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Male prostitute charged in doc’s strangulation death

A MALE prostitute has been charged with the murder of 75-year-old psychiatrist Dr. Howard Baker.

A MALE prostitute has been charged with the murder of 75-year-old psychiatrist Dr. Howard Baker.

Philadelphia Police officials said Wednesday that Manuel Baez, 27, strangled Baker early Monday morning inside a fifth-floor hotel room at the Rodeway Inn, on Walnut Street above 12th in Center City.

Surveillance footage showed Baez leaving the hotel room with Baker's backpack and wallet.

"He gave a full confession," said Homicide Capt. James Clark.

"During whatever was going on inside of the room, he made the decision that he was going to kill and rob him. And that's what he did."

Baez was homeless and a prostitute, Clark said.

This isn't Baez's first brush with the law.

According to court records, Allentown police arrested Baez in June on drug-possession and evidence-tampering charges. He entered a guilty plea last month, and was released from a Lehigh County prison for time served.

His criminal history stretches back to at least 2007, and includes guilty pleas for offenses that ranged from simple assault to theft to loitering and prowling at night to possessing a controlled substance, the records show.

During a news conference Tuesday, Clark said hotel staff found Baker's naked body on the floor of his hotel room, a leather belt wrapped around his neck.

Baker checked into the hotel Sunday afternoon.

He told his wife that he was at a bar watching the Eagles that night, Clark said. But surveillance footage showed him leaving the hotel twice, and returning the first time with an unknown man and then later with Baez.

Clark said the first man who entered the hotel with Baker wasn't a suspect in the case.

Baker was a board-certified psychiatrist who had offices in Center City and Wynnewood. On his website, Baker wrote that he specialized in treating patients with "relationship problems, AD/HD and spiritual difficulties."


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