WARRENTON, Va. — Virginia authorities charged a West Virginia prisoner on Tuesday with a slaying that had gone unsolved for more than three decades.
Court records show that Ronald Cloud, now 64, was charged with murder in the 1980 shooting of 30-year-old Brad Baker in Fauquier County on New Year’s Eve.
The Fauquier Times-Democrat reported that Cloud’s stepfather had been fired by Baker on the day of the shooting. The newspaper reported that the job loss meant that Cloud’s stepfather and mother would have to be evicted from their home.
Baker was the manager of Kinloch Farm, an estate owned by relatives of Stephen Currier of the famed Currier and Ives prints and banker and philanthropist Andrew Mellon. He had been in the job for 10 days.
He was found with shots to his head and groin, with the front door window panes smashed out of the two-story farmhouse where he lived.
Fauquier County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Lt. James Hartman told the newspaper that investigators initially suspected that Cloud’s stepfather may have been involved in the shooting, but that he had a solid alibi.
The shot to the groin then led investigators to speculate that the shooting may have been connected to a jilted lover. A 1983 edition of Washingtonian Magazine that focused on the murder suggested a failed relationship between Baker and Andrea Currier, the Mellon heiress and owner of Kinloch Farm, may have played a role in the shooting. But by 1995 that line of investigation didn’t pan out either, Hartman said.
According to a criminal complaint obtained by the newspaper, Cloud went to Baker’s home and acknowledged “exchanging words” with him at the front door. When Baker ran into the back bedroom, Cloud broke in the front door. Investigators believe Baker fired a shotgun at Cloud, but missed. Cloud then shot and killed Baker, according to the complaint.
“Thus, the workplace violence avenue of investigation that had been previously abandoned was indeed the correct motivation for the crime,” investigators said in the complaint. “However, as investigation finally revealed, it was one generation removed from the employee.”
West Virginia records show Cloud is listed as a prisoner in the Mount Olive Correctional Facility in West Virginia. He was sentenced in Hampshire County, W.Va., in 1988 on kidnapping, conspiracy and sexual assault charges, according to the records. The newspaper reports Cloud is serving a life sentence for beating and chaining the woman, who worked with him at a manufacturing plant in Winchester.
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