Strangulation is what killed a prominent doctor whose body was found inside a Center City hotel room, and police are searching for a man who was last seen with him the night he died.
Staff at the Rodeway Inn at 1208 Walnut Street found Howard Baker, a 75-year-old psychiatrist who specialized in relationship problems, ADHD and spirituality, naked on the floor of his fifth-floor room with a belt tied tightly around his neck around 11 a.m. Monday, homicide detectives said.
Baker checked into the hotel around 3 p.m. Sunday after telling his wife he was heading out to watch the Eagles game.
Surveillance video shows Baker walking into the hotel with one man Sunday evening, police said. That man leaves about an hour later, followed by Baker an hour after that.
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Baker returned to the hotel with a second man later Sunday night. Detectives said that man, who is being considered a person of interest, was caught on video leaving the hotel with Baker's backpack. The doctor never emerged.
Detectives have spoken to the first visitor, but have yet to find the second man. They are not sure whether prostitution was involved or if Baker knew the men. Law enforcement sources at first said Baker may have been engaging in an asphyxiation sex act when he died.
The Philadelphia Medical Examiner ruled the man's death a result of strangulation following an autopsy Tuesday.
Baker's wallet was stolen in addition to his backpack, according to police. At this point, investigators are stopping short of classifying the doctor's death as murder because they have yet to learn the true circumstances behind what happened in the hotel room Sunday night.
Baker practiced psychiatry for 30 years and his office is two blocks from the hotel. He lived in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania with his wife. Police said the family had no idea he had checked into the hotel.