Arrest in 1979 murder of Kathy Jo Baker

Kathy Jo Baker Tribune Star file photo Bob Poynter

Tribune Star file photo Bob Poynter

Richard L. Boswell Jr., a convicted sex offender, has been arrested and charged with murder and attempted murder in the 1979 murder of Kathy Jo Baker (20). That case was recently reopened by the Indiana State Police. He made his initial appearance this morning in Vigo Superior Court 6 to face the allegation that he abducted and murdered Kathy Jo Baker in a rural area northeast of Riley on May 22, 1979.

Boswell also has been accused of attempting to murder the woman’s then 2-year-old son, Ryan Baker, by striking him in the head and leaving him for dead near his mother’s body. The boy sustained a serious head injury. The child was taken to a hospital for treatment and recovered.

Boswell pleaded not guilty in both cases. Vigo County Prosecutor Terry Modesitt said that the range of prison time Boswell could face would be based on the guidelines from 1979. He’s still researching what those guidelines are.

Detective Troy Stanton said it is the ISP’s practice to continually review cold cases. It was in April 2008 that a new lead came up in this case. A DNA sample was collected from a suspect, and several items of evidence from the Baker case were sent to the ISP Laboratory for DNA analysis.

In March 2010, almost two years after the DNA was submitted for testing, ISP detectives received lab results showing that DNA evidence found on Baker’s clothing matched Boswell’s DNA profile. The case was then assigned to Stanton and Guinn, who began examining evidence, reviewing case files, and interviewing and re-interviewing people about the case. “DNA is a big part of this case,” ISP Sgt. Watts said. “Kudos to the investigators on how it was properly packaged, properly held and properly maintained for 31 years.” More here.

UPDATE: Judge Michael Lewis sentenced Richard L. Boswell Jr. to 55 years for Baker’s murder and 45 years for the attempted murder of her son. He ordered that they run consecutively for a total of 100 years in prison.

Boswell’s only comment in court came when he said that he would appeal his sentence and asked for pauper counsel.

Boswell was later convicted in 1991 for attacking and confining another woman, whom he also raped. He was convicted and served 15 years in prison in that case, before being released from prison in 2006.

The prosecution said Boswell’s criminal history, the age of Kathy Jo Baker’s son at the time, and the long-term injuries to the boy were aggravating circumstances that justified the maximum sentence in the case.