was a certain child who had disappeared from Florida. I advised him to contact the NCMEC and gave them their tip line number. He claimed the NCMEC were “corrupt” and trying to cover up the disappearance of another child, a girl, who had disappeared from that same county in Florida a few years after the missing boy did.
He said the girl’s parents were trying to help cover up her disappearance too, and that the police knew all about it and weren’t doing anything because they wanted to avoid a lawsuit.
I told him I was unable to assist him and then he accused me of being paid by the girl’s parents to help cover up her disappearance!
He also found a two-year-old blog post of mine that had been shared on Charley’s Facebook page, which mentioned the missing girl, and posted a photograph of a young woman whom he claims is her. Whoever that young woman is, I didn’t want her photo on Charley’s Facebook page, but I couldn’t figure out how to delete his comments so I had to delete the entire post from the Facebook page. Fortunately the only comments on it were his.