Melissa Diane Baker
23 Years Old

November 19, 1973 to March 26, 2004

Melissa Diane Baker was born on November 19, 1973 in Chicago, Illinois where we adopted her and brought her home from the hospital on November 29, 1973. We loved Melissa from the first moment we laid eyes on her, a beautiful baby with bright blue eyes.
Birthday celebrations for Melissa always lasted several days so extended family, various friends, neighbors and later co-workers could help recognize her special day. It was apparent that cheesecake was a favorite and, although not a traditional birthday cake, it was Melissa’s choice. For 30 years, I made her favorite cheesecake, half plain and half with cherries. She introduced her friends to the delight of cheesecake and there was always enough for everyone to take some home.
When Melissa was two years old we moved from Darien, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, to Phoenix, Arizona. There Melissa became a true “sunshine” girl and learned to swim right away. She would get golden brown from playing outside and her hair would get as blonde as corn silk making her big blue eyes even brighter. She and her Dad would take a small grill on the grass by the pool and cook hotdogs for lunch. Her love of backyard cookouts stayed with her all her life.
Melissa was five years old when we moved back to the Chicago area for a short time. That was 1978 and we arrived just before a snow blizzard and “Missie” learned to enjoy playing in the snow. But, after five years, we all agreed we liked the sunshine better and were back in Phoenix by 1983.
As Melissa grew we did all the usual activities that kids enjoy. She belonged to Brownies, Girl Scouts and Camp Fire Girls. She enjoyed music and took piano and flute lessons. Melissa also loved animals so we always had an abundance of all kinds of pets.
Melissa was always smiling and loved people. She had strong convictions and would never betray a friend’s confidence. Just like she brought home animals in trouble she frequently opened our home to friends in need. She always wanted to be a psychologist and seem to have a natural talent for knowing what to say and do for anyone in need.
She worked hard and managed to buy her first home at age 26. Melissa was an excellent cook and often prepared home-cooked meals for friends and family. She loved having company and would often have barbecues at her house. As much as Melissa loved her home she also liked to travel and especially liked cruises.
Melissa was a very loving and compassionate person who touched the lives of many people, both young and old. Her smile was sincere and she brought sunshine wherever she went. There are no words to describe the emptiness her loss has left in our lives, as well as the lives of everyone who knew her. Melissa was one of a kind and will never be forgotten by all who loved her.

CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE MURDER

Early in the morning of March 26, 2004, our daughter, Melissa Diane Baker, while asleep in her bed, was brutally bludgeoned to death with a tire iron by Richard “Carlos” Becerra Garcia. Melissa had worked with “Carlos” for about nine years and considered him a working friend. Carlos was married with two small children.

Friends told police that Carlos had exhibited some unusual behavior in the past regarding his relationship with Melissa. It was assumed that he wanted to be more than a “working” friend” even though she was engaged to be married.

We put our grief on hold to help find Melissa’s murderer. Thanks to the efforts of Parents Of Murdered Children (POMC) and the advice of the Victim’s Assistance Program Carlos was arrested and charged with First Degree Murder and Burglary about a month later. I am not sure he would have been arrested and convicted if I had not kept detailed notes with dates, times, places and names of everyone we spoke with regarding her murder.

Even though Carlos pled guilty, we had to accept a Second Degree Plea Bargain for our daughter’s murderer since much of the evidence that was collected during the investigation was compromised by the police. He is serving 22 years at the State Prison in Florence, Arizona with no possibility of parole. We continue to monitor the prison web site to be certain he remains in custody.
We can never forget the horror of what we saw when we found our daughter that afternoon. Our lives are changed forever and our family is shattered.

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Melissa Baker