Decatur, GA (May 13, 2024) – GBI Director Chris Hosey was joined by Athens-Clarke County Police Department Chief Jerry Saulters, FBI-Atlanta SAC Keri Farley, Western Judicial Circuit DA Deborah Gonzalez, State Representative Houston Gaines, and the Baker Family at GBI Headquarters to provide updates in Tara Baker’s murder investigation. 

In September of 2023, Special Agents of the GBI Cold Case Unit partnered with Athens-Clarke County investigators to conduct a tireless in-depth review of the ongoing investigation into Tara’s death. In Tara’s case, it was biological evidence and DNA science combined with collaborative investigative work with our law enforcement partners that brought us this result.  

“January 19, 2001, was a day that devastated a family, the UGA campus, and the community of Athens/Clarke County, with effects felt throughout the state,” said GBI Director Chris Hosey. “For over two decades, investigators have worked tirelessly to find answers for the family and friends of Tara Louise Baker and bring some amount of closure and healing to this horrific incident. With an arrest in this investigation last week, it is my prayer this process has begun. The recent events in the Tara Baker investigation also sends a strong message that justice has no expiration and law enforcement in Georgia will never stop seeking answers to these tragic events. 

Members of Tara’s family also shared remarks, “Last year we watched the Governor sign the Coleman-Baker Act. This bill was not for us, it was for Tara’s legacy. Tara was a friend, classmate, sister, and beloved daughter. We are grateful for this day. To all the families still out there waiting, do not give up, there is hope for answers.”  

Watch the full news conference here: https://youtube.com/live/3IBPRLC11FA?feature=share  

 The GBI Cold Case Unit, under the GBI’s Office of Special Investigations, was created in July 2023. The unit is comprised of special agents who were hand-selected based on their experience and demonstrated proficiency and success in conducting complex death investigations. Agents are assigned in various geographic locations throughout the state to conduct in-depth reviews and analyses of criminal case files, that meet the criteria for review. Additionally, an examination of physical evidence is conducted to determine if appropriate forensic testing and analysis was performed or if additional testing would produce information relevant to the investigation. 

The Cold Case Unit continues to investigate, generate and follow leads, and submit items of evidence for forensic analysis in unsolved homicides originally investigated by the GBI. As in all criminal cases investigated by the GBI, the Cold Case Unit diligently investigates unsolved homicides knowing that however insignificant the information may seem at the time, one piece of information or an advancement in technology could result in the resolution of any crime including decades-old unsolved murders. 


Athens-Clarke County, GA (May 9, 2024) - The Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI), along with the Athens-Clarke County Police Department (ACCPD), announces the arrest of an Athens man in the murder investigation of Tara Louise Baker. After 23 years, GBI agents have charged Edrick Lamont Faust, age 48, with murder, two counts of felony murder, one count of aggravated assault, concealing the death of another, arson, possession of a knife during the commission of a felony, tampering with evidence, and one count of aggravated sodomy in connection with Baker’s death. 

In September of 2023, the GBI Cold Case Unit partnered with ACCPD to conduct an in-depth review and analysis of the ongoing investigation into Baker’s death. 

On January 19, 2001, around 11:20 a.m., Athens-Clarke County firefighters found Tara Louise Baker’s body responding to a fire at her Athens apartment. The investigation determined that the fire was intentionally set, and investigators spent over two decades seeking answers in the case.   

At the time, Tara was 23 and a first-year law school student at the University of Georgia. She graduated from Lovejoy High School in 1995 and enrolled at Georgia College in Milledgeville.  

"Tara Louise Baker was a hardworking student with a bright future ahead of her," says GBI Director Chris Hosey. “Tara's life was stolen from her in a horrific act of violence. While this arrest does not bring her back to us, I pray that it helps bring closure to the Baker family as they continue their healing journey. I am proud of the work of the GBI Cold Case Unit and the GBI agents and scientists that devoted their efforts over the last 23 years to find justice for Tara. I also want to express my gratitude to Athens Clarke-County investigators and members of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Georgia State Patrol who have partnered with us in this case. While this arrest is the first step in finding justice for Tara, there is still more work to be done. The GBI and our partners will never stop fighting for justice for victims and their families." 

“For many years, I have hoped the Baker family would find justice for the loss of Tara,” says Jerry Saulters, now Chief of the Athens-Clarke County Police Department, who was an officer at the crime scene on January 19th, 2001. “This is a case that has lived with me throughout my career at ACCPD. I remember being there during that horrific time. Seeing this case now full circle, I appreciate the hard work of the detectives, from then and now. Knowing that the evidence collected at that time contributed to the arrest today gives me tremendous pride in all the officers who worked this case over the years.”   

The following agencies & work units assisted the GBI Cold Case Unit and ACCPD: 

  • FBI Gainesville RA 

  • FBI Athens RA 

  • FBI Athens Safe Streets Task Force 

  • GBI Appalachian Regional Drug Enforcement Office (ARDEO)  

  • GBI – Division of Forensic Sciences 

  • Georgia State Patrol 

Faust was booked into the Athens-Clarke County Jail.

Anyone with information about this investigation is encouraged to submit a tip. Anonymous tips can be submitted by calling 1-800-597-TIPS (8477), online at https://gbi.georgia.gov/submit-tips-online, or by downloading the See Something, Send Something mobile app. 



Special Agent in Charge Brian Whidby