Ex-LaFollette cop wanted on child sex charges turns himself in

Ex-LaFollette cop wanted on child sex charges turns himself in

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Baker turned himself in early Monday morning. (Source: Claiborne County Sheriff's Office) Baker turned himself in early Monday morning. (Source: Claiborne County Sheriff's Office)
Michael Baker (Source: Claiborne County Sheriff's Office) Michael Baker (Source: Claiborne County Sheriff's Office)

By STEPHANIE BEECKEN
6 News Reporter

TAZEWELL (WATE) - A former LaFollette police officer on the run since July turned himself in to the Claiborne County Sheriff's Office Monday.

Anita Baker woke up early Monday morning to a knock on the door of her New Tazewell home. It was her son, one of TBI's most wanted, 39-year-old Michael Shane Baker.

"He just came to me and said momma I need to talk to you. I'm tired of being like an animal," said Anita Baker.

Shortly after the conversation, Anita says her son was taken into custody. Captain David Honeycutt with the Claiborne County Sheriff's Department helped make the arrest.

"He conveyed to me that he was tired of being on the run that he was exhausted," said Captain Honeycutt.

Captain Honeycutt said for the past three months Baker has been living in the mountains of East Tennessee, losing 40 pounds in that time and growing a beard. He said with Baker having police training, he's glad the arrest was made without incident.

"There's always the chance that this could have end badly. He's trained with weapons but he chose to take the other route," said Baker.

LaFollette Police Chief Jeff Jeffries assisted in several searches for Baker. He's relieved to see the former police officer behind bars.

"Police officers are sworn to serve and protect. We're not sworn to do the things that he's done so when police officers do things like that they need to be the first ones behind bars," said Chief Jeffries.

In July, Baker was indicted on 44 felony counts of child sex crimes. He had been #8 on the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation's Top Ten Most Wanted List since July.

Baker is accused of having inappropriate contact with an underage girl through the Internet.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation contacted the LaFollette Police Department about Baker after an investigation showed he used webcams and text messages between August and December 2011 to lure a girl to engage in sexual activity and simulated sexual activity.

Baker was fired from the force after the investigation.

The 8th Judicial District Attorney's Office and the Knoxville Police Department's Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force joined in the investigation.

Baker was indicted by the Campbell County Grand Jury on July 11. The charges include 22 counts of especially aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor and 22 counts of sexual exploitation of a minor.

Baker is being held on a $100,000 bond. He will be arraigned on October 29 in Campbell County.

Officials who made the arrest said Baker appeared in high spirits while being taken to the jail. They say he seemed relieved to no longer be on the run and living in the woods.

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