The sheriff at the time said it looked like a grudge killing, “something a jealous husband might do.”
On Tuesday, law enforcement officials said that they had finally cracked the case: They issued a warrant for Ronald R. Cloud, whose stepfather had been fired by Baker at Kinloch Farm the day of the killing.
Cloud, who authorities said has confessed, will face first-degree murder and other charges, Fauquier County Commonwealth’s Attorney James Fisher told a small crowd gathered in a historic building in Warrenton’s courthouse square. Cloud, 64, has been in prison in West Virginia since the late 1980s, serving time for assault and sex-assault offenses involving a child, according to online state records.
There could be other arrests in connection with the case, Fisher said. More than one weapon was fired inside Baker’s house, but Fisher declined to give more information, saying that the investigation is “to some degree ongoing.”
Still, he said, investigators are confident that they know what happened on the night of Dec. 31, 1980.
Baker, bleeding to death, was found by the woman he was to take to the New Year’s Eve party.
She was separated from her husband. The door to Baker’s secluded farmhouse, on the perimeter of Kinloch Farm, had been broken down that night during a driving snowstorm, and nothing appeared to be stolen.
Baker had been shot in the head and the groin. Investigators quickly focused on the women whom Baker had been dating, and their families, as they searched for a motive. A Washingtonian magazine article in the mid-1980s called it “Blood and Money: Murder in the Hunt Country,” and described “a love story” that ended with “blood on the snow.”
Kinloch Farm, which now has about 50 employees and 1,000 acres, was then owned by Andrea, Lavinia and Michael Currier, the children of Stephen and Audrey Currier. Audrey Currier was the granddaughter of the famed financier Andrew Mellon. She and her husband raised Angus cattle and racehorses at the estate but disappeared in 1967 when a chartered plane they were on crashed in a storm in the Caribbean.
Baker was friends with the three siblings, and Andrea Currier and Baker dated at one time, according to news accounts at the time. She was on her honeymoon on the night of the killing.
Reached by phone Tuesday afternoon, she said she may be asked to testify in the case, so she would not comment other than to say, “I’m very, very happy this is being resolved.”