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Victim’s relatives puzzled by suspect’s Antarctica stint

Robert Baker appears in Island County Superior Court. - Jessie Stensland / The Record
Robert Baker appears in Island County Superior Court.
— image credit: Jessie Stensland / The Record

The niece of Greenbank murder victim Kathie Baker says her aunt had no idea that her husband is a convicted sex offender.

Kathie Baker’s husband, 62-year-old Robert “Al” Baker, is facing a murder charge for allegedly killing her last summer, wrapping her body in a tarp and hiding it in a ravine behind their home, according to court documents.

A prosecutor revealed last month that Robert Baker spent five years in prison for sexually assaulting a minor before he met his wife at a scientific research station in Antarctica.

Kathie Baker’s niece, Oregon resident Jamie Hill, and her attorney, Charles Arndt, of Coupeville, are trying to figure out how Robert Baker was allowed to work for Raytheon Corporation at the isolated South Pole facility given his felony convictions.

They have also filed a lawsuit aimed at preventing Robert Baker from inheriting his wife’s property, including her portion of their marital property, or receiving any life insurance resulting from her death.

Eric Ohme, senior deputy prosecutor for Island County, said Robert Baker was convicted in California in 1991 on three counts of unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor. He served five years in prison.

Hill said the revelation shocked Kathie Baker’s family.

“All of us had a relationship with a person we thought existed,” she said, referring to Robert Baker. “But nobody knew the real him.”

Hill said she’s convinced that Kathie Baker knew nothing about Baker’s criminal history.

“Kathie was an amazing, loving and joyful woman,” she said.

Kathie Baker was a meteorologist, a computer programmer, a mentor to high school girls and one of 12 women to ever winter at the South Pole.

Hill said she’s dumbfounded that Robert Baker was allowed to work with others in the isolated facilities at the South Pole.

Both Bakers worked for the Raytheon Corporation. The company provides logistics support for the U.S. Antarctic Program, which is managed by the National Science Foundation.

Hill said Kathie Baker had to go through an extensive background check and a mental health evaluation before she was allowed to journey to Antarctica. She said her aunt and all the other employees at the close-knit South Pole group likely assumed that everyone went through the same checks and that it was a safe community.

“He was a manager, which means he was able to pick his prey,” she said. “It’s a job that really isolates them from the rest of the world.

Hill said she contacted Raytheon about the issue, but received no explanation. A Raytheon official told the Whidbey News-Times that he couldn’t comment.

Robert Baker was hired as a cryogenics technicians in 2001 and later became the science support coordinator.

Robert Baker also met his alleged mistress at the South Pole station. The woman was visiting him at the house in Greenbank while Kathie Baker’s body was hidden in a ravine behind their woodshed and the rug was stained with her blood.

Arndt filed a petition on Feb. 12.

The petition asks a judge to find that Robert Baker is “a slayer” under the state’s slayer statute, which prevents people from reaping financial gains by the killing another.

If Robert Baker fights the petition, it could lead to a second trial in which attorneys try to prove that Robert Baker killed his wife, though a civil trial has a lesser standard of proof.

His trial in the criminal case is set for July 16.

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