Nob Hill slaying may be rooted in act of charity 

A slain Nob Hill artist was only trying to help his former co-worker through some hard times. But Jack Baker may have let a killer into his apartment.

Waheed Kesmatyer, 24, is suspected in Baker’s murder. Police found the man “brutally stabbed, strangled and beaten,” homicide Lt. Lea Miletello said Friday.

Baker, a 67-year-old window display designer at Macy’s in San Rafael, was found deceased inside his apartment at 1035 Bush St. on Feb. 11. His neighbor Mason Bowling last saw Baker alive Feb. 4.

There was no sexual relationship between Kesmatyer and Baker, who was gay, Bowling said. Baker had been letting Kesmatyer stay in his apartment since October.

“Jack was kind enough to say, ‘Stay with me until you get back on your feet,’” Bowling said. “That’s just the type of guy Jack was.”

San Rafael police arrested Kesmatyer on Feb. 10, one day before police found Baker’s body. He was booked on suspicion of disorderly conduct, battery, possession of narcotics and tampering with a vehicle, according to the Marin County Sheriff’s Department. He was also violating his probation on an earlier charge in Marin County of drug possession and criminal threats.

It is unclear when San Francisco police learned Kesmatyer was being held in Marin County. Homicide detectives were treating him as a suspect the same day they found the body, showing his picture to tenants in the Nob Hill apartment complex, but it wasn’t until a week later that a homicide warrant was issued.

Kesmatyer will be extradited to San Francisco, where prosecutors will make a decision whether to prosecute him on homicide charges this week.

Reached at her home in Hercules, Kesmatyer’s mother, Mena, said that police had been to her home and confiscated her son’s car. He was a student, she said, and had also sought psychological help. Police told her nothing about motive or proof.

“I prayed all night,” she said. “I hope to God. I don’t know if they have proof. If they do, I want to know why he did this.”

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Brent Begin

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