Body in harbor is found to be Donald Baker's

April 23, 1995|By Frank Langfitt | Frank Langfitt,Sun Staff Writer

A body discovered Friday in the Inner Harbor was positively identified yesterday as that of missing Baltimore executive Donald A. Baker, city police said.

The state Medical Examiner's Office performed an autopsy yesterday, but has not yet determined the cause of death.

His widow speculated yesterday that he may have had a heart attack, and Baltimore police said that no signs indicate that Mr. Baker was a homicide victim.

"I want to absolutely stress there are no signs of trauma to the body or any signs to suggest that there was any type of foul play involved in his death," said Officer Robert W. Weinhold Jr., a police spokesman.

Mr. Baker, 52, was a marketing executive for the Chesapeake Randall food marketing firm. He disappeared two months after he filed a lawsuit accusing his business partner of trying to cut him out of a $4.2 million deal.

Company officials have denied any connection between the suit and his disappearance. They said they had nearly reached a settlement in the dispute.

Mr. Baker's wife, Carol, said yesterday that her husband could not really swim -- he only knew how to "dog paddle" -- and was frightened of the water. She speculated that he may have had a heart attack, become disoriented and fallen into the harbor.

"But again . . . I don't really know at all," she said. "We're guessing. We'll probably never know."

Deputy Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Donald Wright said it would take at least several more days to determine the cause of death, pending the results of toxicology tests and examination of tissue samples.

"There were no major injuries we could identify," he said. Dr. Wright added that the body's condition appeared consistent with the time of Mr. Baker's disappearance.

Baltimore police pulled Mr. Baker's decomposed body from the Inner Harbor on Friday afternoon near the HarborView Towers condominiums where he lived. He last was seen alive at an informal gathering of residents in the buildings' recreation room March 12. Mrs. Baker told police he left the party about 9 p.m., saying he was going out for his regular evening walk.

In addition to the cause of death, at least one other circumstance of the case remained something of a mystery yesterday.

Mr. Baker's body was recovered wearing different clothes from those his wife said she saw him in the night he disappeared.

She told police Mr. Baker was wearing a lightweight yellow sweater and gray slacks on the 57-degree evening. The body was dressed in heavy corduroy pants, a leather jacket and gloves, police said.

"It's perfectly possible that he may have changed clothes before went out on the promenade," said Officer Weinhold, who noted that temperatures generally are cooler around the water.

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