VINCENNES, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) -Two women were murdered in Vincennes two years apart. A clue left at each crime scene linked the cases.
Brook Baker was a 19-year-old Vincennes University college student.
“She had a lot of friends, a lot of relationships,” Vincennes Police Chief Bob Dunham, who helped investigate the case said.
She hoped to perhaps one day be a journalist.
But in September of 1997, she was found dead in her off-campus home.
“When the uniformed officers arrived and discovered Brook, they realized they had a homicide,” former Knox County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Hal Johnston noted.
Brook was raped and stabbed 11 times.
“She fought for her life,” Johnston stated. “The last moments on this earth were horrific for her, but she put up a hell of a fight.”
Johnston recalled a clue at Brook’s home: Water running in the bathtub.
“There had been towels and other material thrown in that made it look like somebody had tried to clean-up,” according to Johnston.
Police spent two years looking into the case, they even traveled to other states collecting DNA samples, but still no arrest.
It was not until 1999 that investigators got the break they needed. Unfortunately, another young woman, Erika Norman, was attacked, but this time her body was missing.
“She was a real good student. A real nice kid,” said Johnston.
“The apartment was in such disarray with blood swipes on walls and stuff,” Dunham remembered. “That I knew a violent crime had occurred.”
And there was a clue that connected Erika’s disappearance to the Brook Baker case: Water running in the bathtub.
“I called Greg Winkler with ISP and told him, I said, we got another one. It was just an eerie feeling,” Dunham remarked.
Erika was last seen with a man named Brian Jones who also lived in Vincennes.
“Ran a criminal history check, nothing on him,” Johnston mentioned. “No reason at this point to really say that he’s somehow guilty. We just need to interview him and see what he says.”
Jones said a lot. He admitted to knowing Brook Baker. He also gave a DNA sample
Dunham remembers it was the middle of the night when he received the call that Jones’ DNA matched the DNA on Brook’s body. “It was like 12:30 a.m. and Greg called me ’cause the lab called him. We’d been looking so long.”
Jones was arrested for Brook’s murder, but where was Erika Norman? That answer came a few weeks later when a farmer found her body in a rural Illinois cornfield across the Wabash River from Vincennes.
Jones was then charged with her death as well.
He pleaded guilty to the murder of Erika Norman. Johnston theorized it was probably due to overwhelming evidence of his guilt. Johnston said blood consistent with Erika’s was found in the trunk of Jones’ car and even underneath the frame of his shower door, where he most likely washed-up.
A judge sentenced Jones to 60 years in prison for Erika’s murder.
He went to trial for the rape and murder of Brook Baker, and a jury found him guilty of those crimes as well. He received a sentence of life in prison.
According to the Indiana Department of Correction’s Offender Search, Jones remains locked up in the Wabash Valley Correctional Facility.