A poignant calm hung over the funeral on August 21 of Ineasie Maxie Baker, who was slain at an institution for young adult criminals where she worked.
Mourners wept silently during the service, marked by law enforcement personnel in dress uniform, a flag-draped casket and the honors accorded a fallen comrade.
Ten days after Baker’s body was found at a Walnut landfill, more than 2,800 friends, colleagues and family gathered to remember her at a service, which occasionally captured the rich spirit of a revival meeting. More than 20 flower arrangements flanked the casket, which was surrounded by several pictures of Baker.
Baker, 42, counseled inmates at the Heman G. Stark Youth Training School in Chino. It was there that she was beaten to death on August 9, allegedly by 24-year-old inmate James Ferris. Police allege Ferris killed Baker with a battery pack and dumped her body in a trash bin. Ferris is already serving a life sentence for murder. Baker’s body was found August 11.
Friends and clergy who spoke at her funeral at the vast Four-square Gospel Church emphasized not the tragic manner of Baker’s death but the value of her life.
“We ask ourselves, ‘How could something like this happen to someone of such noble character?’ ” said Joe Sandoval, representing the Youth and Adult Correctional Agency. “But through that pain, you must know you have been enriched by knowing her.”
The homicide is the first ever of a peace officer at a CYA facility and the first of a staff member on an institution’s grounds since a teacher was killed at the El Paso de Robles school in San Luis Obispo County in 1975, according to CYA spokesman Tony Cimarusti.
CYA Director Frank Alarcon said in a prepared statement: “I’m sure the sadness I feel is shared by all Youth Authority employees. We talk frequently about how dangerous our line staff’s work can be. this tragedy brings that home in shocking fashion.”
“There is a pall over the whole department,” Cimarusti added. “People are numbed by Baker’s death.”
The congregation, sprinkled with uniformed members of the CYA, the Youth Training School and several white-gloved honor guard members, heard words of consolation and hope based on Christian scripture.
“Where God has put a period, we should not put a question mark,” said the Rev. Charles Bennett, pastor of Revival Time Church of Christ in Compton. “To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.”
Following the service, Baker’s flag-draped casket moved through two columns of officers, receiving acknowledgment from the honor guard and a final, solemn salute from officers.
Parole Officer Donny Ross met Baker when he was a rookie at the authority in 1987. He praised her as a dedicated and inspirational counselor whose main concern was the inmates.
“When people on the inside are killed, it hurts all of us,” said Ross. “We’re there for treatment, training and education, trying to better help these young people.”
Baker’s vitality will be missed, said Group Supervisor Lafayette Boyd, who worked with her at CYA. “She was very well respected at the facility,” Boyd said. “She was the model for all of us.”
After graduating from Cal State Fullerton, Baker worked as a supervisor for Laura Scudders for more than ten years before gaining interest in criminal justice. After successfully graduating from the academy, she became a correctional officer and was later promoted as a counselor. She was employed by the CYA for 13 years. She was highly respected as a State official, often working long hours to fulfill the needs of others.
Baker is survived by her husband, Don; daughter, Tiffany; stepdaughter, Cynthia Baker; stepgrandson, Dominic Cloy; and parents, Fred D. Maxie and Mary Maxie.
A trust fund has been established: Ineasie M. Baker Scholarship Fund, Redlands Federal Bank, 2900 Hamner Avenue, P.O. Box 878, Norco, CA 91760.