Thursday, October 28, 2010

My Email-Interview with Erin Moriarty

Last week, Lisa Freed, producer with 48 Hours, and I were communicating via email. She mentioned that if I would like to email interview Erin Moriarty, send her some questions and Erin would be happy to answer them for my blog. Well, of course, I took them up on it. I must say that Erin, Producer Lisa Freed and their ENTIRE crew are the epitome of complete professionalism AND complete human-ness. These people care. They really do. And they fight hard to find the truth. Their dedication to this case still astounds me.

I sent my questions in this morning and got my answers tonight. Thanks, Erin and Lisa. For everything.

Shannon: I understand you interviewed Matt before interviewing anyone else for your original story. If I understand correctly, while you found Matt a little creepy, you thought his story could be plausible. At what point did you begin to have doubts about Matt Baker’s story? At what point did your gut tell you, “This guy murdered his wife”?

EM: We started work on this case in the fall of 2007 with an interview with Matt Baker and several discussions about the evidence with Baker’s attorney Guy James Gray. At that point, both my producer, Lisa Freed, and I thought that there was a possibility that Baker was wrongfully accused of killing his wife. The willingness of a defendant to put his case at risk by talking on camera prior to trial gives him credibility. The more Baker talked, we discovered problems with his version of events and inconsistencies in his stories: was Kari awake when he left her that night or was she asleep? He seemed to change his story from interview to interview. Was he having an affair at the time of Kari’s death? He denied it, but the more we spoke to friends of Kari’s and as more and more evidence developed, it began to look like Baker was being less than honest about his personal life. Baker insisted his wife was depressed prior to his death. While it is true that a doctor prescribed her an anti-depressant, we could not find anyone other than Baker and his mother who said that Kari was depressed. On the contrary, close friends described her excitement about prospects of a new job. Most damaging were the reports that Kari had told a friend and psychologist her fears about her husband’s infidelity. The evidence we were encountering didn’t match the story we were hearing from Baker and his attorney. And Baker was unable to adequately explain the inconsistencies in a follow-up interview.

As a reporter, I can not decide on the guilt or innocence of a defendant. I leave that to the jury. However, by the time we aired our first report on the case, in the spring of 2008, I certainly felt that there was enough evidence to warrant a trial.

Shannon: What were the thoughts running through your mind when you heard Vanessa Bulls testifying at the trial? Was there anything she said that totally caught you by surprise?

EM: I have covered dozens of murder trials over the last twenty years, but I have never witnessed testimony as disturbing and unsettling as I heard Vanessa Bulls give at Matt Baker’s trial. The chilling details she says Matt gave about Kari’s death. The fact that this young woman says she knew about plans to kill Kari and never told anyone. The planning she says that went into the heartless act of murder. And if Vanessa is telling the truth, the incredible cruelty Baker showed his wife when he murdered her. I have never heard anything like that and hope I never do again.

Shannon: What part of Kari's story shocked you most as a seasoned reporter?

EM: There were a number of things about Kari’s story and death that disturbed me as a reporter. I was “shocked” by how easily investigators apparently accepted Matt Baker’s version of events despite questionable evidence at the scene. The failure to collect that evidence, compounded by the decision of the Justice of the Peace to determine the cause of death over the phone instead of coming to the scene, made this case ultimately more difficult to prosecute than it should have been.

I was “shocked” by the number of times over the years when various church officials encountered questionable and disturbing behavior on the part of Matt Baker, but did nothing.

But more than shocked by events in this case, I am saddened. Over the last three years, through Kari’s family and friends, I have gotten to know a woman I never met. Her death is a terrible tragedy.

Shannon: Who do you wish you could interview one last time about the case?

EM: I have one regret about our coverage of this case: that I never got to speak personally to Vanessa Bulls and hear her story for myself.

Shannon: In your opinion, what key mistakes were made from the night of Kari’s murder until the time Matt was finally indicted and then convicted four years later? What actions could have been taken to bring to light the facts of this case sooner?

EM: Numerous serious mistakes and mis-steps occurred on the night of Kari’s death. Investigators didn’t collect enough evidence, nor did they take enough photographs of the scene. Investigators didn’t insist on an interview immediately with Matt Baker. The Justice of the Peace didn’t order an autopsy immediately.

Shannon: You have investigated and covered case after case after case like this. What is your advice to family and friends "crying out for justice" for a loved one?

EM: Kari Baker’s story should serve as a lesson to crime scene investigators and family members of people who die under questionable circumstances. Don’t make assumptions. If you believe someone was murdered, don’t give up trying to find the answers. The Dulin’s decision to sue Matt Baker civilly resulted in evidence that the prosecution could use at trial. The prosecutors and investigators kept after Vanessa Bulls despite her continual denials. The lesson of Kari Baker’s story? Don’t give up fighting for your loved ones.

Back to my thoughts tonight:

To those of you that have emailed me through the blog about fighting for your loved ones...........FIGHT! Investigate! Be the opposite of quiet!

After all....

"The dead cannot cry out for justice; it is a duty of the living to do so for them." ~LM Bujold


News said...

Wow - Erin thank you so much for visiting Shannon's site and sharing this with us! I have been reading here for a few years and following the case even longer. Kari was my but by the Grace of God, there too go I. If I had remained in my situation I feel I could have met the same fate as Kari so following her family's struggle for justice has been near to my heart. I hope when Kari's girls are home with Mr. and Mrs. Dulin you (48 hours) will update us with that news and maybe one day you will get to talk to the girls when they are ALL grown up! I will pray for them to heal and recover from all they have lost.
Thanks again!

Sadie said...


I think it was gracious of Erin Moriarty to do this, and it furthers my impression of her as one class act. Erin has shown she is all about awesome insight, balanced compassion, and dedicated reporting.

And you too, Miss Shannon. Class act, all the way. Congratulations on this terrific interview. You did a great job on the questions.

I can't tell you how impressed I am by all of this. Kari's story is a tragedy. She did not deserve what happened to her. But out of the sorrow comes joy; the passion and dedication shown by everyone involved is a testament to Kari's lovely spirit. Over and over again it is proven that Love. Trumps. Evil.

And, as News points out, others who hear of Kari's story may find in it a cautionary tale; their own lives may be spared or saved because of Kari's family's refusal to give up on uncovering the TRUTH. There are evil wolves out there; may their victims see through their sheep's clothing before it is too late.

And I also agree with the thoughts about Kari's girls. May they come home soon to the arms of love where they belong. Amen.

Praying for Daughters said...

"Don't give up fighting for your loved ones."

Hear that, Jim and Linda Dulin?

Tivy said...

Your show was really good Erin. It helped me get some answers to some of the questions my friends and I had. I get why the girlfriend got out of being charged but it doesn't seem fair.

Cookie said...

Wow this is neat that you got an exclusive interview. I got the link from WS. I wish Erin had interviewed Vanessa too. Wonder what she is doing now. I hope feeling horrible for what she let happen.
Erin your answers are fascinating but I wonder how you can stand to stay so professional in the presence of a killer. I hope you have a security team or huge cameramen!