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Georgia man charged with murdering law student, setting fire to apartment in 23-year-old cold case denied bond

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A 48-year-old Georgia man charged with murdering 23-year-old first-year law student Tara Louise Baker and setting fire to her apartment 23 years ago has been denied bond in Athens. 

Edrick Lamont Faust has been charged with murder, two counts of felony murder, one count of aggravated assault, concealing the death of another, arson, possession of a knife during the commission of a felony, tampering with evidence, and one count of aggravated sodomy, according to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI). 

He was booked into the Athens-Clarke County Jail.

Baker was found dead in her apartment on Jan. 19, 2001, after first responders were called there because of a fire that was discovered to be arson. 

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In September, the GBI’s cold case unit partnered with Athens-Clarke County police to “conduct an in-depth review and analysis of the ongoing investigation into Baker’s death.”

Faust was arrested on Thursday. 

“Tara Louise Baker was a hardworking student with a bright future ahead of her,” GBI Director Chris Hosey said in a statement. “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.”

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Baker, who would have celebrated her 24th birthday the day after she was found, graduated Cum Laude from Georgia College in Milledgeville in 1998 with two bachelor’s degrees, according to FOX 5. 

Edrick Faust booking photo

She was last seen alive by friends at the University of Georgia Law School Library on the evening of Jan. 18, and she later called a friend to make sure they had gotten home safely, the station reported. 

“For many years, I have hoped the Baker family would find justice for the loss of Tara,” Jerry Saulters, now Chief of the Athens-Clarke County Police Department, said in a statement. “This is a case that has lived with me throughout my career at ACCPD. I remember being there during that horrific time. Seeing this case now full circle, I appreciate the hard work of the detectives, from then and now. Knowing that the evidence collected at that time contributed to the arrest today gives me tremendous pride in all the officers who worked this case over the years.”  

Faust in court

Saulters had been an officer at the scene in 2001. 

Governor Brian Kemp praised the work of investigators in charging a suspect in the case this week. 

“Last year, I signed the Coleman-Baker Act so that we can bring closure and justice, far too long deferred, to families like this,” he wrote on X on Thursday after Faust’s arrest. “May Tara’s memory live on through the good work of this Unit.”

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