Local man’s body recovered by search party on Christmas Eve
“I really believe if we hadn’t found him when we did we never would have found him. I can’t even believe how thick the trees and overgrowth was back there.
– Childhood friend
By Annette Newcomb
The last few days of Roger Baker’s life are a bit of a mystery and will likely remain that way.
On Dec. 21, during a routine patrol at 12:30 a.m. Kenosha County Sheriff’s Deputies found Baker’s blue Dodge Intrepid parked at Silver Lake Park area six, near the beach.
Deputies called out Baker’s name but received no response. As is policy, the car was locked in the park. A second patrol at 11:30 a.m. the next day found the car still sitting in the same spot with no sign of any activity in or around the car.
Baker, 33, lived in Genoa City with some roommates. His mother lives in Michigan and his father is deceased. There is some family in the area and they told Genoa City Police they had seen Baker on Dec. 19, when he left for work and but were growing concerned about his welfare.
Deputies returned to the Silver Lake Park and checked some trails to no avail. In the meantime one of Baker’s roommates asked his Facebook friends, “Have you seen Roger?” It seemed as though no one knew where he was.
Childhood friend Allen Dunski heard that his old school buddy had gone missing on Friday afternoon. He immediately organized a search party.
“Saturday morning 40 people showed up at Silver Lake Park,” Dunski said. “I couldn’t believe it.” Also in the search party were Kenosha County Sheriff’s Detectives.
Dunski said he went to Riverview Grade School and later Wilmot High School with Baker.
“You know, we went to school together and in the summer played ball together. After high school we sort of drifted apart…we all got busy with jobs and stuff. I would see Roger about three times a year and we always stopped and got caught up.”
Dunski said he was aware Baker recently received what he thought was his sixth DUI citation.
“I know he was embarrassed and I know he was looking at some time in jail. After he got the ticket a lot of people thought he just left town for the holidays, maybe to see his mom in Michigan. He always told people he would run if he got into trouble again,” Dunski said.
Dunski said the morning search held on Christmas Eve lasted only 30 minutes.
“It was just dumb luck we found him.” Dunski said the park had been laid out in grids and one of the searchers had gotten turned around and was following a small stream back to the group when he came upon Baker’s body.
“He had hung himself. I don’t want to go into details, it doesn’t matter. He chose to end his life and went through with it,” Dunksi said.
The area where Baker’s body was found was so thick it took two hours to chop a path to get an ATV through back to transport Baker.
“I really believe if we hadn’t found him when we did we never would have found him. I can’t even believe how thick the trees and overgrowth is back there,” Dunski said.
According to the sheriff’s department Andrew Nickel found Baker about 10:19 a.m. The medical examiner said no foul play is suspected. Dunski, who served as an EMT for eight years, agrees that “there can be no doubt” about what happened, based on what he saw.
Dunski said he believes Baker would have been embarrassed after word got out that he had received his sixth DUI. “It’s a small town, everyone knows things. He was looking at a lot of time and didn’t want to go back to jail…he had already done 18 months…but the thing is, no one would have judged him. He would have gone to jail and paid his debt for what he did and come out and started over. No one should look down on you for that.
“He was a really quiet person until he was with a group of his friends, then he was very fun loving. He is a Godfather to one little girl and it’s a heartbreaker to see him with her in the photo on Facebook.
“At least we got him home for Christmas,” Dunski said.
Funeral services for Baker will begin at 11 a.m. today, Dec. 30, at the Haase-Lockwood and Associates Funeral Homes and Crematory 620 Legion Drive, Twin Lakes. Inurnment will be held at a later date. Memorials are being accepted for the baker family.