The cold case murder of Tara Louise Baker - Athens, Georgia - January 19, 2001

On January 19, 2001, at around 11:00am the Athens-Clarke County Fire Department received a notice about a burning residence at 160 Fawn Drive Athens. Fire fighters where quickly at the scene and noticed heavy smoke and flames coming out of the apartment. They tried to find a way to get inside of the building to possibly save lives of habitats. 

After kicking in the front door and entering the building, fire fighters noticed all four burners on an electric range were on high in the kitchen. While trying to put out the fire, the crew also noticed that the bedroom door was locked. They decided to kick in the door, and ended up in a bed-room that was ablaze. When the brave men had almost extinguished the fire, they sadly found the dead body of a woman. It was that of Tara Louise Baker. She had died just a day before her 24th birthday.

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About Tara Baker
Tara was born on januari 20, 1977 in East Point Georgia, and grew up in the small town of Love Joy, Georgia, in a family with with one younger sister and two younger brothers. She graduated from Love Joy highschool in 1995 and dreamed of becoming a lawyer or even a judge. She was definitely smart enough for it. In 1998 Tara graduated cum laude from Georgia College in Milledgeville with two impressive bachelor's degrees in political science and paralegal studies. She then moved to Athens in 1999 after she got accepted to the UGA School of Law. And although she studied a lot, she also found time to work in a local law firm called Fortson & Bentley. 

After entering law school, her aspirations from becoming a prosecutor or judge shifted towards building up a career in real-estate law.
Her family and friends described their beloved Tara as an adoring person, who was truly motivated to better the world. Her younger brother recalled ''If you were one of her friends, you meant the world to her''. She was also described as a very intelligent and kind person, and someone who always had a resolute sense of justice and fairness. Tara was known by her co-students as a very dedicated student. 

Police Investigation
Body examination concluded Tara Baker probably had been beaten, stabbed, strangled and potentially sexually assaulted before her apartment was razing with fire. One thing was certain, she was murdered before flames took over her bedroom. Fire fighters did not find any signs of a forced entry when they arrived at the scene. Detectives concluded the fire was intentionally set in the bedroom by her killer, while he also had set all four burners on the electric range in the kitchen on high. Probably to mask the crime and destroy potential evidence. Painful as it is, it did result in the police not finding any real clues about the perpetrator. They did suspected he had left the burning house through the open kitchen window.

During the investigation detectives talked with a lot of students, family members and friends of Tara. They also spoke with her boyfriend, who initially became a suspect, but was cleared after passing a polygraph test. His alibi also turned out to be right. The police kept an eye on several people (including an 'odd' classmate who was seemingly in love with Tara) and checked them all for involvement in the murder. In the end, it did not lead to any arrests.

Media coverage
Years passed, and the murder of Tara was occasionally covered by the media. Many publicists wrote about it, and filmmakers made videos about it on YouTube. A very detailed podcast was created by Cameron Jay. Tara's family was especially grateful to him. The attention in the media provided lots of new tips and information, but unfortunately the perpetrator remained unknown until today.

Tips and Information
Twenty+ years later, the relatives state that many mistakes were made in the investigation. The family felt that they were not included at all in the investigation of Tara's murder. And although they also obtained interesting information at the time, the police did not want to listen to any of it. Still, they continue to hope for answers, and together with the police, Tara's family believes the case can still be solved. They truly deserve answers to the questions they've had for all these years. 

So, do you know anything about the murder of Tara Louise Baker? Have you heard rumors, or noticed anything suspicious in all these years? 
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