BOISE (Idaho Statesman) — A 37-year-old man died of an apparent suicide Tuesday in prison before going to trial on accusations that he repeatedly sexually abused a 10-year-old and had a role in kidnapping a woman and chaining her in a barn.
Chancey Lee Baker was found hanging at the Idaho State Correctional Institution in Kuna around 8:30 p.m. Tuesday. He’d been in the Idaho Department of Correction’s custody since June 28, when he was transferred from the Owyhee County Jail, according to IDOC spokesman Jeff Ray.
Baker was being housed at IDOC because he had violated his parole on previous felony convictions for sex offenses. He was due back in court on Oct. 25 in the sexual abuse and kidnapping cases.
Ray explained that Baker died in what IDOC calls a “search enclosure.”
“Baker was in the process of being moved from one housing unit to another,” Ray said in an email. “Inmates are temporarily held in search enclosures, where they are searched while being transferred.”
He was not on suicide watch at the prison and apparently used clothing to hang himself, Ray said.
Baker was convicted of felony failing to register as a sex offender in Canyon County in 2014. He was sentenced for felony injury to child in Owyhee County in 2005, a sentence that ran concurrently to a 2004 Canyon County conviction on lewd conduct with a child under age 16.
He was released on parole on Aug. 15, 2017, and was living in Owyhee County when the latest alleged crimes occurred. In February, the Idaho Statesman wrote about Baker’s case because he was accused of repeatedly sexually abusing a 10-year-old.
Owyhee County Sheriff Perry Grant told the Statesman that he initially requested that 56 charges be filed against Baker, but the prosecutor filed 21. In court that month, a judge found that there was probable cause for 10 of those 21 charges, including eight counts of lewd conduct with a child younger than age 16 and two counts of sexual abuse of a child younger than age 16.
Additionally, Baker was awaiting trial for his alleged role in the kidnapping of a 36-year-old woman, who was the mother of the 10-year-old.
Owyhee County sheriff’s detectives said that on Dec. 14, 2018, Baker and his roommate, Mikal Christensen, 24, kidnapped a Homedale woman from her mobile home on Lootens Lane and then left her chained in a barn for eight days. Christensen, who has a felony conviction for attempted injury to child in Minidoka County, spent time in prison with Baker.
According to probable cause affidavits reviewed at the time by the Statesman, Baker and Christensen taped the woman’s hands and legs, and tied her up with rope. They were accused of taking her to a nearby milk barn, with blankets on the walls and a chain hooked to one wall, with a lock on the end.
They chained the woman’s leg to the wall and kept her captive until Dec. 22, according to the affidavit, when she was able to escape by breaking the lock with the use of tweezers and a drill bit.
Christensen told police that Baker was the “mastermind” behind the kidnapping, according to reports.
Tressa Sipes, 41, who also lives in the area, was charged as an accessory to second-degree kidnapping and with burglary. Authorities claimed that Sipes knew about the kidnapping and failed to report it.
Sipes and Christensen have both pleaded not guilty and their next court appearance is set for 9 a.m. Friday in Owyhee County.
IDOC is still investigating Baker’s death.