Neighbors say teen was often yelled at
Gary Baker often verbally abused his 17-year-old nephew, screaming profanities at the Lebanon High School student, according to neighbors.
On Thursday the nephew, Jonathan Baker was arraigned in Linn County Circuit Court on a charge of murder for the death of his uncle.
The teen appeared in court in shorts, a T-shirt and shackles, and Judge Deann Novotny ordered him held in jail without bail.
Attorney John Rich represented Jonathan Baker, and the next hearing in the case is set for Oct. 5.
The indictment said Gary Baker, of Waterloo, was slain on or about July 30 but listed no cause of death.
Baker had been reported missing July 31 by business associates who said he missed scheduled meetings. His body was found Aug. 8 on his wooded property near the South Santiam River.
In mid-August, the Democrat-Herald canvassed the Waterloo neighborhood where the Bakers lived.
Neighbor Sara Solberg said she witnessed Jonathan Baker being scolded harshly a few times and afterward he chastised Gary Baker.
Solberg and neighbor Kelly Wuori said Gary Baker was short with fellow residents along Woodbine Drive.
“A few people had a few problems with him,” Wuori said. “I heard that he yelled at the kid constantly. I never heard it myself, but other people had.”
Wuori said Jonathan would talk to neighbors as he came from the school bus on some days.
“He would walk by and be very friendly and outgoing. We never had any problems with the kid,” Wuori said.
She added that Jonathan had lived with his uncle for about five years.
Solberg said that when she was pregnant, the teenager would offer to help her out with chores.
After Gary Baker was reported missing, deputies checked his residence three times before obtaining a search warrant and discovering the body.
At about 1:30 a.m. on Aug. 6, Jonathan was arrested on Interstate 5 on charges of reckless driving and felony attempt to elude following a pursuit that started in Albany and ended near the Enchanted Forest. Several law enforcement agencies were involved in the pursuit. A police report at the time listed him as a murder suspect, though the Sheriff’s Office never named him as such in prepared statements.
Before Thursday’s hearing, Jonathan was being held on the pursuit charges in the Linn County Juvenile Detention Facility.
According to court records, in 1987 Gary Baker was the owner of the Beaver Hut, a Corvallis bar. The El Presidente restaurant now operates at that location on Second Street.