Police & Courts

Death of Marion County Jail inmate considered suicide

Special to The Herald-Whig
Posted: Jul. 19, 2019 8:40 pm

PALMYRA, Mo. -- An autopsy was conducted Friday in Columbia to determine the exact cause of death Thursday morning of an inmate in the Marion County Jail in Palmyra.

Marion County Sheriff Jimmy Shinn said the inmate, 53-year-old Larry K. Baker Jr., apparently took his own life.

"There's no doubt about that; it was a suicide," he said, adding that preliminary findings from the autopsy could be known soon.

Despite the fact the jail contains close to 30 video cameras, there are areas in a cell where an inmate can get out of sight.

"There are no cameras in the toilet area for privacy purposes, and that is where he was able to get out of view," Shinn said, adding that Baker was in one of the jail's single-male cells.

Baker was found unresponsive in his cell at 7:10 a.m. Thursday. Members of the jail staff began administering life-saving measures. A Marion County ambulance responded and assisted.

The county coroner was called and pronounced Baker dead at 7:26 a.m.

Baker had been held in the jail since Feb. 22 as a pre-trial detainee on charges of kidnapping and terrorizing both in the first-degree. Those charges stem from a Feb. 21 incident.

"The individual was a truck driver who kidnapped his girlfriend and held her by force in his semi truck," Shinn said. "We ended up stopping him in the old Sutherland's parking lot (in Hannibal) in February."

Shinn said a warrant for Baker out of Mississippi arrived at the jail late Tuesday afternoon. The warrant charged him with kidnapping, felonious restraint and assault.

"We believe that is what put him over the edge," Shinn said. "We had no knowledge or warning that this (suicide) was coming."

Shinn said jail personnel and Mark Twain Mental Health staff members attempt to help people who are known to be "having issues."

"With that being said, the individuals that don't communicate with us and let us know they are having issues and their state of mind. ... It is very difficult to catch these individuals that already have their mind made up as to what they are going to do," Shinn said.

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