Police charge suspect with 2nd degree murder

Vernon Baker faces 2nd degree murder, drug charges

Published  5:45 PM HST Jul 29, 2013
Vernon Baker
HONOLULU -

Honolulu police charged Vernon Baker with second degree murder in the stabbing death of realtor Mary Beth San Juan. He also faces two counts of promoting dangerous drugs and paraphernalia.

San Juan was found stabbed to death last week, her body rolled up in carpet and left in her driveway.

The case took investigators deep into  Palolo Valley Monday morning.

They came to a Zen Center tucked away at the end of Waiamao Road.

The head of the center, Micheal Kieran, told KITV Vernon Baker worked as a caretaker at the retreat for about 11 months, but left in June after he became ill and couldn’t fulfill his duties.

Baker attended the Zen Center on and off since 2002, and had told his employers he had lived in Santa Rosa, Calif. as well as the Big Island. 

On Monday, a tribute of flowers was growing in the driveway where the body of the Honolulu realtor was found.

A check of court records showed that at one time Vernon Baker used the Punahou Street home as an address for a parking ticket he received years ago.

The home is listed to Masjid Al-Farrah which is linked to  a Sufi religious order out of New York.

Realtor Don Persons knew the previous owners who sold the home to the group's spiritual leader.

"She was friends of the lady that owned the house.  They had something in common with her religion. She let Mary Beth move into the house and Mary Beth had been there ever since," said Persons.

Others who knew San Juan said she also had a Sufi name -- "Rahan."

Don Persons worked with San Juan for five years at Gold Coast Realty.

This was her corner desk just a stone's throw from San Souci Beach where she swam regularly.

He guesses that Baker may have gone to San Juan for help.

"Mary Beth was a such a good person she would take in anybody, anyone who needed help she would help them," said Persons.

But never in his wildest imagination did Persons think that her kindness would end in such violence.

"Beyond shocked, just beyond shocked," said Persons.

Baker is to make his first court appearance Tuesday.

Bail is set at $200,000.

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