After speaking with a detective by phone at 3:30 p.m. Sept. 6, Madera County Sheriff John Anderson was convinced that Harry Baker, owner of Sierra Tel, was safe, after an earlier report that Baker had been kidnapped.
The search ended but the investigation continues as to who made the original phone call.
"Our office takes these calls very seriously and resources were exhausted by this department in an effort to find Harry Baker and make sure he was safe and unharmed," said Erica Stuart, sheriff's office public information officer.
In a Sept. 6 Fresno Bee on-line story, Anderson said he was first apprised of the suspected kidnapping early that morning after an unidentified woman called from Oakhurst to report that Baker was kidnapped.
When deputies went to the home where the woman called from, the residents were uncooperative, said Anderson.
Sheriff's officials say they then were advised that Baker was in Modesto when he was kidnapped and was apparently driven back to Oakhurst to take money out of two banks. Baker and the suspects then apparently returned to Modesto according to the Bee story.
Stuart said the woman who called the Sheriff's office said a ransom demand was made for Baker's release.
Baker, 85, is scheduled to be in Fresno County Superior Court Sept. 20 for a hearing on his felony charge of committing a lewd and lascivious act with a minor. The charge stems from an alleged 2007 incident in a Fresno hotel room with a 13-year-old girl. The hearing is a motion by the defense to dismiss the charge.
According to Baker's lawyers, he was alone in a Fresno hotel in May 2007 and dressed in a bathrobe when the 13-year-old girl and another woman showed up at his room. Baker was allegedly videotaped fondling the girl, according to a Fresno County Superior Court affidavit for Baker's arrest. Baker's attorney has stated that Baker was misled by the girl into checking her breast for a lump.
According to the police affidavit, Baker paid for two rooms at the Residence Inn from May 12 to May 14, 2007. Before going to the hotel, the girl's family had purchased a sophisticated clock with a hidden video camera. They later set up the camera device in Baker's motel room without his knowledge.
The sheriff's office has stated that the people that prompted the latest investigation are the same people involved in the case that brought the felony charge against Baker.
Baker's health has caused numerous delays in his court case. Two summers ago, he underwent open-heart surgery and received an artificial aortic valve.
Baker told authorities that he subsequently paid $250,000 to the girl's family as part of a blackmail/extortion scheme. No charges have ever been brought against any members of the girl's family.