Frederick Baer

This is a special episode for Behind the Crime! Think of this as a blog/podcast crossover with the Ignorance Was Bliss podcast. Kate and I talked about the case of Frederick Baer and something a little closer to home. I hope you all enjoy it!

When Frederick Baer was 32 years old, he murdered 26 year old Cory Clark after attempting to sexually assault her. Once Cory was dead, Baer chased down Jenna, her 4 year old daughter, and killed her as well. Baer had been seen driving around Clark’s neighborhood and was arrested shortly thereafter. Baer attempted to plead guilty but mentally ill, but the court denied the plea even though the two court appointed mental health experts found that Baer was, indeed, mentally ill. Frederick Baer was found guilty and sentenced to death on June 9, 2005.

Frederick Baer was raised in Indianapolis. Though he never knew his biological father, he and his older sister were adopted by their mother’s new husband. Frederick remembers it being a good childhood. He says his mother and stepfather were loving, and he and his sister never went hungry. Things were good. Then Evelyn, Frederick’s beloved older sister, was murdered by her abusive ex-husband. Frederick wasn’t even a teenager yet.

Evelyn’s death drove the entire family into a downward spiral. Baer’s stepfather started using alcohol to deal with the tragedy. Before too long, he started getting emotionally and physically abusive. Frederick had not only lost his sister, but was losing his relationship with his stepfather as well. Though he had at one time dreamed of following his stepfather’s footsteps in the Army, now Baer was struggling just to cope with day to day life. His mother withdrew more and more and Baer became hyperactive and lost the ability to concentrate in school. He fell into the wrong crowd and was regularly using drugs by the time he got out of high school.

On February 25, 2004, Baer was working at a construction site. He had been using methamphetamines for some time and was coming down from his last binge. During a come down cycle, symptoms can include muscle weakness and pain, anxiety, depression, and hopelessness. Baer was steeped in this cycle when he left his job site and drove to the Lapel, Indiana neighborhood where Cory Clark lived. Cory’s oldest daughter was at school and her husband was out of state to look for a job. Baer had seen Cory outside an pulled up to her house and knocked on the door. Young Jenna answered the door and Frederick asked if her could talk to her mother. When Cory came to the door, Baer told her he was lost and asked if he could use her phone. Cory turned from the door to go get the phone and Baer followed her inside. After both Cory and Jenna were dead, Baer stole the little bit of cash that was in Cory’s purse and left the scene.

Frederick Baer has adapted to life in prison. The structure seems to work for him, though it is necessary to keep him completely separated from other prisoners for his own safety. Even amongst other violent criminals, the murder of a young child is extremely prejudicial. Baer himself has said that he probably does deserve to die for what he did. He keeps both Cory’s and Jenna’s birthdays marked on the calendar that hangs on the wall of his cell. Indiana State Prison considers Baer to be a good prisoner, though. Even on death row, he’s allowed certain privileges. There are pictures of Princess Diana hanging all over his cell. He says he was always drawn to Diana – to her heart and her drive to help those around her. He’s even allowed to have a pet cat named Princesss that lives with him in his prison cell.

While Baer has said that he most likely deserves the sentence that he received, he’s filed several appeals throughout the years. His most recent appeal was upheld and his death sentence has been reversed. As of January this year, the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has overturned Baer’s death sentence and the case has been sent back to Madison County for resentencing. Among the issues that Baer says were withheld from the jury during sentencing were the diagnoses of his mental illness. Dr. George Parker concluded that Baer’s extensive history of drug use could have easily changed his brain chemistry in a detrimental way. Dr. Mark Cunningham testified at length about Baer’s family history of drug and alcohol abuse, physical abuse, psychological disorders, as well as multiple head injuries that Baer suffered during school. Dr. Cunningham concluded that Baer was “extraordinarily damaged”. A neuropsychologist who studied Baer found no reason to believe that Baer was malingering or faking it. He diagnosed Baer with persisting dementia, substance-induced psychosis that persisted even when Baer was not actually under the influence. A licensed clinical social worker, Dr. George Savarese, testified that Baer’s mental illnesses were a direct result of years of abuse and the troubled relationship between his parents. Years of physical and emotional abuse as well as Baer’s drug abuse led to a defense mechanism known as “splitting” and while Baer was able to understand that his conduct was wrong, he was not able to control it.

It’s important to understand the GBMI – guilty but mentally ill – plea. Frederick Baer acknowledged his guilt. He was seen in the neighborhood. Cory Clark’s blood was found in his car. His guilt was never really in question. The question, instead, was how to respond to his guilt, and when it comes to a question of how to respond, a jury needs to think about not just the victims of a crime but also of the perpetrator.

I come from a fairly small town in the middle of Texas. I grew up with a close family and most of my extended family lived in the area as well. There were a few rough patches as I was becoming an adult, but I worked through them with the support of those around me. I married my husband in 1998 and I have 3 beautiful daughters and one absolutely adorable granddaughter. Yet, despite all this, I was sentenced to 5 years deferred adjudication probation after pleading guilty to felony theft <$20,000. I’ve spent a lot of time since then wondering how in the world I got to this point in my life. How did I become a 40 year old wife and mother with a criminal arrest record?

Long story short, I used to manage a rent-to-own business. The store had a long history of missing merchandise that went back several managers before me. After some time of juggling paperwork and inventory, I had finally had enough and told my district manager about the missing merchandise. During one of the most stressful events I have ever been through (and that includes having broken an ankle and tearing the ACL in my right knee, three childbirths, and a hysterectomy due to possible cancer) I said the words “As the manager, I’m responsible for the store.”

You know that bit that you see on every TV crime drama where a lawyer pops up and says “Don’t say anything!”? For the record, you should take that advice to heart. ESPECIALLY if you’re innocent.

My lawyer, hired too late to do any real good, informed me that there was a good chance that if this went to trial I could spend up to 7 years in prison. Prison. I still can’t see that word without hyperventilating. Typing it has me in tears. I cannot express to you the fear that one word instills, and I never actually stole anything. The stress that this situation puts on me is almost unspeakable, and yet it has very little effect on my day-to-day life. I’m free to come and go, as long as I’m home by 11pm. I meet with my probation officer once a month and submit to drug testing twice a year. Still, sometimes it all crashes down on me and it’s all I can do to breathe, much less function.

Now I try to put myself in the place of Frederick Baer. It is a matter of court record that he came from a long line of abuse, substance abuse, psychological disorders, physical injuries, and extreme family stress. None of this excuses his actions. None of this means that Cory and Jenna Clark deserved to die in the horrible fashion they did. None of this means that Frederick Baer deserves to live free among the rest of the population. But does it mean that he deserves to forfeit his life?

The hard reality is that we have all had pain in our lives. We have all had stress. Every single one of us has done something we regret. We’ve hurt someone, whether emotionally or physically, purposefully or not. We’ve all failed. Every one of us should give others the consideration that we would like to receive in return. It’s easy to write someone off as a monster. It’s easy to see the evil in them. It’s necessary to see the humanity behind the crime if we’re ever going to learn how to change and grow past the horrible events we see everyday.

Again, thank you to Kate and thank you to Bek and Tyler for all their support!

Larry Loveless

On the eleventh of January 1992, twelve year old Shanda Sharer was tortured, beaten, raped, and finally killed by a group of four teenage girls.  The case shattered a small Indiana town as well as the lives of Shanda’s family. The horror of that day started long before young Shanda met her killers, though.  That horror began years before, before her murderers met each other, before they started school, and long before they reached the age where a court would sentence at least one of them to sixty years in a woman’s correctional facility.    I would like you to look back with me to what led up to such a violent, chaotic event. Together we can look behind this terrible crime and perhaps learn more about the people involved.


Please be warned that this case is very dark.  It involves the physical, emotional, and sexual abuse of children as well as spousal abuse.  In short, this case covers the spectrum of human cruelty. If at any time you feel overwhelmed by the events described, please stop reading.  If you are the victim of domestic assault or if you suspect someone you know is a victim, you can contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or at  You can reach their victim advocates at either location.  And finally, any opinions expressed here are mine and do not reflect the opinions of the Minds of Madness podcast.

As horrible as the crime against Shanda was, this story is not about that.  If you’d like to listen to Shanda’s heartbreaking story, I suggest True Crime All The Time episode 62 “The Murder of Shanda Sharer”.  Keep a box of tissues nearby. You will need them. This case is about Melinda Loveless and her father, the man that taught her how to approach the world, Larry Loveless.


The year after she was arrested for the murder of Shanda, Melinda Loveless pled guilty to murder, arson, and criminal confinement.  At the young age of seventeen, Melinda was sentenced to sixty years in prison. During her sentencing hearing, Melinda’s sisters and a cousin testified that Melinda’s father, Larry Eugene Loveless, had molested them all at a young age.  It’s important to note here that Melinda herself never accused her father of any wrongdoing. Melinda was very close to her father, and heartbroken herself when Larry left the family. She was fourteen when Larry left. Until that time, Melinda was often known to sleep in the same bed as the father she adored.  His departure from the family left her angry, confused, and prone to violent outbursts.


Larry Loveless was a man of many faces.  As a young man, he was drafted into the Viet Nam war and recognized as a hero when he returned home.  He worked for the Southern Railroad. He became a probation officer with the New Albany police department in Indiana.  That career ended early, though, when he was fired for assaulting an African-American man that Larry had accused of sleeping with his wife. His career as a mail carrier ended quickly, as well, once it was found out that he would take most of his mail route’s envelopes home and burn them.  


None of that is as odd as Larry’s stint as a lay preacher at Graceland Baptist Church, though. While at the church, Larry worked as a marriage counselor.  Only, the women he counseled often complained that Larry was much too free with them. It was also during this period that a young Melinda Loveless was taken to a motel room with a fifty year old man for a five hour exorcism.  For two years, starting when Melinda was only five years old, Larry and Marjorie Loveless raised their children in this confusing environment where they weren’t safe at home or at the church.


Not only were Melinda and her sisters raised in an environment that wasn’t safe, they were also raised without the basic necessities.  The three sisters were known to visit their extended relatives hungry whenever there wasn’t enough food at home. And then there were the times that Larry would humiliate his daughters by finding their underwear and sniffing them in front of company.


Larry’s abuse wasn’t limited to his young daughters.  He was also so abusive towards his wife that she attempted suicide in multiple occasions.  The abuse Marjorie suffered was multi-layered. She was physically abused, sometimes beaten so badly that hospitalization was required. In 1986, Larry sent her to the hospital after she told him she didn’t want him to go home with two women he’d met in a bar.  This wasn’t an unusual occurrence for Marjorie. She would often go out with Larry, who would then find someone that he wanted to watch Marjorie have sex with. Larry and Marjorie had a reputation as swingers. Larry would even invite people home that he worked with to “share” Marjorie.  It was during several of these orgies that Marjorie would try to kill herself. One suicide attempt happened after Larry had invited another couple to their house. Another happened after Larry had forced Marjorie into having sex with multiple partners, effectively gang raping her.


It was after that incident that Marjorie tried to stand up for herself.  She refused Larry’s advances for a month, until her violent husband had decided he’d had enough.  Larry raped Marjorie in front of her three daughters, making them listen to the entire event. Finally, in 1990, Marjorie had had enough.  She attempted to attack Larry with a kitchen knife after finding him spying on one of their daughters and a friend. When the attack failed, she attempted suicide again.  Her children called the authorities and Larry filed for divorce.


Melinda’s parents’ divorce left Melinda without any male role model at all.  Larry moved to Florida shortly thereafter, and though he did attempt to write a few letters to his youngest daughter, it wasn’t long before he stopped all contact.  Melinda was left feeling alone and betrayed. So when her girlfriend started showing interest in the new girl at school, it was no big surprise that Melinda reacted violently.  


According to the Domestic Violence Roundtable, a community based nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting safe and healthy relationships, children who are exposed to domestic violence can express themselves through violence and increased aggression.  Children often repeat the violence they see as they grow. Melinda Loveless took the lessons taught to her by her father and led a horrendous and exceptionally violent attack on a twelve year old little girl who’d had the bad luck of attracting the attention of Melinda’s girlfriend.  Floyd county prosecutor Stan Faith said of Larry Loveless, “I think we have a duty to bring this particular person to justice. He is part of the cause and effect of all these events.”


Faith charged Larry Loveless with three counts of rape, six counts of sodomy, and two counts of sexual battery.  All charges were against children and, because Loveless had used threats of physical violence against his victims in order to keep them quiet, the prosecutor’s office said the crimes had no statute of limitations.  However, in June of 1995 a judge ruled that all crimes were past the allowed time allotment and dropped all counts but one count of sexual battery. Larry was released with a sentence of time served.


Melinda Loveless, on the other hand, is still in prison.  She attempted to get a reduction in her sentence in 2008, but that appeal was denied.  She’s used her time in prison to make some sort of amends, though. Melinda is one of the most called for trainers in the ICAN program, or the Indiana Canine Assistance Network.  She helps raise and train dogs for the program. And after Jacque Sharer, Shanda’s mother, saw an interview with Melinda, she agreed to help. In 2012, Jacque donated a dog name Angel to the program to be trained by Melinda.  


Not all crimes have a clear and delineated path.  The murder of Shanda Sharer didn’t begin with Melinda Loveless and it didn’t end with Shanda’s death.  Countless people had their lives destroyed in the saga that led up to and followed Shanda’s murder. Larry Loveless died on December 16, 1998 at the age of fifty-two.  
If you would like to know more about the Domestic Violence Roundtable, you can find them at  You can find the ICAN program at  And you can find me at or at You can contact me by email at or on Twitter by searching @behindcrimeblog.  Please feel free to contact me with any feedback or suggestions!  If you haven’t already, please make sure you subscribe to the Minds of Madness podcast on your favorite podcatcher and join us on the closed Facebook discussion group.  Thank you again to Bek and Tyler for everything they’ve done, and thank you for joining me in this look Behind the Crime!