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Crime News Dateline

Did A Substance Abuse Counselor's Troubled Past Lead To His Murder?

After Randy Baker was found gunned down in his Colorado home, investigators would discover an unlikely list of suspected killers. 

By Jill Sederstrom

When Randy Baker was found dead inside the hallway of his Colorado home, the fast food he’d purchased just minutes earlier spilled across the floor, it looked like the 59-year-old’s bad heart had finally got the best of him.

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“I just got home, and I opened the door, and my husband’s dead on the floor,” a frantic Kelly Baker can be heard telling a 911 dispatcher around 8:30 a.m. on Aug. 16, 2017, according to “Dateline: Secrets Uncovered,” airing Wednesdays at 8/7c on Oxygen.

The coroner’s investigator arrived a short time later and initially believed that Randy had died of natural causes until an autopsy revealed two bullets burrowed into his body.

There were other troubling signs at the scene as well. Randy’s wallet, keys, and his car — a Pontiac he had been driving when he pulled through the Santiago’s restaurant drive-thru at 7:30 p.m. on Aug. 15, 2017, not long before his death — had also disappeared.

Randy’s death was a homicide, but who could have wanted the recovering heart patient dead?

His wife, Kelly, initially suggested to detectives that her husband’s former past as a drug dealer could have provided someone with a motive for gunning down the reformed substance abuse counselor, but investigators would soon discover Randy’s killers were much closer to home.

Life-Changing Accident

Randy’s life had been forever altered when he was just 28 years old and got electrocuted while working as a lineman for the local power company. Randy suffered permanent heart damage and was in such pain he found himself turning to drugs.

“There was just so much pain there and he didn’t know what to do with it,” his ex-wife, Dori Baker, told "Dateline" correspondent Keith Morrison of the dark years that would follow.

As Randy delved deeper into drugs and alcohol, he began to deal drugs, but after three years of addiction and substance abuse, Randy cleaned up his life and got sober.

He committed himself to helping others and became a dedicated drug and alcohol counselor, even helping his own nephew, Kelly Raisley, battle drug addiction.

“My dearest uncle, … not only have you been a role model and inspiration to me, but the closest person I’ve ever had as a real father figure,” Raisley texted Randy in a 2015 Father’s Day message.

Randy had also played a vital role in the life of his daughter, Betty Winick.

“He was my person,” Winick recalled. “So, I went to him for anything and everything.”

As his life got back on track, Randy caught the eye of a local hairdresser named Kelly and his marriage to Dori dissolved soon after.

A Marriage In Trouble

For years, it appeared that Randy and Kelly were happy together, but as Randy’s health continued to decline, Kelly found herself assuming more of a caretaker role. After 18 years together, in the spring of 2017, Kelly announced that she had enough and moved out of the Colorado home they had once shared together.

She’d later tell Greeley Police detectives she had been pushed to her breaking point because Randy “was just kind of mean.”

She also told detectives that Randy had two life insurance policies totaling just $10,000.

But there was one question posed by detectives that Kelly had initially refused to answer: whether or not she had been seeing anyone else at the time of the murder.  After detectives persisted, she admitted to having an affair with another man. The man also admitted to the affair, but also told police that he had been with Kelly on the night Randy was killed.

A Crucial Clue

Investigators would get the break they needed when five days after Randy was killed, his car was found abandoned in a south Greeley alley, wiped down with the license plate removed.

Detectives learned that the car had been listed for sale on Facebook and eventually learned after interviewing a series of career criminals that Randy’s own sister, Carol Baker, had been the one to pass off the vehicle.

The relationship between Randy and his older sister had been strained for years — but Carol had developed a close friendship with his wife, Kelly.

“It was kind of Kelly and Carol versus my dad a lot, and it became that way big time once all of us kids were out of the house,” Winick recalled.

Carol had also been the last person at Randy’s house before he was murdered. She told detectives that she had been at the home to do chores for Kelly, but left about an hour before his death and had been visiting a nearby aunt at the time of the fatal gunfire.

After learning of the unusually close relationship between Kelly and Carol, Det. Mike Prill began a deep dive into both women’s phones and discovered the women had exchanged about 4,500 text messages over the spring and summer that year.

“The phone records were confirming that there was a seething hatred between the two towards Randy,” Prill said.

Yet, both women had airtight alibis at the time Randy was killed. Prill finally put the pieces of the murder together when he discovered a text message from Carol to Kelly instructing her to list a phone number in her phone under the name “Sonia” — which really traced back to Raisley, the same relative who had once thanked Randy for being a supportive father figure.

Raisley, who was Carol Baker’s son, had a sordid past with ties to a white supremacist gang and had already served a lengthy prison sentence, according to Prill.

Putting The Pieces Together

Investigators determined that the trio had been planning Randy’s murder for months, a theory that Carol confirmed herself during a police interrogation. According to Carol, Kelly had been the mastermind of the murder and wanted Randy dead because she believed “he would never leave her alone.”

It may not have been her only motive. Detectives also found out that rather than a meager $10,000 in life insurance proceeds, Kelly had actually stood to inherit more than $130,000 in life insurance money, along with the couple’s house.

After seven months behind bars, Raisley, who went by the nickname “Griz,” admitted to being the trigger man after cutting a deal with prosecutors that took the death penalty off the table in exchange for his testimony against Kelly.

He insisted Randy had been a great man and claimed he had been manipulated by Carol and Kelly to carry out the shooting in exchange for $10,000 and Randy’s beloved Harley Davidson motorcycle.

However, when he’d finally take the stand, he’d refuse to recount the story he had told investigators about how the three had planned the murder.

Even without his testimony, Kelly was convicted of murder in the first-degree and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

“We got to know the real Kelly Baker. What became clear to us, is she’s a manipulator,” Weld County Chief Deputy District Attorney Anthea Carrasco told “Dateline: Secrets Uncovered.”

Raisley got the same sentence and Carol received 30 years behind bars for her role in killing her baby brother.

The convictions brought some measure of justice to Winick, but she still mourns the father who had once been her person.

“This situation has made me feel like I’m not in control in anything in my life and the one person who made like I could be in control of it was him, and I can’t call him to see if I’m handling this the right way,” she said.

For more on this case and others like it, watch "Dateline: Secrets Uncovered," airing Wednesdays at 8/7c on Oxygen or stream episodes here.