San Clemente Man Found Dead; Guest Sought

Times Staff Writer

William Harding Baker, 65, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel, was found dead Wednesday in a pool of blood in his San Clemente home, authorities said.

Police have issued an all-points bulletin for a 6-foot male Caucasian named Blair, who had been staying at the victim’s home, according to San Clemente Police Lt. Al Ehlow.

Officers were alerted by John Armand Forest, 19, who had been renting a room in Baker’s home. Forest called police after discovering his landlord’s body in bed at about 2 a.m. Wednesday, Ehlow said.

The renter told officers that he was wakened by a muffled yell and then reawakened soon after by a slamming door and the sound of running feet, Ehlow added.


Seen at House

Forest told police that Baker had picked up the man hitch-hiking several days ago and that the suspect had been doing yardwork for Baker. An unidentified neighbor confirmed that the suspect was seen at Baker’s house the previous day, Ehlow said.

Immediately after Forest’s call, local police and sheriff’s deputies searched the area near the victim’s house with police dogs and helicopters.

They called off the search at 8:30 a.m. and issued a bulletin for the suspect, believed to be in his early 20s. He was last seen wearing a green army fatigue shirt, gray pants and red tennis shoes with white stripes, Ehlow said.


Tooth Missing

The suspect also has a missing front tooth, a hoop-style earing in his left ear and tattoos on his hands, the officer said.

Police sealed off Baker’s house Wednesday. The victim was discovered in his bedroom with blood covering his face, blankets and covers, officers said. They said they have not determined the exact cause of death.

Ehlow described Baker as a neighborhood “gadfly” who once got involved in a campaign to save several ducks that lived around a pond on the Shorecliff golf course near his house.


Baker, who has lived in the neighborhood for about 10 years, generally kept to himself and was not known to be active in community affairs, Ehlow added.