On the evening of 30 July 2011, Kerran ‘Kerry-Ann’ Baker disappeared without a trace.
Ten years later, her friends and family still live in hope that the clinical nurse, who came to Cayman dreaming of a successful career and happy life, will get justice.
In this month’s Cayman Compass Cold Case files, in partnership with the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service, we delve into the murder of the 25-year-old Baker.
Baker’s family declined to participate in this series, however they issued a short statement saying, “We are both very thankful for and supportive of the efforts of the police, but the extent of our grief at this time means that we just aren’t able to engage with the media.”
A case and a crime that haunts
Over a crime investigator’s career there are some cases that are always remembered and victims who cannot be forgotten, no matter how many years pass by.
For Chief Inspector Joseph Wright, the murder of Baker, who disappeared 10 years ago from her Arrow Drive, Bodden Town home, is one that haunts him to this day.
“I have never had a murder inquiry that I have conducted that I’ve never been able to come to a close and this inquiry has bothered me. During the investigation, I met her family… I met her fiancé so it remains one of those things that keeps recurring on my mind… exactly what could have happened regarding Kerran Baker,” Wright said in a recent interview with the Compass.
Wright was the initial investigator when Baker was reported missing on 1 Aug. 2011. The Jamaican-born nurse had been living in Cayman for three years, prior to her disappearance.
Although the homicide investigator has moved on in his career and is now attached to the RCIPS Professional Standards Unit, Wright said he still thinks of Baker and her family.
“They would want to know what happened to their daughter, to their loved one. And therefore, it has never, ever, left my mind in me wanting to discover what happened to Kerran Baker,” he said.
That desire for closure has motivated the head of the RCIPS Serious Crime Review Team, Detective Sergeant Peter Dean, his colleagues to work to solve Baker’s case.
“I’ve dealt with both her stepfather and I’ve met her mom who live in Jamaica at the moment and that’s been a terrible, terrible thing for them to have to put up with, now as we come up to nearly the 10th anniversary of not knowing exactly what happened to their daughter. It was a good family relationship… it was a close family relationship,” Dean said.
Missing person report
The events of 30 July 2011 remain shrouded in mystery for investigators and those familiar with the case.
Wright said something about the case was not right from the get-go. Four of Baker’s friends turned up at the George Town police station to report her missing the next day.
“We initially went to her address where we got access to her [home] from the landlady and we discovered that definitely she wasn’t there. However, from inquiries that we had picked up earlier, we knew that she went out shopping, but the items that she had were still in the house, not necessarily put away,” he said, indicating something was amiss.
CCTV footage obtained from Foster’s Airport store showed Baker shopping and leaving the premises.
All indications were that she made it home.
“We believe the person responsible for her murder, visited her at that address on the evening of Saturday, 30th of July, and that some incident of some nature we believe probably happened there,” Dean said.
He theorised an element of jealousy could have triggered whatever happened in Baker’s apartment.
“At this stage and really until we get to the truth, we will not know,” he said.
Baker’s last contact with her mother, Sandra McFarlene-Anthony, was on the evening of 30 July in which she told her that she had wired some money to her in Jamaica.
After that initial contact, no one was able to raise Baker, either by phone or by text.
Her car, a white Honda Civic, was discovered abandoned close to the cemetery near Pedro St. James. The doors were locked, and the keys were found tossed in the nearby bushes. Wright said forensic evidence was gathered in the car and in the apartment.
Extensive searches for Baker were conducted, with some 200 volunteers joining the effort to locate the missing woman.
Wright said there was no indication initially that she was already dead.
However, he said, it is RCIPS policy to ensure that all missing persons get investigated with the same vigour as any kind of homicide probe.
“A major incident was opened. A detective inspector and several detectives were assigned to commence a full-blown investigation. We were hoping for the best, but we were ensuring that we investigated this matter just as we would any kind of homicide,” Wright said.
He said immigration checks were made to determine if she had left the island. Records showed she re-entered the Cayman Islands on 25 April 2011 and there was no record of a departure after that.
“Up to that point there was no indication that she left the Cayman Islands by normal means. So, therefore, we considered that in itself to be suspicious and something may have happened to her,” Wright said.
Dean pointed out that the night of Baker’s disappearance there was a CCTV image of a person walking from the direction where her car was found, back to Arrow Drive where Baker lived.
He said that night there was a heavy downpour, and the image was too grainy to make out the individual or their features.
“That is a person we would like to speak to. We, and when I say ‘we’ I mean including the original investigators, have tried to identify who this person is, and [up to] today we’ve not been able to. Now, through the fullness of time and, and all the inquiries that we have carried out, we are [confident] that there are people in the community that know at least some of the facts regarding the disappearance of ‘Kerryann’ Baker and, whether they’re struggling with their conscience, or not, today, I really do want to appeal to those people to come forward,” he said.
Dean said the abandoning of Baker’s vehicle could have been the killer dropping it off, rather than a clue as to what happened to her.
“There’s nothing to say Kerry-Ann was… put in the sea or hidden there; it may just be where he tried to hide the car,” he said.
Suspect detained, charges don’t stick
Wright said, during the initial investigation, in which UK officers were enlisted to assist, more than 90 investigative actions were undertaken and more than 70 witness statements were recorded.
“We collected all different kinds of material, and all of those materials were reviewed, analysed and, as a result of that investigation, we did form a hypothesis that Ms. Baker was murdered. A suspect [profile] was developed,” Wright said.
Anyone with information relating to Kerran Baker’s murder can call the Serious Crime Review Team confidential tip line at 649-2930.
A suspect, a 35-year-old man at the time, was then arrested and interviewed under caution.
Wright said a case file was put together and submitted for legal review.
“But, at the time, there was not enough evidence to suggest that the suspect that we had developed could be charged for any offence,” he said, adding that was a challenge with cases where the body has not been found.
While he said it is not impossible to prosecute cases without a body, it requires the public’s help since it is difficult to prove what befell the victim.
“I know that someone knows exactly what happened to Kerran Baker and if we were able to get people who know more, that may be what is required to get this matter over the line, in terms of successfully prosecuting someone for what happened to Ms. Baker on that fateful evening,” Wright said.