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Kidnapping Suspect Says He Was “Love Drunk”

Tuesday, April 9, 2013 @ 12:04 AM

Posted by Joanne Bauer

CLARION, Pa. (EYT) – Court documents say a Leeper man stated he loved the 13-year-old Clarion girl who he traveled with to South Dakota before he was apprehended by officials on April 5. The man said he was “love drunk,” according to the documents.

According to a Police Criminal Complaint, on March 27, 31-year-old Joshua David Baker, of Leeper, was at the Clarion Ford garage with his wife to look at a new car. Baker wrecked his car the week prior and went to the Ford garage to purchase a newer vehicle.

According to documents, while Baker and his wife were at the garage, Mrs. Baker went to the restroom, and Mr. Baker left her at the garage.

A salesman at the Ford garage said he saw Mr. Baker running through the parking lot and got into the vehicle he arrived in and sped off squealing the tires as he left.

Mrs. Baker told police that they received an insurance check and came to Clarion to cash it. She told police that her husband had approximately $5,475.00 in cash that she knew of.

Documents state Mr. Baker returned to their residence in Leeper, took some clothing, a PS3 game system, 30-08 Rifle, a crossbow and some guitars. He left a note in the mailbox of their residence stating that he wanted a divorce and made reference to his children.

During interviews with friends and associates of Baker, he told them that he was involved in a relationship with Sewell and he “loved” her. Baker, a cousin of Alexandria’s mother’s fiancée, stated to his friends that Sewell was with him when he was involved in the accident, and that he wrecked the car because he was “love drunk.”

Press Conference with Clarion County District Attorney, Mark Aaron at 2:00 p.m. on April 8, 2013

Present at the Press Conference: Clarion County District Attorney, Mark Aaron; Clarion County Assistant District Attorney, Drew Welsh; Chief of Clarion Borough Police Department, Mark Hall; Clarion Borough’s Primary Investigator, Officer William Peck.

“Josh Baker was at a Clarion Ford Dealership with a large amount of cash. At that time, for unexplained circumstances, he left Clarion Borough and returned to his residence, leaving his wife behind at the Clarion Ford Auto Dealership.

Early in the morning the next day, March 28, Alexandria Sewell was seen leaving her home by a younger sibling at approximately 2:00 a.m. That matter was reported to the Clarion Borough police at approximately noon on March 28 and was assigned to Officer Peck for investigation.

At that time, we received information from interviews that these two individuals were in a relationship and were likely together.

From the interviews, at that time, it was learned that possible locations where they could be heading to were potentially were Florida, Mexico, and/or South Dakota. South Dakota was of particular interest because we learned that that’s where Mr. Baker spent a large amount of time in his youth.

Officer Peck began following up the investigation on April 3. Items were found as you see in detail in the criminal complaint in the Helen Furnace Cemetery. Those items were obviously removed from a Subaru which obviously peeked our attention relative to this investigation as we were aware that they were traveling in a Subaru.

Officer Peck conducted a search of the surrounding area with the local fire department on that date with no results.

On April 4, we were very fortunate and we got a lucky break from a very observant young lady who worked at an optometrist office in Rapid City, South Dakota. She observed two individuals, an older male and a younger lady approaching their optometry office. She termed the situation as strange, and she was very observant and observed the vehicle and the license plate number when these individuals were leaving.

She, thankfully – and her name is Sarah Peters – she didn’t drop it there. She got on the internet and started doing a little research on her own and came across the missing person poster and reports from Pennsylvania.

At 1:00 a.m. the next morning, April 5, Officer Peck was contacted by Rapid City and advised of the situation, and in consultation with Rapid City, Officer Peck and myself and our authorities here in Clarion County, we decided at that time to go through with what was potentially a chance to bring these two in the next day in Rapid City, South Dakota.

They had made an appointment to have the young lady subject to an optical exam the next day. Unfortunately, they did not appear for that optical exam, so that opportunity did not come into fruition.

At that time, Officer Peck and Chief Hall and myself and Mr. Welsh consorted with the South Dakota authorities, and I have to say, and I think that Officer Peck can confirm this, we were extremely pleased with the amount of cooperation and law enforcement professionalism shown by the law enforcement authorities in South Dakota. This wasn’t one of their own. This was a young lady from Clarion, Pennsylvania, but they obviously took this very seriously, and they worked this case very hard.

On the incident at the optometrist’s office the next day, they actually, to my knowledge, had approximately 14 people assigned undercover to try to bring this situation to a resolution.

But, at that time, based on the amount of cooperation we were receiving from South Dakota, we decided instead of publishing it and saturating, hopefully with the media’s assistance, that they were in the South Dakota’s area, based on some tips we were receiving – which we are not going to divulge at this time – we made the tactical decision to essentially to let the South Dakota authorities work it because based on what they were doing, we had a lot of confidence that they were handling it well and doing a good job.

Fortunately, on Saturday, the next day, Mr. Baker and the juvenile female were taken into custody at a Dairy Queen in Martin, South Dakota.

Right now, Mr. Baker, after taken into custody, he was taken to a Martin, South Dakota, holding facility, and based on information from South Dakota, he actually did try to escape from that facility, causing some damage to the Martin, South Dakota, holding facility.

The FBI has been involved, and at this point, they have taken custody of Mr. Baker, and he is in custody in Rapids City, South Dakota, in a Federal holding facility.

The victim is in temporary protective custody in South Dakota. There is a hearing later today relative to her status, and at this time, we are working on bringing together all of the assets we have here in Clarion County to assist the mother and the family when this young lady is returned to Clarion County. We already have in place a professional counselor to deal with any counseling needs of the young lady when she returns. Clarion County Children Youth is apprised of this situation and will also assisting the family when the young lady is returned to Clarion County.

Any information on the return is pending the hearing which is 3:30 South Dakota time or 5:30 our time. So, we really don’t have anything further that we can release on her return to Clarion County.

Baker is currently charged with Kidnapping, and Interference with Custody of Children.

At this point and time, relative to the legal situation of Mr. Baker, we expect within the next day that the federal authorities will indict him on federal charges of kidnapping and taking the victim across the state lines, and obviously the US Attorney’s Office will be handling that matter.”

*Alexandria Sewell’s mother Jaime gave a brief statement at the press conference. She asked the media to respect her family’s privacy and also thanked the public for support.

“I want to thank the public for support and prayers during this extremely difficult time,” said Sewell.

Q & A with the Media at Press Conference

Media: How did the victim and this man know each other and what was the nature of their relationship?

Aaron: They knew each other from a family relationship of a man the mother was involved with. He is associated with him. We have been told things by interviewing friends and associates and relatives – the exact nature of the relationship, we are waiting hopefully for the results of the interview of the young lady from South Dakota to piece that together to see if there are any other potential charges there. I am not really going to elaborate on the exact nature of their relationship while still here in Clarion County until we get that information. We – the authorities of Clarion County – have not yet been able to speak with her or get the results of those interviews.

Media: Do you know how she has been? Has she been cooperating?

Aaron: Well, the best I can tell you is, she is in protective custody in South Dakota. As she is a juvenile, I would rather not make any comments on her specific behavior at this point and time. On Saturday while Officer Peck was with her mother, she was able to have a lengthy telephone conversation with her mother, which was obviously very emotional, but we expect that South Dakota will be releasing her to Clarion County authorities to bring her back here as soon as possible.

Media: Does Mr. Baker have a criminal history?

Aaron: not of any significance that I am aware of.

Media: Since they didn’t show up at the optometrist’s shop, that next day when they were found at the Dairy Queen, can you tell us any more about how that went down, how they were found there?

(Video Courtesy KDKA)

Aaron: Well, it was some very good police work on the part of South Dakota. Once they were aware that this pair was in South Dakota, it wasn’t an Amber Alert but….they put out basically an APB for all law enforcement agencies to be on the lookout, and by chance…a law enforcement in Martin, South Dakota, observed the vehicle, called it in, and then the South Dakota authorities then gave the Martin local police department all of the information they needed and there was a warrant outstanding for Mr. Baker and they proceeded to make the arrest at the Dairy Queen.

Media: How did everything go down, though? The complaint said he had some weapons with him.

Aaron: We had suspicions that Mr. Baker had a weapon. Again, I don’t have those reports with me right now to be able to tell you exactly what happened when they were taken into custody.

Media: From the criminal complaint, it almost seems like he crashed his car to get the cash. Is there any indication that there was any pre-planning involved?

Aaron: Well, obviously there was some pre-planning involved in this. Whether or not he crashed his car intentionally is speculation at this point. But, obviously that amount of money that he received as an insurance settlement was the seed money for this trip.

Stay with exploreClarion for continuous coverage of this developing news story.

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