Texas EquuSearch Midwest conducts second search for Erica Baker, missing since 1999

Updated: May. 9, 2021 at 9:31 PM EDT
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WAYNESVILLE, Ohio (FOX19) - For the second time in recent weeks, Texas EquuSearch Midwest has helped search for a young girl who has been missing for more than 20 years.

Erica Baker, 9, disappeared in February 1999. Police said she was last seen walking a dog near the Kettering Recreation Center. Although the dog was later found, Erica remains missing to this day.

Investigators have stated that a man named Christian Gabriel confessed to driving a van that hit and killed Erica. According to police, Gabriel has directed them to different properties over the years, claiming Erica is buried at the sites. However, she has not been found at any of them.

Texas EquuSearch Midwest teams searched for Erica on Saturday. It is the second time the organization has helped with the case in recent weeks.

Despite swampy surfaces and some wet weather, Director Dave Rader said they spent hours searching the Caesar Creek area in Waynesville.

“You’re facing mother nature by everything’s in bloom. Everything is real thick and covered up, so it makes it a little bit more of a challenge,” Rader said. “We went ahead and did Google maps to see what it was like back 22 years ago, and we found that there was a lot of places that we looked into that almost were the same as what it was 22 years ago as far as access roads.”

Rader said unfortunately, they did not discover anything related to Erica’s case.

“The suspect had taken the detective over near that area,” Rader said. “At the end of the day, when today isn’t the day, then you kind of get deflated a little bit, but we pick each other up, and we keep moving forward.”

Although it is a disappointing outcome for those involved, Rader said they will never give up on searching for missing people and are already prepared to go back out and look for Erica again should investigators request their help.

“There’s one person that can put this all to rest, and he chooses not to do that,” Rader said. “We’re very hopeful that one day Erica’s family will have that closure that they desire and need.”

Gabriel did serve time in prison related to Erica’s case for charges of tampering with evidence and abuse of a corpse.

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