Man charged in sucker-punch incident now charged with flight

Barry Baker
Barry Baker

WEST CHESTER >> The Chester County District Attorney’s Office announced on Thursday a criminal complaint against Barry Baker Jr. for flight to avoid apprehension after he allegedly led law enforcement on a two-week manhunt.

Baker, 29, formerly of East Fallowfield, was originally arrested for reportedly mocking and then allegedly assaulting a man with cerebral palsy on May 10. After he made bail, two additional warrants were issued for his arrest and he reportedly fled. He was captured by the United States Marshals and the Chester County Sheriffs on June 5.

Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan said that Baker “sucker punched” a man during an unprovoked attack at 2:30 a.m. outside of a 7-Eleven convenience store in the 200 block of South High Street in West Chester Borough. Baker was arrested for assault, had his parole revoked, allegedly went on the run and was captured. He has now has been charged with flight.

“This is how Chester County law enforcement deals with bullies who pick on disabled people,” Hogan said.

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Baker’s fiancée, Denise Ranae Schmidt of Delaware has been arrested for allegedly helping him flee and his father has been arrested for allegedly dealing drugs.

The D.A.’s office recounted that Baker turned himself in to law enforcement on May 22 with his lawyer and was arrested by West Chester Borough Police for the assault. He was subsequently released from custody after posting bail.

That same day, the Chester County Common Pleas Court issued a bench warrant for the Baker’s arrest for failing to comply with the conditions of probation on a theft from a motor vehicle case. A second bench warrant was issued on May 25 for Baker after he failed to appear for a domestic relations hearing scheduled that morning, according to the D.A.’s office.

Baker was advised that warrants for his arrest were issued by the court and he would need to surrender, but he reportedly declined to do so despite making promises to turn himself in, the D.A.’s office said. Instead, he fled from the residence he shared with his fiancée to evade capture by law enforcement agencies, the D.A.’s office added. During this time, the story was publicized by various news media outlets and on social media.

“The defendant’s status was prominently featured on television, radio, newspaper, and social media,” the D.A.’s office stated in a news release. “The defendant still refused to turn himself in.”

During that time, members of the United States Marshals’ Fugitive Task Force, the Chester County Sheriff’s Fugitive Apprehension Unit, and various Chester County law enforcement agencies searched for Baker. Law enforcement contacted several family members and associates to track his movements as they attempted to locate him across multiple states. The D.A.’s office noted that there were rumors that he had fled as far as Florida.

The D.A.’s office announced the following:

Baker instructed his fiancée on June 4 to purchase a hotel room for him in cash using an assumed name. His fiancée reportedly complied by renting a room at the Clarion Hotel in Exton under a friend’s name, and then hid a room key at a prearranged location so that Baker would be able to access the room. She also purchased a prepaid cellular telephone for their use.

Baker was apprehended by United States Marshals the following day. The found him reportedly hiding in the bathroom of the rented hotel room. His iPhone was found inside the room in “airplane mode,” a feature which disables cellular and Wi-Fi connections to the device and police said is a common tactic to attempt to avoid being tracked. His fiancée confirmed that the Baker knew he was wanted and had been following the publicity regarding his flight from law enforcement.

Baker’s cellular phone was examined by the Chester County Detectives’ Computer Forensics Unit. Investigators found internet search history records for the time period the defendant was fleeing which indicated the lengths he was willing to go to avoid detection. For instance, investigators found searches for “how do cops ping a cell phone” and “how to change my personal name,” as well as searches for Greyhound bus services, Amtrak train schedules and various locations in the United States, Mexico, and Canada. Baker’s text messages included stating that he was not going to prison and that he was on the “top ten most wanted” list.

He has been charged with flight to avoid apprehension and will be arraigned on the new complaint in the near future.

This case was investigated by the Chester County Detectives. The assigned prosecutor is Assistant District Attorney Cindy Morgan. Police ask that anybody with information to contact Chester County Detective Keith Cowdright at 610-344-6866.