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March 27, 2013

Murder defendant faces arraignment in Fauquier

Ronald R. Cloud allegedly killed Kinloch Farm Manager Brad Baker for firing his father in December 1980.
Until January, Mr. Baker’s killing had remained the oldest unsolved murder in Fauquier County.
The murder took place in this house, since demolished.
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Updated Friday, March 29.

The defendant in a 1980 murder near The Plains will return to Fauquier County on April 30 for the first time in at least 25 years.

Fauquier authorities Tuesday extradited Ronald Richard Cloud from a West Virginia prison.

Mr. Cloud on Wednesday made a brief appearance — by video link from the Winchester regional jail — in Fauquier County General District Court for the murder of Brad Baker on New Year’s Eve 1980.

Judge Gregory Ashwell set a preliminary hearing in the first-degree murder case for late next month.

Mr. Cloud, 65, received a life sentence without parole for an April 1988 kidnapping and rape in Hampshire County, W.Va.

Fauquier officials in January charged him with killing Mr. Baker, the victim of the county’s oldest unsolved murder.

He allegedly fired 20-guage shotgun blasts into Mr. Baker’s head and groin on New Year’s Eve more than three decades ago. Mr. Baker, 30, managed the 2,000-acre Kinloch Farm, owned by Andrea and Lavinia Currier. He died at 2:40 p.m. the next afternoon at the Washington Hospital Center.

Fauquier court documents say he confessed to the killing.

“Ronald Cloud acknowledged that he was the stepson of the employee who was terminated on the same day of the murder,” sheriff’s Investigator Cory Ashby wrote in an affidavit for the arrest warrants. “The termination meant that his mother (and stepfather) would be evicted from their home during the winter months of 1980-81.

“Cloud further stated that his stepfather had no involvement in his plan to kill Mr. Baker.”

The stepfather also had an alibi for the time of the murder, Investigator Ashby wrote.

“Further, he stated that upon arrival at Baker’s residence . . . (Mr. Cloud) exchanged words at the front door with Mr. Baker, and when Mr. Baker ran into a back bedroom, Cloud broke in the front door, entered the residence, and in an exchange of gunfire, he shot Mr. Baker,” the affidavit says.

Sheriff’s investigators said soon after the murder that two shooters fired at Mr. Baker — with a shotgun and a .38-caliber pistol.

One of the shooters — with the pistol — remained outside but fired twice into the Kinloch house where Mr. Baker lived, according to the early investigation.

Fauquier Commonwealth’s Attorney Jim Fisher and sheriff’s investigators have refused to comment on the possibility of a second shooter. But, the investigation continues, with the possibility of another arrest or indictment, Mr. Fisher suggested.

Mr. Baker fired once with his shotgun before getting fatally wounded.

His date for a New Year’s Eve party discovered Mr. Baker mortally wounded — with part of his skull blown away — just before 9 o’clock Dec. 31, 1980.

Katherine Martell, an attorney with Firstpoint Law Group in Fairfax, represented Mr. Cloud in court Wednesday.
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