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What Happened to Zahra Clare Baker?

Updated on February 22, 2011

If you’re looking for answers, you came to the wrong place. I often feel compelled to write a hub about a particular thing, but never quite like this.

It’s Friday night and I'm sitting at Carolina Place Mall in the children’s play area watching my granddaughter play. I am thinking about my two other granddaughters who live in Hickory, NC and I can’t get the photo of a disabled 10 year old girl from there out of my head.

Zahra Clare Baker’s picture has haunted me since I first noticed it on TV a few days ago. I was not paying much attention the first time I saw it and thought that the story was about the little girl beating bone cancer and getting hearing aids. Both those news items were true but the story was about much more. Zahra has been missing now for at least 6 days and maybe much longer.

I watched the Hickory Police Chief struggle with his emotions when he cancelled the Amber alert and declared the case a homicide. I read a story online about the police searching a landscaping company where a wood chipper is located. Zahra’s father works there. I found out that the stepmother wrote a ransom note asking for a million dollars and the police found it. I watched a live shot from a news helicopter hovering over a small pond that was being drained in search of the body. Today I saw a picture of police carrying a mattress out of the home for forensic tests. Stories of abuse have surfaced and no one outside the immediate family have seen the girl in about a month.

So far Zahra has not been found.

We can all pray that Zahra turns up somewhere safe, but I don’t think that is going to be the case. We may never know what happened, but something did.

How can something as inconceivable as this happen? Do we all carry within us the potential for this kind of evil?

I have come to the conclusion that none of us is all good or all bad, so does a person with some darkness suddenly snap and become a monster? I realize that I have some of that darkness in me. If someone tried to hurt one of mine I would happily set it free. Would you?

Red and yellow, black and white, the kids played together at the mall and they all had one thing in common. They all had parents or grandparents there watching over them. I watched the kids and their guardians and thought about Zahra.

I overheard a huge black guy tell his daughter he would wait on her, that he would follow her to the rest room and then they would go together to the next shop. He was watching over her.

Who watched over little Zahra?


I wrote this hub almost three months ago. Today I was at Chick-fil-et with Maddie and picked up the paper. The story I read concerned search warrant information the step-mother had given the police in the past. She says Zahra died of her illness and that her husband dismembered and threw away body parts. Cell phone records, being illegally in the US, potential sexual abuse and  chainsaws were mentioned in the article.

Heaven help us all.

Tonight I kept Maddie until time for her to go home because her parents were at meetings. I lay down with her and watched her getting sleepy. That article kept running through my mind.

She asked me what I was thinking about and of course I lied. Instead of talking about Zahara I  told her how much I enjoyed my day with her and how much fun it was to watch her go to sleep.

"You're a lucky man, Pop" she said. Then she simply rolled over never knowing how wise those words truly are.

I am a lucky man.


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    • resspenser profile imageAUTHOR

      Ronnie Sowell 

      6 years ago from South Carolina

      Appreciate the comment, Tammy. Thanks for reading!

    • tammyswallow profile image


      6 years ago from North Carolina

      Thanks for writing that. It breaks my heart even now. They have made a wonderful play ground in her honor and I think about her every time I pass by.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Glad to hear that.

    • resspenser profile imageAUTHOR

      Ronnie Sowell 

      7 years ago from South Carolina

      Thanks for reading, Ghost. They just dedicated a playground in her name in Hickory.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I wasn't up on the Zahra Clare Baker part until I read this. Heaven help us all indeed.

    • resspenser profile imageAUTHOR

      Ronnie Sowell 

      7 years ago from South Carolina

      I have a short story I'm editing to be posted soon.. No tissues will be needed, I promise!

      This case has bothered me for months. It still does.

      Thanks for reading it, Tammy.

    • profile image

      Tammy Lochmann 

      7 years ago

      Hi just dropped in to say hi and see what you are up to. Heart wrenching article. Needed the tissues AGAIN. Take care! Tammy

    • OmNaser profile image


      8 years ago from kuwait

      This is so sad her photos were haunting me too . My questions :what was her biological mother doing? Why would she leave her daughter with her father and the stepmother? and why would they keep zahra and treat her for cancer if they were going to kill her anyway? What happened to Zahra???? and why step mothers are always to blame? Why kill her? I am so relieved they found her body now shes in heaven away from Evil.

      From Kuwait

    • resspenser profile imageAUTHOR

      Ronnie Sowell 

      8 years ago from South Carolina

      The picture haunts me as well as her story. Thanks for reading and caring.

    • Silva Hayes profile image

      Silva Hayes 

      8 years ago from Spicewood, Texas

      Whoever did this horrific crime against Zahra Baker committed the crime against us all. Since Zahra is beyond anyone's help now, I can only hope that justice is served. Please don't let the stepmom be declared mentally unfit to stand trial and then be released back into society in a year or two. No matter which one did the actual murder and dismemberment, they both are guilty and both should pay. With our broken justice system, we may pass one of them on the street in a few years. I cannot get that little girl's picture out of my mind; she put up such a good front in public when she must have suffered unspeakable abuse at home.

    • resspenser profile imageAUTHOR

      Ronnie Sowell 

      8 years ago from South Carolina

      Thanks, rachellrobinson. I appreciate your hub on this story.

    • rachellrobinson profile image

      Rachel Woodruff 

      8 years ago from Southwest Missouri

      Such a sad hub. Makes you wonder why there is such evil in the world that someone couldn't have been looking out for this little angel.

    • attemptedhumour profile image


      8 years ago from Australia

      Some people cross that terrible line, you more than anyone should experience how a broken home, or lack of loving care, can create a lack of empathy. Something drove this horrid crime and decent people will always be appalled by it. Cheers and i will be looking forward to more of your humourous tales from your earlier days.

    • resspenser profile imageAUTHOR

      Ronnie Sowell 

      8 years ago from South Carolina

      Thanks PegCole17. She has not been found yet.

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 

      8 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      What a beautiful little child. I can see why your heart went out to this one - and to all the sweet ones that are lost or victimized. Sad, so very sad.

    • resspenser profile imageAUTHOR

      Ronnie Sowell 

      8 years ago from South Carolina


      You're right, tragedy abounds. Somehow this little girl's picture bothered me more than others I have seen. Maybe it was her having lost a leg and some of her hearing because of the cancer. I don't know. I wish they would find her safe, but the chances of that are slim.

      Thanks for reading & commenting.

    • Petra Vlah profile image

      Petra Vlah 

      8 years ago from Los Angeles

      There are tragic events all over the media, but none are more heart breaking than the ones that involve innocent children, abused and neglected children. The brutality of it all, the senseless violence and the victimization of children is one of the crimes hyumanity should take responsability for and do something about it

      Turning a blind eye or getting our ears plugged because is too painful or because we feel hopeless, it being part of the problem rather than part of the solution

    • resspenser profile imageAUTHOR

      Ronnie Sowell 

      8 years ago from South Carolina

      Thanks, Lynda. I knew you had the facts at hand on child abuse and I appreciate you adding them. Did you watch the video by Martina McBride? Awesome!

    • lmmartin profile image


      8 years ago from Alberta and Florida

      Heart wrenching isn't it? There are many children with no one to watch over them, many children who suffer at the hands of those that should be doing the watching. A sad truth and not just of our times, contrary to popular belief. I often hear "what kind of a world have we made?" or "things are so different from when we were young." In truth, the only difference is that the knowledge is public. Children disappeared, were abused, were bought and sold as slaves, were raped, killed since the beginning of time... You ask do we all have the seeds of such actions in us and I think no. You either see children as our responsibility to care for, or as prey. That's my opinion and one developed over a life time of work in child protection. As you say, we may never know what happened to this little girl, but understand the scope of child abuse -- 1 in 3 homes at least. And sex abuse hits 7/10 girls and 4/10 boys. Now, look at those kids playing in the mall -- don't look quite the same, do they?

      And p.s. -- be careful hanging about playgrounds in case you're mistaken for a 'dirty old man'.


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