Uncle Thankful for Volunteers' Effort In Search

Saturday, November 24th 2007, 2:31 pm
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Relatives of a missing 13-year-old girl who is presumed dead are expressing gratitude to volunteers who gave up their Thanksgiving Day holiday to look for her.

The search for Cori Baker was officially supposed to take Thursday off to give volunteers a break to spend time with their families. But Cori's uncle, Eric Klein, said many of the volunteers just couldn't bear taking a day off when they knew the Baker family was missing one of their own.

"I think there were about 25 people who showed up anyway and did their own thing," Klein said.

"For me, it was just a different twist on the holiday. It really makes you appreciate what you do have,'' he said.

But when it was time to go around the table and say what they were most thankful for this year, Klein said, he couldn't ignore the hundreds of people who are dedicating their own time and efforts to help find his niece.

"My heart just goes out to all of them,'' he said. "I'm just so thankful for everyone who has helped out in this effort.''

Cori was last seen on Nov. 9 leaving Tulsa Union Alternative School with her older sister's boyfriend, Marquis Milton Bullock, who is in jail and accused of killing the girl.

There were about 90 minutes between the time Bullock reportedly picked up Cori from school and the time he showed up at his house without her.

That was 15 days ago, and search and recovery teams are focusing on those 90 minutes to determine where to concentrate their efforts.

"We are working with the assumption that whatever he did with her was done in that time window,'' Klein said. "We did a five-mile radius around the school, around his house and around her house, and we've been trying to fill those areas in.''

Within those five miles around each location, there are many different types of terrain. Searchers are using horses, dogs and ATVs to assist in the recovery effort, and the banks along the Arkansas River, previously searched by police, are being searched again, as the water has gone down significantly, revealing sand bars and more land near the banks.

"We've got people going up on the bridges, with binoculars and walking along the banks,'' Klein said.

What rescue workers don't want to think about is the three days between the time Cori was last seen alive and the arrest of Bullock.

"There were times during that period that he was unaccounted for,'' Klein said.

If the search area becomes a three-day area, instead of a 90-minute search area, that could be disastrous for recovery efforts because it could overwhelm, frustrate and discourage searchers, he said.