icon caret-left icon caret-right instagram pinterest linkedin facebook twitter goodreads question-circle facebook circle twitter circle linkedin circle instagram circle goodreads circle pinterest circle

Deadly Little Secrets: a minister, his mistress, and a heartless Texas murder

Do we really know the person we love? Are some lovers able to hide behind a facade? Or do we sometimes ignore what's right in front of us, unwilling or unable to accept the truth?

Faith runs deep in the Central Texas hills, and Kari Dulin was looking for a good Christian man to marry, one to raise a family with, one that would be the foundation of their home. At First Baptist Church in Waco, she met Matt Baker, a Baylor University student who talked of faith and devoting his life to God. He became a minister. Kari didn't know of his dark past, the secrets that would have revealed the man behind the mask. When other women made allegations against her husband, Kari defended him. The man she called her "sweet Matt," the man who claimed to have a divine mission, couldn't be a dangerous sexual predator.

They built a happy family with two beautiful little girls, Kensi and Kassidy. Then sadly in November 1998, Kassidy was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Their families rallied around, and the one-year-old fought hard, operations and chemo, horrible times, but she lived and returned home to the small parsonage. A month later, Matt stood over Kassidy's lifeless body shouting at Kari to call 911. The child was dead. But did she die of her illness or something far more sinister?

Her second daughter's death devastated Kari, but she still had Matt and Kensi, and Kari fought back. A third daughter was born, Grace, and Kari poured her love into her two little girls. They were a busy family, respected members of the community. Kari taught third grade and Matt became the pastor at Crossroads Baptist, a small country church.

In December 2005, Vanessa Bulls, a beautiful young single mother, the music minister's daughter, began attending services at Crossroads, sitting in the front row with her baby daughter, listening to Matt preach the word of God. Before long, Bulls was secretly visiting the Baker house while Kari and the girls were at school.

The call came in to 911 just after midnight on April 8, 2006. When police arrived, Kari was already dead. Matt claimed that his wife, still depressed over the loss of their daughter, had committed suicide.

That night the Hewitt, TX, police failed Kari Baker. Assuming a Baptist minister was telling the truth, they stood over the body of a 31-year-old mother and did only a cursory investigation. The local justice of the peace didn't even order an autopsy. Two days later, Kari's embalmed body was buried.

In the end it would be up to her family to raise the question police should have asked that first night: would the bubbly young teacher, a woman who cherished her children, end her own life? Kari's mother, two of her aunts and her cousin looked for answers and fought the system, insisting that Kari's death deserved to be investigated. The women came to be known as Waco's Charlie's Angels.

The fight would truly take a village, including a Texas Ranger, a former U.S. prosecutor, a retired undercover cop and a deputy U.S. marshal turned private investigator. They would do what the Hewitt police department had failed to do, stepping back and taking a clear, studied look at the evidence surrounding Kari Baker's mysterious death. What they saw wasn't a suicide but a murder.

In hindsight, there were many indications that Matt Baker wasn't the man he pretended to be, yet time and again the evidence was ignored and he was allowed to continue masquerading as a man of God. Deadly Little Secrets examines a troubling case that explores the age-old battle between good and evil.