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Murder of Clifford Carden Jr. by Susan Baker profiled on Murder in the Heartland

Mugshots of Susan Baker and Thomas Bettis
Susan Baker and Thomas Bettis murdered Clifford Cardon and robbed his house, and stole his prescription drugs. Pic credit: Tennessee Dept. of Corrections

Murder in the Heartland is investigating the murder of Clifford ‘Roddy’ Carden Jr. in Sequatchie County in Tennessee in 2011.

His killer was drug addict Susan Baker, a former girlfriend, who killed him and stole his money, drugs, and belongings.

On February 3, 2011, the body of Clifford Carden was spotted by a passer-by floating in a river in Sequatchie County. The witness also noticed blood and drag marks on the ever bank.

Later that day, Carden’s burned-out car was discovered nearby in the woods. The detectives were able to identify Carden’s remains by finding his car and driver’s license. When the police went to his house, they found he had been robbed.

An autopsy revealed that Cardon had been killed by a single gunshot to his head, which had been fired at very close range.

Over the next few days, detectives aided by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation amassed a plethora of evidence against Susan Baker and her lover Thomas Bettis.

Baker and Bettis were spotted on surveillance footage arriving in Carden’s car at a motel. The pair stayed there for three nights, and the security camera’s spotted them carrying items from Carden’s home into their motel room.

On the evening of the murder, Bettis went to a nearby gas station to request a small container of petrol. When he returned later, the gas station clerk said his facial hair appeared singed, and he had blood on his clothes. Carden’s vehicle had been burned with a flammable accelerant.

Evidence mounted against Susan Baker and Thomas Bettis

The investigators also learned that Baker had sold a firearm to a local bar owner; tests performed on the gun revealed it had been the murder weapon.

At one point in the investigation, Bettis even approached the Sequatchie County Sheriff’s Office to say that Baker had killed Carden.

Baker knew Carden very well as they had previously been in a romantic relationship. She knew he was registered as disabled and that he took prescription drugs. At this time, Baker was a drug addict, and she had plotted with Bettis to steal Carden’s drugs and money.

On the day of the murder, Carden was giving Baker and Bettis a lift, they were arguing, and Carden was calling his ex insulting names. Baker would later recall that she snapped and shot him in the side of the head: “I snapped. I did. I snapped.”

The car rolled to a stop against a fence at the side of the road. Baker and Bettis dumped the body in the river and then proceeded to rob his house.

Both Baker and Bettis were subsequently charged with first-degree murder.

Bettis was sentenced to 25 years for murder plus 10 years for aggravated robbery. Baker was sentenced to life for the murder and received a further 15 years for aggravated robbery.

More from Murder in the Heartland

Follow the links to read about more killers in Murder in the Heartland.

Moe Gibbs was a correctional officer at Barnes County Jail in North Dakota who abused the inmates and had a history of sexual violence. In 2006, he also became a murderer when he killed his student neighbor, 22-year-old Mindy Morgenstein.

Afghan War veteran Michael Lapaglia entered the home of Jack Parkes just a few weeks before he was due to marry and shot him dead so he could ransack the home and steal jewelry.

Murder in the Heartland airs at 10/9c on Investigation Discovery.

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