Arrest made in 1996 murder of Texas City girl
TEXAS CITY, TX (KTRK) -- A Texas City family says it's a miracle. Fourteen years after young Krystal Baker was murdered, there's finally been an arrest. There's still a lot we don't know about her accused killer, but what we do know is that DNA led to his arrest.The last time anyone saw Krystal Baker, she was leaving her grandmother's house right in a Texas City neighborhood. That was more than 14 years ago. While the trail to find her killer eventually grew cold, all these years later came the news her family never thought they would hear.
"She was an angel," said Krystal's mom, Jeanie Baker. "She was beautiful on the outside and on the inside."
Fourteen and a half years ago, Krystal was abducted and murdered. The 13-year-old's body was discovered under a bridge in Chambers County. It's the kind of pain that as a mother Jeanie Baker never got over.
She said, "I wish I could wake up out of this nightmare and hold my little girl in my arms."
Adding to her grief was the fact that her daughter's killer was never brought to justice. On the run all these years -- until now. DNA evidence led authorities to arrest 45-year-old Kevin Edison Smith of Louisiana. He was taken into custody at a job site in Chambers County where he'd been working as a welder.
Capt. Brian Goetschius with the Texas City Police Department said, "He appeared calm and he appeared like he didn't have any idea we were coming to arrest him."
Smith's DNA was collected during a recent arrest in Louisiana and tested against Krystal's unmatched sample from the crime scene which had been sent to a national database.
Jeanie said, "I'm really thankful right now because God has really blessed us by finding this man. This is a miracle."
But it's only the beginning. Police want to know where Smith has been and who he's talked to since 1996.
For the Bakers, his arrest offers them the closure they have waited so long for.
"He's been lucky all this time," Jeanie said. "It's a miracle that he got caught, and he needs to pay for what he's done."
Smith is being held in Chambers County. He's been charged with murder. His bond has been set at $1 million. The sheriff's office there isn't releasing his mug shot or any information about the case because authorities believe it might jeopardize the investigation.
texas city, local, andy cerota
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