Left and Center: Erica circa, 1999
Right: Age Progressed to age 24
Vital Statistics at Time of Disappearance
Missing Since: February 7, 1999
Missing From: Kettering, Montgomery County, Ohio
Classification: Endangered Missing
Date Of Birth: June 22, 1989
Age: 9 years old
Height and Weight: 3’11” and 65 pounds
Distinguishing Characteristics: White Female, Blonde hair, Hazel eyes, Erica has a distinctive oval shaped, tan colored birthmark which was said to be about the size of a dime on one of her hips, she has a scar on the inner arch of one of her feet, Erica’s teeth were crooked at the time of her 1999 disappearance, she has pierced ears, Erica’s name might be spelled as “Erika”
Clothing/Jewelry Description: A pink raincoat, a pink Winnie The Pooh sweatshirt, a pair of pale blue jeans, and white sneakers with purple inserts
NCMEC Number: 860119
Details of Disappearance
Erica was last seen in Kettering, Ohio on February 7th 1999. She spent the majority of her day with her father, Greg Baker, in the area. She was a little upset since he had forgotten to purchase tickets for a father/daughter dance that was happening in the future. She did get upset but calmed down a short time later.
Greg dropped Erica off at her mother, Melissa Baker’s home at approximately 3:00 pm in the afternoon. Sometime after this, Erica asked for permission to walk her aunts Shih Tzu dog in Indian Riffle Park, this was close to her home at the time. Melissa gave her permission to take the dog there and she left the house at some point between 3:30 pm and 4:00 pm.
After her disappearance, two witnesses reported that they saw Erica sitting with the dog on a bench near the parks pond sometime after 4:00 pm. The two witnesses were a couple who were walking their own dog at the time. She disappeared at some point after this and was never seen or heard from again. Her family began to search for at 5:15 pm when she never returned home.
The dog was later found by the couple who saw Erica before, it was found near a house on Glengarry Drive. The dog ran and dragged its blue leash as it went to the witnesses. They called animal control to pick up the dog but was unaware it belonged to Erica until later that night when news reports surfaced about her case.
Her family notified the police of her disappearance at 8:05 pm when they find no trace of her. A huge search was initiated by police and volunteers. Hundreds of people searched for Erica but couldn’t find any indications of her whereabouts at the time.
Several days after her disappearance, a pink Winnie the Pooh Sweatshirt was discovered on a rod in Germantown, Ohio. The price of clothing was something that Erica was wearing on the day of her disappearance. Her parents said it did not belong to Erica. Bloodhounds positively identified Erica’s scent as being on the clothing.
Greg and Melissa were investigated in her case. They both passed polygraph exams and are not considered suspects in her disappeared. Investigators have asked for assistance in identifying two possible witnesses in Erica’s case. They were spotted in the area at the time she was last seen. The first witness is described as a white female jogger. She was wearing a white title neck, black stretch pants, and white sneakers.
The other witness is described as a white middle aged male who was wearing a black raincoat and was walking a long haired spaniel looking dog. Neither person has been identified but they might have viable information regarding Erica’s case and are interested in questioning them.
Authorities have named several suspects in connection to Erica’s disappearance. In July of 1999, they named Christian Gabriel and Jan Franks as possible suspects in her disappearance. They both had criminal records at the time and were drug users in 1999. Authorities had no evidence to charges them at the time. In January of 2000, authorities named 4 men as possible suspects in her disappearance. Some of these men had histories of child molestation. None of them were charged since no evidence was found.
Authorities believe that Erica is deceased and was killed in a fatal and run car accident on the evening of her disappearance. Christian Gabriel and Jan Franks are the two people who were identified as the drivers of the van that allegedly hit Erica that day. Jan died in December of 2001 from a drug overdose and her lawyer refuses to discuss what Jan might have revealed about Erica’s death.
In December of 2004, Gabriel contacted authorities regarding Erica’s case and three days later, he admitted to killing Erica by hitting her with a van that he and Jan were driving in that day. He told police that they didn’t call for help because they had criminal records. Instead, they picked her up and put her in the van. They drove off.
Gabriel admitted to burying Erica to cover up the crime and any evidence of her death. Gabriel was indicted on charges of gross abuse of a corpse and tampering with evidence in relation to her disappearance. A garbs jury refused to indict Gabriel on charges of causing Erica’s death since her body has yet to be found.
He has led investigators to several possible areas that her body might’ve been in big searches uncovered no evidence of her whereabouts. Gabriel was convicted of all charges brought against him and he was sentenced to 6 years in prison for the crimes. Erica’s family fears that she survived her injuries and might’ve been buried alive. Gabriel stated her body was twisted and broken but didn’t know if she was actually dead or not.
Gabriel served his time in prison and was released in June of 2011. Erica’s grandmother, Pam Schmidt, picked Gabriel up from jail and attempted to get information about her granddaughters location. He didn’t give her anything and hasn’t revealed any information since his release. Investigators believe he knows where Erica’s body is bit doesn’t want her found since he’ll face more charges if she is found.
Erica’s family refuses to give up on locating her. They still have a little bit of hope she might be alive and out there. Police believe she’s deceased and the only way to solve her disappearance is to recover her remains. They also want to bring her home for her family’s sake. She brought much joy to her family and was described as a vivacious child and affectionate towards her loved ones. She loved cheerleading and liked to play dress up. Her pageant had both divorced by the time she disappeared.
Erica’s disappearance remains unsolved and foul play is suspected. She’s never been located despite search efforts. Authorities are actively working on her case.
If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:
Kettering Police Department 937-296-2555