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April 30, 2013

Death row inmate says he 'deserves to die'

(Continued)

MICHIGAN CITY, Ind. —

“I told her, ‘Don’t scream.’ ... Everything fell apart from there,” Baer said between long pauses. “I tried to rape her ... I killed her ... I cut her throat.”

Baer won’t talk about the murder of the four-year-old daughter. Investigators believe she ran from the room in terror, followed by Baer, who then restrained and killed her with the knife.

“They didn’t deserve to die,” Baer says through tears. “I don’t know why I did it. But every day I’ve thought about it ... for the past eight years. ... All the pain I’ve caused. All the hurt I’ve caused.

“I remember the words of [Cory Clark’s] mother on the witness stand: ‘Why?’ And I’ve asked that every day for the past eight years.”

Baer's double murder conviction was not his first encounter with the crime. In 1983, his sister was murdered by her ex-husband, tragically culminating a turbulent and abusive relationship.

Baer said her death was a turning point, causing him to turn to drugs and to stealing to support his addiction. By his late 20s, he was continually in and out of jail.

Law enforcement officials said he eventually became a serial rapist, using the ruse of needing to use a telephone to talk his way into women's homes. After his arrest in the Cory Clark case, investigators found "trophy" items taken from the homes of his victims.

Madison County Prosecutor Rodney Cummings, who tried the Baer case, said if there’s one person in Indiana who should be put to death, it’s Baer.

Baer doesn't disagree.

"So many people's lives have been destroyed because of what I've done," he said. "All I can do is hope one day the family might forgive me, if that's even possible. I don't expect them to understand because I don't really understand. There's no reason for a person to do that to another person."

Jack Molitor is a writer for the Anderson, Ind., Herald-Bulletin.

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