New Details Emerge in Tausha Baker Homicide Investigation

| October 31, 2017

FRANKLIN, Pa. (EYT) – New details have emerged in the death of a Venango County woman who was violently beaten and then set on fire.

On Monday, police located a vehicle connected to the investigation into the death of 25-year-old Tausha Lee Baker of Franklin.

State Police in Franklin were assisting the City of Franklin Police in attempting to locate a Ford Edge, Maroon/Red, PA Registration KHX9391.

According to Franklin Police, the vehicle was located on Monday at 5:45 a.m. and will be processed for evidentiary purposes.

Police believe the vehicle was driven by one of the suspects in Baker’s death – 32-year-old Amanda L. Cypher of Franklin.

Cypher and 28-year-old Richard A. Kennedy, of Vandergrift, are facing charges of Criminal Homicide, Aggravated Assault, Abuse of a Corpse, and Tampering with or Fabricating Physical Evidence.

According to a criminal complaint filed by Franklin Police Detective Kevin J. Saragian and Franklin-based State Police Trooper Eric A. Rogers, the investigation was initiated after police were dispatched to 1313 New Street in Franklin around 4:01 p.m. on Friday.

Police were dispatched after a resident of the home, Mark Daniels, reported he awoke to blood in his house and discovered that Baker was missing.

Daniels told police that he heard a “screaming noise” around 6:30 a.m.

The criminal complaint states that Daniels eventually went downstairs and discovered clothes in the washing machine soaking in “reddish tinted” water.

When police arrived at the scene, they found “blood marks” on the living room walls and in the kitchen area.

An article of clothing covered in “red fluid” was located in the same area and “red stains” were found on a wall in the laundry room, according to the criminal complaint.

Daniels also told police that Baker called him that night and said she was going to meet Cypher and Kennedy at the residence.

Another resident of the home, William Umstead, told police Cypher and Kennedy were at the residence when he went to bed on Thursday evening.

Umstead said he woke up on Friday morning and heard a conversation between a man and a woman.

Umstead told police he went downstairs to investigate when he was stopped by Kennedy who allegedly told him to return to his room “because this is not pretty.”

According to the criminal complaint, Umstead went back to his room until he observed Cypher leave the residence in a maroon SUV.

At this point, Umstead went downstairs and discovered multiple areas of “red fluid.”

Umstead also told police that Kennedy was wearing a dark-colored hoody. A similar hoody was found on the floor of the residence saturated in what appeared to be a “red fluid.”

Police did not indicate the nature of the relationship between Baker and the residents of the home.

According to the criminal complaint, a woman named Penny McCoy told police that Cypher and Kennedy came to her residence on Friday afternoon.

McCoy told police that the pair entered the residence and washed their hands and then took off multiple articles of clothing.

The woman provided Cypher and Kennedy with clothes and slippers, according to the criminal complaint.

After they left McCoy’s residence, she noticed a ceiling tile in her bedroom was out of place.

Investigators checked the area near the tile and found a pair of shoes hidden in the ceiling.

Around 5:08 p.m. on Friday, October 27, the Polk Borough Fire Department was dispatched to a brush fire on Waterworks Road.

Upon extinguishing the fire, a body was found.

The victim was identified as Baker (pictured below).

Police believe Baker’s body was disposed of on Waterworks Road and set on fire in an attempt to hide the crime.

The criminal complaint states that multiple witnesses observed a black male and a white female standing by a maroon SUV in the same area shortly before the fire was set.

An autopsy was conducted Monday in Erie.

Several calls to Venango County Coroner Christina Rugh were not returned; however, a report issued to other media outlets by Rugh indicates Baker died of multiple types of trauma.

The report also said that Baker was already dead when her body was set on fire.

Baker’s mother, Evelyn Davison, told Erie News Now that she believes the incident was drug-related.

Cypher and Kennedy were arraigned on Saturday at 7:30 a.m. at Magisterial District Judge Andrew F. Fish’s office.

The pair faces preliminary hearings on Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. before Judge Fish.

They remain lodged in the Venango County Jail.

Bail was denied.


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