AMY BAKER would have turned 48 years old next week, on March 16. She was murdered almost 30 years ago, two weeks after she turned 18. She was on her way home to Stafford County the night of March 29, 1989, when her blue VW Beetle ran out of gas near what was then the Newington exit on Interstate 95 in Fairfax County.
She was missing for the next 36 hours, until her mother, Sue, found her body in the woods near where the VW had been abandoned. It’s a moment forever burned into her memory.
Amy’s murder has never been solved.
“It’s a cold case for them,” Sue Baker said of the Fairfax police, who on that first day said it was too early to investigate without any indication a crime had occurred. “They don’t call anymore. We only talk to them if we call them.”
As the years went by and DNA technology improved, Baker said police offered mixed messages on whether the DNA found in Amy’s body was suitable to be matched with the expanding database of such evidence.
She and her husband, Mark, still hold out hope for some closure because it’s all they can do. “It just takes one call,” she said. “Even after all these years, somebody knows something.”
But if anyone does know something, they haven’t come forward. At least not yet. Amy Baker’s case is far from alone. There are several unsolved cold cases in and around the Fredericksburg area that date to the mid-1990s.
Sue Baker mentions Alicia Showalter Reynolds as another of the area’s memorable cases. Reynolds was the victim of an apparent roadside abduction on March 2, 1996, attributed at the time to the so-called “Route 29 stalker.” Her remains were found about two months later in the Lignum area of Culpeper County.
In Sept. 18, 1996, Anne Carolyn McDaniel, a 20-year-old who lived in a group home in Orange County, disappeared. Her body was discovered four days later—also in Lignum, but no connection to the Reynolds case was ever made.
Thelma Scroggins was 74 when she was found shot to death at her home—again, in Lignum—on July 14, 1996. After convictions based on a recanted confession were overturned, the case remains unsolved.
Many Virginians will remember the Shenandoah National Park slayings of campers Julianne “Julie” Williams, 24, and Laura “Lollie” Winans, 26. They were found slain at their campsite on June 1, 1996. An arrest was made in that case, but charges were later dropped and the case remains unsolved.
(No discussion of this deadly period of time can omit three other slayings that were eventually solved. Sofia Silva, 16, was abducted from the front steps of her Spotsylvania home on Sept. 9, 1996, and her body was found in King George County about a month later. Sisters Kristin, 15, and Kati Lisk, 12, were abducted from their front yard in Spotsylvania on May 1, 1997, their bodies found five days later in Hanover County. All three deaths were attributed to serial killer Richard Marc Evonitz, who committed suicide while on the run in 2002 as police closed in on him in Florida.)
The thing is, sometimes the coldest cases do get solved—cases even older than those described above. Sisters Katherine Mary Lyon, 10, and Sheila Mary Lyon, 12, disappeared on March 25, 1975, while walking home from a shopping mall in Wheaton, Md.
In 2013—38 years later—cold case investigators in Montgomery County, Md., came up with a lead that eventually took them took them to Bedford County, Va., and lifelong sex offender Lloyd Lee Welch Jr. After a lengthy investigation, Welch pleaded guilty in 2017 to the murders of the two girls and will certainly die in prison. Though their bodies were never found, they are believed to have been disposed of somewhere near Welch’s family home in Bedford County.
Though decades pass and memories blur, the important thing is that we never forget. And those with even the slightest knowledge of the most insignificant detail have an obligation to come forward.
For the friends and families of these victims, their cases never go cold. Whether it’s news of another young woman who’s been slain, or just glimpsing a photo of Amy around the house, “We face it everyday,” Sue Baker said of the loss of their daughter. “We wonder what she’d look like now.”