The farm’s owners were related to families whose names carried an aura of wealth, prominence and accomplishment. They were Andrea, Lavinia and Michael Currier, and they were descended from Andrew Mellon, the celebrated capitalist, and David K.E. Bruce, the noted diplomat.
The suspect, who was not identified because the issuance of a warrant is pending, is in prison in West Virginia, said Lt. James Hartman of the county sheriff’s office. The man had been sentenced on charges unconnected to the killing in The Plains.
Baker was killed with a shotgun on Dec. 31, 1980, as he dressed for a New Year’s Eve party in a farmhouse outside the Kinloch perimeter that had just become his home.
The then-sheriff of the county, Luther Cox, had termed the killing a grudge murder, suggestive of an act motivated by jealousy.
Hartman declined Monday night to discuss a motive in a case that he said had “throughout the years been part of the local lore.”
However, he said, “there is a motive,” and authorities are “pretty sure we know what it is.”
Hartman gave few details about what led to the decision to seek a warrant, other than to say that it followed years of inquiry and effort.
The case appeared to be one of the oldest in the Washington area in which a warrant was sought. In many such cases in which charges come long after the offense, DNA evidence is involved, or a new witness comes forward.
In a statement, the sheriff’s office said that recent “progress in new investigative techniques and avenues of inquiry” led to the identification of a suspect and other witnesses.
Hartman declined to give details.
In the days after the killing, people in Fauquier, about 45 miles southwest of Washington, depicted Baker as akin to a figure from a romance novel: an attractive, ambitious stranger who moved into an environment of wealth and privilege and went on to achieve close relations with one of the county’s highly regarded families: the Curriers.
The three Curriers were the children of Stephen and Audrey Currier, who was the daughter of David Bruce and the granddaughter of Andrew Mellon.
Among the elder Curriers’ activities were the raising of racehorses and Angus cattle at Kinloch, which once occupied 1,900 acres. The couple disappeared in 1967 after boarding a chartered airplane that vanished in a Caribbean rainstorm.
More information about the murder investigation probably will be available Tuesday, Hartman said.
In the statement, the sheriff’s office said Fauquier’s commonwealth’s attorney, Jim Fisher, and sheriff, Charlie Ray Fox Jr., joined in announcing that they have authorized a request for warrants in the case.