We do the best we can to ensure that our children are safe and their lives are as good as they can be. But despite our best efforts, we can’t protect them from everything.
When a child goes missing, there are no limits to what a parent will do to make things right. One mother would keep up her fight for justice for decades…
Scotty Baker was a good kid. The 10-year-old boy was in the 5th grade at Paces Creek Elementary School in Clay County, Kentucky. Scotty was the kind of kid who always had a smile on his face and was friends with just about everyone. He loved to play basketball and to go shooting with his rifle.
Because his parents had divorced, Scotty would sometimes stay with his mother Ruth, sometimes with his father Donnie and his new wife Stephanie, and sometimes with his grandmother. Though he primarily lived with Rose, all three guardians lived nearby and loved spending time with Scotty, so it wasn’t a problem for them at all…
He’s Already Gone
The day before Thanksgiving, Rose went to pick Scotty up from his school at the end of the day. But when she arrived, Rose found that Scotty was already gone. It wasn’t uncommon for Scotty to take the bus to his grandmother’s house after school so she thought nothing of it.
Distressing Phone Call
Rose went back home to get ready for work, then left for her shift at the nearby Walmart. She had no idea that anything was amiss until around 7pm when she got a call from Scotty’s grandmother. She called to ask Rose if she’d picked him up from school…
The Search Begins
In a panic, Rose called her ex-husband Donnie to see if he knew Scotty’s whereabouts. When he said no, they began a frantic search to find the missing little boy. Rose and Donnie went to several of Scotty’s friends’ houses to see if he’d gone home with one of them. Donnie’s wife Stephanie went to Scotty’s grandmother’s to help call around and see if anyone had seen him.
Call the Cops
Shortly after the search began, Scotty’s family contacted the authorities to enlist their help. When Scotty wasn’t found on that first day, the fear that he had been kidnapped began to set in. As the days passed by, Donnie printed and distributed flyers with Scotty’s picture and Rose contacted the media to plead for help…
Just Give My Boy Back
Rose believed that Scotty had been kidnapped and took to television to try to get his abductors to return him. In an emotional plea to Scotty’s kidnappers, she said “please, just bring him out at the end of the driveway and let him out. It’s a long driveway. I couldn’t even see who would be in the car. Please. Please.”
The police and FBI also thought that Scotty may have been kidnapped. Because most child kidnappings are done by someone known to the victim, the FBI began questioning Scotty’s family with a lie detector test. Each member of the family genuinely seemed to know nothing about Scotty’s disappearance except one…
When the FBI interviewed Stephanie, her polygraph test results indicated that she’d been lying. This was puzzling to investigators because she was extremely convincing when she said that she had no idea where Scotty was. One agent said it seemed like she was “the best liar [he’d] ever seen.”
Check Her Alibi
As part of her story, Stephanie said she’d been doing laundry with her friend Susanne. When the FBI interviewed Susanne, she proved to be a terrible liar. She maintained Stephanie’s alibi during the lie-detector test and failed miserably. Afterward, while shaking with emotion, she confessed to investigators what had actually happened…
In the excitement of the day before Thanksgiving break, hundreds of parents had come to Scotty’s school to have lunch with the students, Stephanie convinced Susanne to wear a wig and go to the office and check Scotty out early using a fake name. As Scotty got into the passenger seat of Susanne’s car, Stephanie was hiding under blankets and coats in the back seat.
Kicking and Screaming
While Susanne drove, Stephanie grabbed Scotty by the neck from behind and started strangling him. The poor little boy screamed and struggled, fighting for his life. He kicked the dashboard hard enough to dent it and even wet his pants…
Hiding the Body
The medical examiner would later testify that it had taken 5 to 10 minutes for Scotty to die. “[Stephanie] said I would be the one who would get blamed, so I helped her bury him,” Susanne said. They drove to an abandoned strip mine and buried Scotty there. Later in the day, they returned in another car with jugs of gasoline and burned Scotty’s body.
With the information they got from Susanne, the FBI quickly located Scotty’s body and arrested Stephanie. Apparently, Stephanie had been “insanely jealous” of the love and attention her husband, Scotty’s father gave to his son. The cold-hearted woman believed that “all [her] troubles were over” after she’d murdered the 10-year-old…
Stephanie’s lawyer claimed that Donnie had been abusing her and that was the reason she’d killed Scotty. The alleged abuse was never proven and ultimately, Stephanie was found guilty of kidnapping, abuse of a corpse, and reckless homicide and was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.
For Rose, the 25 years between when her son’s killer was imprisoned and she could be released passed by a lot faster than she thought. In that time, she’d married and divorced again. Her 2 surviving daughters had 4 children of their own, whom she loved to dote upon. Then in September of 2017, Stephanie’s case was set to go before a parole board…
Finding God and Love
In the time that she’d spent in prison, Stephanie had received a degree in divinity and a diploma in Bible studies. She’d gotten married and even had a child behind bars. When she went before the parole board, she told them that killing Scotty had been a terrible mistake she’d made in her youth.
Just Be Quiet
Stephanie said that when Susanne took off her wig, Scotty got scared and tried to get out of the moving car. Stephanie had grabbed the back of his sweatshirt and pulled to keep him in the car. “He was screaming. … I just wanted him to stop fighting and be quiet,” she said…
By contrast, Scotty’s death was still fresh in Rose’s mind. She asked the members of the parole board if they had children and to imagine if Scotty had been their child. Describing Stephanie as a “thing” and not a person, Rose said she would kill her with her bare hands if given the chance. She demanded that the parole board order Stephanie to spend the rest of her life in prison.
The parole board were skeptical of Stephanie’s version of events, questioning how she could have acted normally in the days after Scotty’s killing. Of her claim that it was a youthful mistake, one member of the parole board said “we’ve all been young, and most of us have survived our youth without murdering someone.” They ordered Stephanie to serve out her full life sentence.