News & Politics

Story Update: Terrence Barnett Arrested

Did a Washingtonian story prompt DC police to take action?

The July issue of the Washingtonian, on sale now, contains an article by freelance writer Brendan L. Smith about the DC police department’s Cold Case Unit. The story focuses on the 1999 murder of Yolanda Baker and details the likely involvement of Terrence Barnett, Baker’s boyfriend.

On June 23, one day before the story appeared in print, DC police arrested Barnett and charged him with second-degree murder in the ten-year-old case.

Barnett had a history of domestic violence and immediately became the lead suspect when Baker disappeared in 1999, but he avoided arrest for a decade. Baker’s family had pushed for the reopening of the investigation by the DC police’s Cold Case Unit.

“It felt good,” says Sergeant James Young about Barnett’s arrest. “I’d like to do it for all of the cold cases.” Young says it was a coincidence that the arrest happened just before the publication of the article, which police knew was forthcoming.

Baker’s body still hasn’t been found, but blood stains left in the trunk of her abandoned car were linked to her through a DNA test. Crime-scene investigators also found evidence that her former home on 44th Street in Northeast DC had been cleaned with bleach and the carpet was missing in the master bedroom. DNA tests linked blood splatters in the bedroom to both Baker and Barnett, according to an arrest-warrant affidavit.

Barnett was living with Baker and their five-year-old children at the time of Baker’s disappearance, despite previous arrests and restraining orders for domestic violence. The 44-year-old had moved to Capitol Heights prior to his arrest last week.

Barnett is being held without bond in the DC jail awaiting a preliminary hearing. If convicted, he could face a sentence of 40 years to life in prison.

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