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Published: Saturday, 10/1/2011 - Updated: 3 years ago

family grieves toledo shooting victims

Grisly scene greeted slain man's brother

Boy, 2, found clinging to mother's body

BY TAYLOR DUNGJEN
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Gisel Baker says her son Andrew and his girlfriend were devoted parents to their 2-year-old son. The child was found in the home with his parents' bodies. Gisel Baker says her son Andrew and his girlfriend were devoted parents to their 2-year-old son. The child was found in the home with his parents' bodies.
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The scene inside the central-city home was devastating.

Milton Baker scooped up his 2-year-old nephew and ran out of the small brick house on Sanford Street.

His younger brother Andrew Baker, 28, was inside on the living room floor in a pool of blood. Baker's long-time girlfriend, Tanja Cathey, 28, was dead in an upstairs bedroom. That's where Milton Baker found the boy, naked, clinging to his mother's body.

"Somebody wanted them dead," Milton Baker, 29, said.

Andrew Baker suffered one gunshot wound to the back of the neck. Ms. Cathey suffered two -- one to the right side of her head, the other to her neck, said Dr. Maneesha Pandey, a Lucas County deputy coroner. They were pronounced dead at 6:48 p.m. Thursday.

A neighbor, Dorothy White, said she heard three gunshots about 6 a.m. Thursday but didn't call police.

The porch where Baker would normally sit socializing was quiet and empty. Looking back, it was too quiet, Ms. White said.

Thursday evening Milton Baker received a phone call; the voice on the other end said gunshots had been heard earlier that morning and suggested he check on the couple.

Gisel Baker talks about her son Andrew Baker who was found murdered in his home on Thursday night in central Toledo,OH. Andrew Baker and Tanja Cathey were found murdered in their home in the 2200 block of Sanford Street in central Toledo on Thursday night. Gisel Baker talks about her son Andrew Baker who was found murdered in his home on Thursday night in central Toledo,OH. Andrew Baker and Tanja Cathey were found murdered in their home in the 2200 block of Sanford Street in central Toledo on Thursday night.
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Milton Baker pounded on the back door, and, when nobody answered, he kicked in a window.

"It was something you don't ever want to experience," he said. "I saw my brother the way nobody wants to remember someone they love. … I never thought he'd die like this. Her too. She was a sweetheart."

Milton Baker put his nephew on the back porch and ran to the front door, which was unlocked. Whoever killed the couple didn't force their way in.

Toledo police Sgt. Tim Noble said neighbors reported hearing a number of gunshots. Then silence. Then more gunshots.

Sergeant Noble said the crime doesn't appear to have been random.

Andrew Baker and Ms. Cathey met in junior high -- at Robinson -- and were best friends for years before dating, said Baker's mother, Gisel Baker.

"You couldn't separate them," Mrs. Baker said. They would stay up all night playing games -- Monopoly and Trouble were family favorites.

"I had to cheat," Mrs. Baker said with a faint laugh. "They were too good."

The couple, for the most part, had a happy life together.

Once Baker was accused of assaulting Ms. Cathey, but the charges, filed in Toledo Municipal Court, were dropped.

"Every couple has challenges," Mrs. Baker said. "But their happiness outweighed the challenges."

The deaths, the family says, were senseless.

"I don't know why they killed them," Mrs. Baker said, as she started to cry, holding a photo of the couple.

"They killed parents of a baby and left that baby to watch and left him to wallow in their blood," Mrs. Baker said. "Before his life is even taking off, they took it from him. I'm sick of these people killing babies, killing each other. When are they gonna stop killing people's kids? How can they go home and look at their own kids? This world has gone to hell."

Twenty-two homicides have been recorded so far in 2011 in the metro area; 17 of them occurred in Toledo.

Ms. Cathey's family could not be reached for comment.

The couple had a promising future, Andrew Baker's family said.

Ms. Cathey started the pre-nursing program at Owens Community College last fall and was working as a bartender.

"She was trying. She was going to make it too," Milton Baker said. "That's all he bragged about."

Baker was working toward his GED, Milton Baker said.

They were devoted parents -- one of them was always with the baby, Mrs. Baker said.

Baker loved to cook and clean -- once he and his toddler son even had a disagreement over who was going to sweep the floor.

"Tanja went out to buy the baby a broom," Mrs. Baker said.

Sitting on the steps of his brother's home, where Milton Baker discovered the brutal scene, he surveyed the neighborhood, rife with boarded-up homes.

"It never gets better," he said. "You never get over something like this."

Contact Taylor Dungjen at: tdungjen@theblade.com or 419-724-6054.



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