Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Haunted Crime Scenes: The Murder of Samuel T. Baker

A Misguided Idea

Another theory is that Samuel Baker was drunk and that, armed with a bottle of booze and an already unsteady gate, he fell and struck his head on a tombstone, or a rock, or a park bench. But that notion, too, lacks support. Yes, there was a broken bottle of whiskey on the ground where Samuel fell, but there is no evidence he drank from it.

In fact, there is evidence to the contrary in the form of a witness statement that Samuel bought the bottle for a sick friend. Although the police charged Samuel with public drunkenness, their only evidence of his intoxication was that his clothes smelled of alcohol, not an unexpected thing for someone knocked to the ground on top of a broken bottle of whiskey; and that his speech was slurred, again, not unexpected from someone with a head injury so severe that it would kill him within just a few hours.

That misguided idea, thoughthat Samuel Baker was so drunk that he fell and essentially killed himselfhas sullied a good man's reputation for more than a century.

What is certain, based on an examination of the existing evidence, is that in the wee hours of a November morning in 1901, someone murdered Samuel Baker. Whoever did it got away with it, and while it is too late to punish Samuel's murderer or murderers, a thorough reinvestigation of the crime, to include an examination of any records the Police Department maintained on Samuel Baker and the service records of the officers involved in the case, might help clear Samuel's name.

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