In South Carolina in 1987, a little boy named Paul Baker disappeared. His case is listed on many sites as a non-family abduction and, perhaps, that’s what happened. But authorities have long suspected Paul’s father, James, and stepmother, Susan, were involved in his disappearance. James himself suggested Susan might have harmed his son, but the next day he backpedaled and said he’d changed his mind and thought she was innocent after all.
Paul’s six-year-old sister, Nina, was removed from the home two and a half weeks after her brother’s disappearance and never returned to it. Authorities discovered she’d been subject to severe physical abuse at Susan’s hands, bad enough that Susan was charged with assault and battery with intent to kill. Susan pleaded guilty to a reduced charge, was sentenced to ten years, and got out of jail after serving a whopping eighty days. (Still can’t figure that one out.) Nina was sent first to foster care, then to her grandmother, then to her biological mother. James and Susan moved to Florida. Paul was never found.
In what sounds like something out of a bad movie — or, at least, a Law and Order episode — Susan was linked to another child’s disappearance in late 2009: a baby girl, Shannon Dedrick. Susan was Shannon’s babysitter and half-sister to Shannon’s father. After five days, Shannon turned up in a box hidden under Susan’s bed. Miraculously, she was alive and well, and I hope she was too young to suffer any mental afteraffects of the experience.
Authorities charged both Susan and Shannon’s mother, Chrystina Mercer, with a wide range of felonies. The story was that Shannon’s mother decided to give the baby to Susan for keeps, but then for some reason she told the police the baby had been kidnapped. Apparently, neither Paul Baker nor Shannon’s father had any idea of the situation. (Unsurprisingly, both of Shannon’s parents were viewed as dysfunctional. Chrystina is bipolar and I believe one or both of them is also slightly mentally retarded. Shannon is now in foster care. Her parents do seem unfit, but Susan was hardly a better alternative.) This was all highly publicized and lead to some articles on Paul’s disappearance as well, but seemingly without any positive result in his case.
Well, almost a year later, Susan has been found guilty of three felony charges: aggravated child abuse, interference with custody, and giving false information to law enforcement officers. The child abuse charge is for stuffing Shannon in a tiny box and leaving her there for a combined total of some 26 hours over five days. Susan’s defense is that she was trying to protect the baby from Chrystina. Her attorney actually compared it to Moses’s mother putting him in a basket and setting him adrift on the Nile. Riiiight. Susan faces up to 35 years in prison and let’s hope she actually serves more than 1% of it. Chrystina has yet to be tried.
My question: so now is James finally going to divorce that twat?
And finally, where is Paul?
Some articles about the conviction:
WMBB News 13
The Walton Sun
Some articles about the trial:
WJHG (jurors get to view Shannon’s box)
The Walton Sun (Chrystina called to testify, takes the Fifth)
WMBB News 13 (Susan Baker testifies in her own defense, acts the part of martyr)
Walton Sun again (cops testify)
Foster Folly News (Shannon’s dad testifies)