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January 15, 2013

West Virginia man killed Brad Baker, authorities say

VIDEO: Commonwealth's Attorney Jim Fisher names Ronald R. Cloud as the defendant in the 1980 murder.
Richard R. Cloud, 64, got sentenced to life without parole for a 1988 kidnapping and rape in West Virginia.
Brad Baker fired Mr. Cloud's stepfather from the Kinloch Farm staff the day of the murder, according to court documents.
Mr. Baker's sister Blythe Patenaube: “His murder was a tremendous loss for our family. But, today, his brother Bruce and I celebrate.”
Photo/Sheriff's office
Mr. Cloud said he entered this house — since demolished — on Kinloch Farm and shot Brad Baker twice with a 20-guage shotgun.
Athough investigators identified the defendant as a suspect in 1995, the case blew open in December, Commonwealth's Attorney Jim Fisher said at Tuesday's press conference.
Nothing is going to bring Brad back. It’s a terrible emptiness for us. But, the peace comes from the affirmation and the support of our justice system.
— Blythe Patenaube, victim's sister
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Updated at 4:19 p.m.

A man since imprisoned for life shot and killed Brad Baker 32 years ago on a farm near The Plains, Fauquier law enforcement officials said Tuesday.

Ronald Richard Cloud will face first-degree murder and related charges, Commonwealth’s Attorney Jim Fisher said at an afternoon press conference.

Mr. Cloud has confessed to the murder, according to court documents.

He allegedly fired 20-guage shotgun blasts into Mr. Baker’s head and groin on New Year’s Eve 1980.

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.

The Baker case had remained the oldest unsolved murder in Fauquier County — spawning widespread speculation, rumors and news stories over three decades.

Mr. Cloud, 64, received a life sentence without parole for an April 1988 kidnapping and rape in Hampshire County, W.Va.

Authorities on Tuesday refused to discuss Mr. Cloud’s alleged motive or whether he acted alone in the Baker murder.

But, court documents, filed Tuesday morning, 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.

Mr. Fisher refused to comment on the possibility of a second shooter. But, the investigation continues, with the possibility of another arrest or indictment, he 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.

Sheriff Luther Cox, who has since died, along with Investigators Ashby Olinger and Ronnie Stalls took charge of the crime scene that night.

“Based on the evidence we have, it looks like a grudge killing of some kind,” Sheriff Cox said at the time. “It’s the kind of thing a jealous husband might do.”

Investigators interviewed Mr. Cloud’s stepfather, whom Mr. Baker had fired. But, because of his alibi, they moved to other theories.

Kinloch’s size, the wealth of its owners and the Hunt Country mystique fired speculation.

Three years after the murder, in December 1983, Washingtonian Magazine published freelance writer Jack Erickson’s breathless piece, “Blood and Money in the Hunt Country.”

It focused mostly on the personal lives of Mr. Baker and the Curriers, heirs to part of the Mellon fortune whose parents had disappeared in a 1967 plane crash near Cuba.

The magazine story told of sheriff’s investigators working with a psychic and the sheriff’s theory about a professional “hit man.”

Mr. Fisher said Tuesday the salacious theories had no merit.

“While I can’t tell you what the motive was, I can certainly tell you what the motive was not,” Mr. Fisher said Tuesday afternoon. “There was no motivation of a romantic nature or sexual nature whatsoever.”

Mr. Cloud became a suspect in 1995, the prosecutor said in response to a question.

Sheriff Charlie Ray Fox Jr. put new emphasis on the case — and five other murders then unsolved in Fauquier — when he took office in January 2004.

Mr. Fisher became the county’s lead prosecutor about 18 months ago.

“Shortly after that, Sheriff Fox came to me and said, ‘We need to resolve this’,” Mr. Fisher said of the Baker case.

In recent years, virtually every member of the sheriff’s office Criminal Investigations Division devoted some time to the case, according to Lt. James Hartman.

“Sheriff Fox allowed us to have the leeway to put together an investigative team,” Lt. Hartman said.

Most recently Investigators Charlie Bopp, Don Cahill and Cory Ashby led the effort.

“The month of December is when the case really opened up” after six months of intense activity, Mr. Fisher said.

He declined to elaborate, despite a flurry of questions from reporters — including those with four Washington TV crews — in the press conference at the John Barton Payne Building in Old Town Warrenton.

Investigators have warrants to arrest Mr. Cloud on four charges: first-degree murder, use of a firearm in a felony, entering a dwelling with intent to commit murder and maliciously shooting into a building.

The evidence will play out in a Fauquier County General District Court preliminary hearing, after Mr. Cloud’s extradition, Mr. Fisher said. He expects that hearing to take place in February or March.

Mr. Baker’s older sister, Blythe Patenaube called Tuesday’s announcement “an affirmation that our system works.”

To conclude Tuesday’s press conference, Mrs. Patenaube spoke at length about her brother and the case.

“To me, he was known for his kindness and generosity,” she said, recalling Mr. Baker’s efforts to organize sports for needy children around The Plains and his passion for locally-grown food and organic methods.

“His murder was a tremendous loss for our family. But, today, his brother Bruce and I celebrate.”

Their parents have died, she said.

Mrs. Patenaube, a Maryland resident, singled out Sheriff Fox, sheriff’s Capt. Charlie Bopp and former Investigator Todd Durica “for their kind communications with us . . . . For those of us who are families of victims, you cannot imagine the pain and grief.”

Saying she plans to attend the court proceedings, Mrs. Patenaube called the identification of her brother’s killer “a gift” that gives “hope to families” in similar situations.

“Brad was a very kind and generous person — generous to a fault,” she said. “He was really thrilled to have the opportunity to work at Kinloch.

“Nothing is going to bring Brad back. It’s a terrible emptiness for us. But, the peace comes from the affirmation and the support of our justice system.”
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camara & milton 4eever · January 15, 2013 at 5:19 pm
he'll get out next week. and is moving to mexico
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