Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Haunted Crime Scenes: The Murder of Samuel T. Baker

The Search

Meanwhile, Samuel's son-in-law, E.M. Hopkins, had grown nervous about his father-in-law's absence. He grabbed his hat and coat and began to retrace his steps to the office of John Lynes & Company.

Colonial Park Cemetery
Colonial Park Cemetery

Hopkins knew his father-in-law usually cut through Colonial Park Cemetery, so he followed Lincoln Street into the cemetery. Whether Hopkins carried a lantern with him, or whether the young man just had keen eyesight is not known, but what is known is that almost immediately upon entering through the south gate, Hopkins spotted a pool of blood and a broken whiskey bottle on the walkway.

Unsure if the blood was connected to his father-in-law, Hopkins continued toward his office, although likely with more urgency after having seen the blood. Perhaps Samuel had returned to the office to finish up some last-minute detail and had simply lost track of the time. Samuel carried a pocket watch, but as men age they tend toward forgetfulness and Samuel Baker was 62, certainly old by the standards of 1901 America.

Hopkins found the office of John Lynes & Company locked up tight, just as he and Samuel had left it more than two hours before. Next, Hopkins roused the fruit vendor. He knew Samuel often stopped at the man's stand to chat and perhaps to pick up a late-night snack or a grapefruit for breakfast. The fruit seller said he hadn't seen Samuel since before midnight, when he and Hopkins had left their office.

Had his father-in-law said anything about where he was going? Hopkins asked.

Samuel had said he was going to stop off for a shave at Gayou's Barbershop, the fruit vendor volunteered.

Hopkins practically ran all the way to East Broughton Street. He found the barbershop locked up for the night.

Next he went to the police barracks on East Oglethorpe, on the northern border of the cemetery.

He told the desk sergeant he was looking for any information about his father-in-law, Samuel Baker, an accountant with Lynes & Company.

"Samuel Baker did you say?" the sergeant asked.

"Yes," Hopkins answered.

It's doubtful the police sergeant even needed to consult his book, the oversized bound ledger into which went the neatly printed names of everyone the police arrested. But whether the sergeant did or did not consult the book, E.M. Hopkins had his answer soon enough.

"We've got him under arrest for public drunkenness," the sergeant said.

"What!" came Hopkins shocked reply.

After the sergeant related the story of how his officers came into contact with Samuel, Hopkins either posted his father-in-law's bond or convinced the sergeant his men had made a mistake. Either way, by 3:00 a.m., the police released Samuel to his son-in-law, who brought him home to East Charlton Street.

For the next few hours, Samuel, who was later discovered to have suffered two severe blows to the head, drifted in and out of consciousness. At one point, he mumbled a cryptic message to Hopkins. "Leave my clothes and shoes," Samuel said. "There are two to one. Please leave my clothing."

Samuel Baker died about 6:30 that morning.

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