Vital Statistics at Time of Disappearance
Details of Disappearance
Erica took her gray-and-white, Shih Tzu, Jaime, for a walk around 4:00 pm on Sunday, February 7, 1999. Police say around that time an elderly couple saw Erica and her dog walking in a nearby park, around a pond. When Erica didn't return home by 5:30 pm her family went looking for her. Later that evening, police say, Erica's dog was found by the same couple wandering alone at the nearby middle school, still attached to it's leash. Police and over 300 volunteers joined the search, even draining the pond, but to no avail.
Police believe Erica was struck by a van driven by Christian Gabriel or someone close to him while walking her dog. The people in the van then took Erica's body away and disposed of it, never reporting the crime. Allegedly, those in the van had been shoplifting and were speeding away from the scene. They were also allegedly under the influence.
Christian John Gabriel, 33, has been charged with gross abuse of a corpse and tampering with evidence. He is being held on $250,000 bail while he finishes a nine-month prison sentence for receiving stolen property in Clark County.
Gabriel has said he was a boyfriend of Jan Franks, a drug addict who reportedly told friends she was in the van that hit Erica. Franks died of an overdose in 2001, but her husband waived her right to attorney-client privilege to allow Beth Lewis, Franks' federal public defender in an unrelated case, to testify about anything Franks may have told Lewis about Erica's disappearance. Lewis has been fighting in the courts for two years to keep from testifying, but prosecutors still want to hear what, if anything, she knows.
In October 2005, Gabriel was found guilty of corpse abuse and evidence tampering.
If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:
Kettering Police Department
National Center For Missing and Exploited Children
Daytona Daily News
The Official Erica Nicole Baker Website
Ohio News Now