Updated: Wednesday, 06 Mar 2013, 4:14 PM EST
Published : Wednesday, 30 Jan 2013, 9:45 PM EST
Testimony continued Wednesday in the trial of a Vigo County man accused of killing a woman and badly injuring her toddler son in 1979.
Richard Boswell is charged with murdering Kathy Jo Baker, who went missing May 22, 1979 and was found dead the next day. He is also charged with the attempted murder of her son Ryan Baker, who was found lying injured at Ms. Baker’s feet.
In testimony Wednesday, Indiana State Police troopers and detectives explained how the investigation into Baker’s death resumed in 2008.
State trooper Hans Novak testified that, in April 2008, a woman contacted state police and told them that a man she knew was responsible for the murder. Novak said the woman’s tip proved untrue, but he said it did lead investigators to review files from the case in 1979.
During that investigation, he said, police noticed that DNA samples from the case had not been submitted to the state crime lab. When those samples were submitted to the state lab and run through a statewide DNA database, the system reported that the DNA sample from the scene matched Boswell.
After the match, detectives went to speak with Boswell at his parents’ home near Riley. During testimony, prosecutors played audio of that conversation. In it, Boswell tells police that he had been friends with Baker’s two brothers, but he said the two never had any physical contact and barely knew one another. Boswell said his only direct interaction with Ms. Baker came one day when she asked him to fix a lawn mower.
Jurors also heard testimony from a woman who lived near the Bakers at the time of the murder. In 1979, the woman had told police that she had seen Boswell driving a yellow car in one direction through the area during the days before the murder and that she saw him driving that car toward Riley.
Upon questioning by the defense, the woman admitted she told police in 1979 that she had also seen two brothers who lived nearby driving through the area in another yellow car during the days before the murder.
Prosecutors also called Dr. Lawrence De Renne, who performed the autopsy on Kathy Jo Baker. In his report, Dr. De Renne had listed Ms. Baker’s cause of death as both asphyxiation and strangulation. He also said external bruising and internal injuries indicated that Ms. Baker’s attacker had grabbed her by the neck.
Defense attorneys noted that, when Ms. Baker was found dead, an article of clothing had been stuffed into her mouth and that the article had been removed before the body was taken in for the autopsy. When asked, Dr. De Renne said knowing that the article had been in the mouth could have proven valuable in performing the autopsy.
The trial is set to continue Thursday.
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