Local News

Police: Remains of missing Hickory girl found

Posted November 12, 2010

— Hickory police said Friday afternoon that they have recovered enough physical evidence to conclude that Zahra Baker, 10, is dead.

"I've been dreading the moment since early on in this investigation," said Hickory Police Chief Tom Adkins.

The girl's father and stepmother reported her missing from their Hickory home on Oct. 9, but police said they doubt the couple's story. Zahra's mother, who lives in Australia, traveled to North Carolina this week to provide DNA to help in identifying any remains found.

Zahra had bone cancer and walked using a prosthetic leg, which searchers found more than a week ago. Other human remains – consistent with a child – were located Wednesday near Dudley Shoals Drive in Caldwell County and were sent to the Office of the State Medical Examiner, police said. 

Adkins said a bone found by investigators matched DNA found on Zahra's personal effects from the home where she lived with her father and stepmother.

Zahra Claire Baker, 10 Remains of missing Hickory girl found

Until the State Bureau of Investigation completes a DNA profile of Zahra, an official conclusion can not be reached, Adkins said.

Officials said that Zahra's stepmother, Elisa Baker, suggested crews look near Dudley Shoals Drive. Police have charged Elisa Baker with obstruction of justice in the case and have said she admitted to writing a bogus ransom note.

Zahra's father, Adam Baker, 33, met with police for about an hour Thursday, along with his attorney. Adam Baker was arrested Oct. 25 on charges unrelated to Zahra's disappearance. He has since been released on bond.

"Investigators, agents, officers and staff who worked on this case are devastated that they were not able to find Zahra alive and bring her home safely," Adkins said.

Update: The search for Zahra Baker Update: The search for Zahra Baker

The news about Zahra hit the community hard.

Connelly Springs Resident Angela Cates said she couldn't understand how anyone could hurt a child who had suffered as much as Zahra. 

"I hope she didn't suffer for what she had to go through," said Kathy Estes of Catawba County.

The story also attracted the attention of Australian media, who were in Hickory on Friday.  

Earlier Friday, Zahra's mother, Emily Dietrich, read a letter written by another child and left at a memorial site outside the home where Zahra lived with her father and stepmother. 

"You are probably with the angels in heaven. I know God is taking great care of you," the letter stated. 

Dietrich said she suffered post-natal depression after Zahra's birth, and gave custody to her father. She said she did not know her daughter had moved to the United States until three days before she went missing.

The Children Protection Council of Catawba County had planned a candlelight vigil on Tuesday, which would have been Zahra’s 11th birthday.

129 Comments

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  • lil157 Nov 12, 7:59 p.m.

    I do not normally believe in capital punishment except in this case!!!What that child have to experiance in her few short years was bad enough. But what those who were supposed to care about her and love and protect her did! They do not need to breath the same air the rest of us do!!!

  • bradcooperisinnocent Nov 12, 7:56 p.m.

    @ranquick, thank you mr. obvious.

  • ranquick Nov 12, 7:44 p.m.

    Does anyone else think the same thing I am thinking, look hard at the step mom and dad!!!!!

  • Pseudonym Nov 12, 7:31 p.m.

    It's sad that these monsters couldn't keep themselves from killing her.

    What's even sadder and more pathetic is the response of those calling for revival of he Eugenics Board. These monsters would have done this to anybody--not just Zahra.

  • caryzoo Nov 12, 7:28 p.m.

    howdiditgettothis...wow...someone who never had postpartum depression. Someone needs to remove your fingers (hit...stop typing yourself into a hole). Anyone who has been diagnosed as depressed would disagree. 10 years is indeed a long time for the bio mom. If one has very limited financial resources, it truly is virtually impossible to find someone. Many of the records she would need are for a minor and not available through any search. Shame on you for your narrow mindedness and arrogance.

  • itsmyownopinion Nov 12, 7:28 p.m.

    "Ahh...my own daughter is in a therapeutic foster setting because of violence at home and criminal activity. Unfortunately, the systems idea of therapeutic was 5 homes in about 3 weeks. My daughter has become bitter, and distrustful of everyone. She was optimistic and bubbly, no more. Our system damages more children than it helps."
    caryzoo

    Who was being violent, and what type of criminal activity?

  • geosol Nov 12, 7:17 p.m.

    So sorry to read about this tragedy. I hope justice is served and that she did not die in vain. Sounds like she's an angel now.

  • howdiditgettothis Nov 12, 7:13 p.m.

    good grief. how could her own mother not know her whereabouts? Post partum depression doesn't hand your child over and forget about her for TEN years.

    Also - what kind of loser is the father to travel halfway across the world to live with a woman he met on the internet?

    These people need to be sterilized.

    And the comment that "our system" damages more children than it helps ought to have her head examined. She's turned her child over b/c SHE couldn't provide a safe home (duh - parent's job) and is blaming the system for her daughters' problems.

    People - YOU chose to have the kids. Be responsible enough to take care of them or get sterilized permanently!

  • doubletrouble Nov 12, 7:06 p.m.

    One can see how this has taken it's toll on the LE working this case. More often than not, they get involved when things happen far too late. I'm glad they found her, and may she rest in peace now. I'd say a prayer every nite, in her behalf and surely she walks with the angels now. It's so sad, that DSS failed her, neighbors/kin failed her, and most of all her parents failed her. Maybe we all, can made a pledge to ourselves and Zahra, to report abuse when we suspect it, instead of letting it slide by, thinking such is not our business. I hope whoever did this to this little girl, gets the max the law allows.

  • bombayrunner Nov 12, 6:45 p.m.

    luv2surffish2 - yep, agree

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