Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Stepmother Charged With Murder in Death of Zahra Baker

Elisa Baker was indicted today on a charge of second-degree murder in connection with the death of her disabled 10-year-old stepdaughter, Zahra Clare Baker, whose remains were found in various locations around North Carolina.

The indictment handed up by a grand jury in Catawba County, N.C., asserted that Baker had "a history and pattern of physical, verbal and psychological abuse of the victim," The Charlotte Observer reported, and that she had "desecrated the victim's body to hinder detection, investigation and prosecution of the offense."

In documents released today by the state's chief medical examiner, it was revealed that authorities still haven't found the girl's skull, but an autopsy had still been performed. Medical examiners say Zahra died from "undetermined homicidal violence."
Zahra, who had battled cancer and needed an artificial leg, was reported missing on Oct. 9 by her father, Adam Baker. Authorities believe the girl had been killed more than two weeks earlier.

The grand jurors cited a number of aggravating circumstances in the case, alleging that Elisa Baker "secreted the victim from family and others prior to and after the offense, delaying detection of the offense," the Hickory Daily Record reported.

The indictment also stated that Baker "took advantage of a position of trust or confidence, including a domestic relationship, to commit the offense."

Baker claimed that her husband had dismembered Zahra's body, a charge he has denied. According to The Associated Press, a search warrant released last month cited cell phone records indicating Elisa Baker was at locations where Zahra's remains were found.

In October, authorities arrested Adam Baker on charges unrelated to his daughter's disappearance. He posted $7,000 bond and was released.

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