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‘He may have been ambushed’: Detective narrowing down long list of suspects in 2016 murder

Blackstone Valley

PAWTUCKET, R.I. (WPRI) — Robert “Robby” Baptista told his family he was turning his life around.

But he ran out of time.

In November 2016, Robby was released from prison. The young Pawtucket man was charged in a truck with a few friends when gunshots were exchanged with a woman.

The incident led to a standoff in July 2016. SWAT entered and took Robby away in handcuffs right in front of news cameras.

After he was released, Robby started living in a friend’s apartment on Sisson Street.

“It seemed like he, part of it, was trying to get his life together,” Pawtucket Police Detective Sue Cormier said.

Robby’s uncle, Jay Baptista, agreed.

“He was trying to change his life,” Jay Baptista said.

On November 12, 2016, Robby was home alone in the apartment when more than one person came in.

He was shot in the chest and killed.

“He may have been ambushed,” Cormier said.

Cormier was the lead detective on the case in the moments after the shooting and is still investigating it now.

“It was an emotional scene,” she said. “You had friends that were gathering outside. They knew he was staying there. People took it upon themselves to notify family members before police, so it really intensified the scene.”

Robby’s uncle couldn’t figure out why someone wanted his nephew dead.

“There has to be some type of vendetta or something like that,” Jay Baptista said the day after Robby’s death. “I have no idea where it could come from. He’s not a bad kid. It’s really sad.”

Cormier said Robby had rubbed some people the wrong way.

“It made this case a little difficult because of some of his connections and some of the enemies he made,” she said.

In the three years since his death, Cormier said she has worked to narrow down the long list of suspects.

“They took someone’s life that quickly and they’re still walking around and trying to get away with it and move on with they’re lives and it’s just not right,” she said.

To bring in more leads, Cormier added the case to a deck of cold case playing cards. Each card highlights an unsolved homicide or missing person case in Rhode Island.

Baptista is the two of Diamonds.

“He was trying to better his life, and now he can’t,” Jay Baptista said.

“He has a family that loved him that they deserve answers and he deserves some justice,” Cormier added.

Anyone with information is asked to call 1-877-RI-SOLVE.

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