Tenants at Oakdale Village Apartments got the chance Thursday night to hear from police and building management about the murder of a fellow tenant, who was found dead in her bedroom Wednesday, Dec. 28.
Police have arrested Thomas J. Fox, 44, in connection with the murder of 39-year-old Lori Christine Baker, a longtime nanny who was discovered by her employer after she didn’t show up for work.
When an Oakdale Village resident asked police why Fox—who was arrested last Thursday—hasn’t been charged yet in connection with the murder, Oakdale Community Affairs Officer Michelle Stark said police are taking advantage of the extra time they have to investigate since Fox is being held on unrelated charges for absconding from a work release program.
He is being held at the Ramsey County Detention Center, Stark said.
“We have time at this point, that we can conduct a very thorough investigation and it could be weeks, months for DNA—there is no timeline for information coming back,” Stark said. “We had the advantage that he was a fugitive.”
Oakdale Patrol Sgt. Nick Newton further explained that testing forensic evidence in real life is “not like you see on TV.”
“We don’t have a lab staffed 24 hours with people doing all these tests,” he said. The evidence all goes to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension for testing, he said.
Apartment Complex Safeguards
Police still won’t say how Baker and Fox knew each other, however, it appears that she trusted him enough to give him access to her apartment, said Oakdale Village Community Manager Sarah Kohler.
“It wasn’t someone who broke into her apartment,” Kohler said. “It was someone she invited into her life.”
Oakdale Village requires all residents to undergo a criminal background check, and about half of those who apply to live in the complex are denied, Kohler said. She reminded residents that if someone moves in with them, they must undergo a background check, too.
“If someone is going to live with you … what a great service we can offer,” Kohler said. “We’ll do a background check for you—a very careful background check.”
Kohler and residents at the meeting emphasized the importance of neighbors knowing one another to make the community safer.
Resident Kelly McDonald, said she makes a point of knowing her neighbors.
“I go out of my way to look them in the eye and say hello,” she said. “I think the best thing we can do right now is come together as a community.”
Kohler and Stark encouraged residents to call the police whenever they hear or see something suspicious.
“This is very common in multihousing complexes, in group areas, malls where there are a lot of people—they expect someone else to call,” Stark said. “If it’s your property, your car, your children or you, you would want someone to call.”
A representative from Tubman also spoke on the importance of saying something if a person suspects abuse.
A Quiet, Shy Longtime Resident
Lori Baker had lived at Oakale Village since 2005, Kohler said.
“She was very quiet. She was very shy,” Kohler said. “She loved to scrapbook. She loved to read.”
Baker’s family is donating her book collection to the complex so that, “people here can hopefully enjoy things that she enjoyed,” Kohler said.
Baker worked as a nanny, and her collection included lots of children’s books, Kohler said.
“It wasn’t just her job, it was her calling,” Kohler said. “It meant a lot to her.”
Baker had been working as a nanny for the same family for nine years, and it was her employer who found her dead, she said.
“It’s devastating to lose such a kind, gentle person to such terrible violence,” Kohler said. “It’s been very hard on all of us.”