Created on Friday, 09 August 2013 Written by THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
KETTERING, Ohio (AP) — The family of a 9-year-old girl who disappeared while walking their dog in 1999 now has a memorial monument to her in a southwest Ohio cemetery.
The monument for Erica Baker will be dedicated this weekend. The Dayton Daily News (http://bit.ly/15iXoMr ) reported the girl's mother had been reluctant to have one.
"The rest of the family has wanted to do this for several years, but I refused until now," Misty Baker told the newspaper. "To me, I felt like it would mean I would be giving up. But I shouldn't look at it that way. That isn't true."
Authorities believe Erica was struck and likely fatally injured by a van the day she was last seen by her family. A man who told police he buried her body served prison time after being convicted of gross abuse of a corpse and tampering with evidence, but her remains were ever located.
The public is invited to see the monument Saturday at David's Cemetery in the Dayton suburb of Kettering, Erica's hometown. Her parents and three brothers will be there. Baker said there will be photos of her daughter.
"I chose a monument that has flying butterflies on it," she said. "The purple one is for Erica. The blue one is for me. Mine is covering hers."
Baker said the monument dedication will be a way for people to honor Erica and say goodbye.
"Everyone is welcome," she said. "Friends, family and the community."
Police said earlier this year that they continue to pursue any leads that come in, such as one from someone on a college campus who thought a young woman he saw could be Erica. That turned out to be false, just like other tips that have been checked out.