Real Name: Edward Gerald Baker
Location: Houston, Texas
Date: November 8, 1985
Details: Ed Baker was a wealthy Texas millionaire who had made his fortune in oil. He founded Vanguard Groups International, one of the fastest growing businesses in the United States, alongside his second wife, Mary Walker. According to her, people tended to trust him and were willing to invest in his company. He started promoting oil well exploration in 1980. After the business prospered, he developed a sort of mid-life crisis. In March 1984, he divorced Mary after ten years of marriage, spent his time gambling, got two face-lifts, and bought an expensive new Jaguar.
In September 1984, Ed remarried again, only to divorce again eleven months later to Karen Wallbridge, and remarry again two months later, this time to Sandra Hoff, one of his employees. Soon, the business started crumbling and he started spending investor's money to support his extravagant tastes. His attorney, Ward Busey, warned him that he could face jail time.
By October 1985, Vanguard's investigators were demanding money from Ed. However, the company was on the edge of bankruptcy. He allegedly arranged a cash bailout with a suspicious source. He asked his private investigator, Bob Gale, to run a background check on the source from which he had borrowed money. It seemed to have Mafia connections.
Ed seemed unable to reverse his downward spiral. At around 7:30pm on November 6, he showed up at Mary's home in a state of emotional disarray. He alluded to the fact that someone was after him. He also claimed that he had been receiving death threat letters at work. He also claimed that he had received two phone calls at his unlisted home phone number, with the caller stating "This is your day to die". She urged him to contact the police, but he claimed that they would not be able to help him. He then left and went to his home.
Ed sent Sandra to Austin as a precaution and holed himself up in his home, speaking to her by phone an hour after midnight. He told her that he had received another life threatening phone call.
Two days later, on November 8, Ed's Jaguar was found burning twenty miles outside Houston with a charred body inside. It was so disfigured that no one could tell it who it was. Forensic analysis confirmed, with near certainty, that it was him. A burnt .32 caliber revolver was found on the floor of the car. There was an indentation in the firing pin, which indicated that one shot had been fired. The other five shell casings had exploded from the heat. Three one-gallon gas cans were found in and around the car.
Just a few hundred feet from the car, investigators were surprised to find a second body. A young man in his early twenties had been handcuffed and beaten to death. However, it was later determined that he had been killed in a drug deal, unrelated to Ed's death.
That same day, a letter arrived at Ward Busey's office. It said "Dear Ward, If you are reading this letter, it means that I am dead. I've had some threats on my life, you've been a good friend to me, take care of Sandy and the kids." Enclosed was another letter that Ed wanted Ward to send to Sandra and his children.
Sandra believes that Ed was the victim of a Mafia hit. A eyewitness reported seeing an unidentified blue Chevy pickup truck fleeing the scene of the fire. However, the police believe that his death was a suicide. They learned that shortly before his death, he had called his life insurance agents. He specifically asked if his policies would pay in the event of a suicide. One, valued at $500,000, would not.
Investigators believe that Ed had shot himself in his car and had an accomplice set fire to it in order to make it look like a homicide. Sandra, however, refused to believe that his death was a suicide. She hired an independent private investigator, who believes that someone was hired to kill him.
Ward Busey disagrees; he believes that, based on the letter he received, Ed planned on killing himself. He believes that he committed suicide so that he would not have to go to jail. An arson investigator, however, does not believe that he would have been able to set fire to his car and himself and still be able to commit suicide.
Investigator Bob Gale had reasons to believe the man in the car was not Ed, but someone else and that he had faked his death to disappear. He believes that he fled to an unknown location, possibly the Caribbean, to live on funds embezzled from his investors. So far, no one has answers as to what happened that night.
Suspects: In order to bail out his company, Ed allegedly borrowed money from a suspicious source that may have had Mafia connections. It is possible that this source or the Mafia was responsible for his death. Sandra claimed that Miami mobsters had him killed because he owed them over $1 million.
An eyewitness reported seeing a blue Chevy pickup truck with chrome rails and mag wheels, speeding away from the scene of the fire. It and its occupants have never been identified.
Extra Notes: This case first aired on the October 7, 1992 episode.
Results: Unsolved. Since the broadcast, nearly all the witnesses in this case have died or passed on. Ed's first wife of 20 years was killed in a car wreck on Thanksgiving weekend 1973. Ward Busey passed away in 2000 at the age of 51.
- Ed Baker on Unsolved.com
- Wife agrees to polygraph
- Wife of slain man to take a second polygraph test
- Ed Baker - 1986 Update