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Arrest made in 2001 cold case murder of University of Georgia law student Tara Baker

5/10: CBS Morning News
5/10: CBS Morning News 20:33

More than two decades after University of Georgia student Tara Baker was murdered, authorities announced they arrested a suspect. 

Edrick Lamont Faust, 48, was charged with murder and faces various other charges in connection with the 23-year-old first-year law student's death, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation announced. 

"Tara Louise Baker was a hardworking student with a bright future ahead of her," GBI Director Chris Hosey said Thursday in a news release. "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."

Athens-Clarke County firefighters found Baker's body in her apartment in January 2001. Authorities thought the fire was suspicious and was set to cover up Baker's murder. Investigators spent the next 23 years working to prove these suspicions in collaboration with the FBI, Athens-Clarke County Police Department and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, to crack the cold case.

But it was only after the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Cold Case Unit reviewed Baker's case in September 2023 — after the Coleman-Baker Act was signed into law — that authorities were able to bring together enough evidence to make the arrest. GBI said a news conference would be held to provide further details on the investigation. 

The Coleman-Baker Act — named after University of Georgia student Sue Coleman, killed 21 years ago, and Tara Baker — was signed into law by Gov. Brian Kemp in 2023.  The legislation established a new unit within the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to investigate cold cases. It also required law enforcement to look into unsolved cases if more than six years had passed. 

"May Tara's memory live on through the good work of this Unit," Kemp posted on social media after the announcement of the arrest. 

Her family thanked law enforcement in a statement, reported WGAU, and said, "While this is a day we have long prayed for, it is not a day without grief and unanswered questions."

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