Updated: Tuesday, 29 Jan 2013, 6:58 PM EST
Published : Tuesday, 29 Jan 2013, 6:52 PM EST
TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) - Proceedings began Tuesday in the trial of a Vigo County man charged with murdering a woman and attempting to murder her young son more than 30 years ago.
On May 22, 1979, Kenneth Baker reported coming home to find his wife Kathy Jo Baker and their toddler son Ryan Baker missing from their home near Riley, Ind. The next day, a neighbor reported finding Ms. Baker lying dead in a patch of cattails with her son lying alive but injured at her feet.
Eventually, the case went cold until 2010, when authorities charged Richard Boswell of Riley, Ind. with the murder. The charges came after Indiana State Police received a tip about the case, reviewed some of the physical evidence from the case and eventually sent a tiny DNA sample from Mrs. Baker’s shirt to a lab for analysis. When the sample was run through a statewide DNA database, authorities said it listed Boswell as a match.
On Tuesday, Boswell went on trial, accused of murdering Mrs. Baker and attempting to murder her son.
During opening statements, prosecutors said they will focus on DNA evidence they believe links Boswell to the crime.
“One little drop is as good as a bucket,” one attorney told the jury.
Prosecutors said they also plan to call a witness who met Boswell in prison. That inmate, who they said is serving time for a double murder, told authorities that Boswell told him that he had killed a woman and tried to kill her son.
In their opening statements, Boswell’s defense said investigators also found two other unknown DNA samples on Ms. Baker’s clothing. They also said that the investigators who worked that case in 1979 seemed to have not followed proper police protocol. They pointed out that photographs of footprints at the scene did not include rulers or measuring tape.
Boswell’s defense also said the inmate expected to testify for the prosecution is a sociopath, and they said he has testified in another Vigo County case before, after which he was moved from a prison in Michigan City to the Wabash Valley Correctional Facility in Carlisle.
After opening statements, prosecutors called their first witness, Mrs. Baker’s husband Kenneth, whom trembled as he took the stand and wept as he spoke. Mr. Baker said the two had a happy marriage.
“It was storybook true love,” Mr. Baker said. “I wanted to be with her and she wanted to be with me. It doesn’t get…better than that.”
Baker described coming home on May 22, 1979 to find the family’s kitchen prepared for lunch, Mrs. Baker’s clothes lying out on the bed, and both his wife and child missing.
Baker said he called the sheriff’s department but was told he would have to wait 24 hours. He said he then called State Police, who visited his home and came with a helicopter to search the area the next day.
One of the neighbors who helped search the next day testified later in the trial.
He reported that a group of neighborhood kids reported hearing some form of crying while they were out fishing the day Kathy and Ryan Baker went missing. When the neighbor went to the area where they boys had been, he found Ms. Baker lying in a cluster of cattails with the child injured at her feet.
Monday afternoon, jurors heard testimony from a state trooper who arrived at the scene and who took Ryan Baker to an ambulance, and from a retired crime scene technician who worked the case.
The technician reviewed physical evidence taken from the scene back in 1979, including clothing, hair, dirt and other items. When asked by the defense, the technician said those working the scene had not made casts of the footprints they found, although he said making such casts was not uncommon at the time. He also said that, when taking photos of footprints, he did not include rulers or tape measures in the photos.
The trial will continue Wednesday.
News 10 will continue to follow this case and bring you the latest information as it is made available.
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