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Zahra Clare Baker Justice or Vengeance

Updated on February 22, 2011

Elisa Baker was charged with second degree murder in the death of her step-daughter on February 21, 2011. Charlotte Observer's Tommy Tomlinson wrote a great article about justice in Zarha Baker's case which I include in a link below. Like everyone else, I am left with more questions than answers.

Because of my background, my questions may be somewhat different from other folks. Or maybe not.


Three people lived in that house: Adam Baker, his daughter Zahra and his wife, Elisa. One of them is dead, one is in jail and one is not. If Adam Baker was not involved in the murder or cover up, he has to have had his head so far up his posterior that it would have taken a jack hammer and a case of dynamite to dislodge it.

Adam Baker called 911 on October 9, 2010 to report his daughter missing. Elisa Baker has been in jail since the day after for writing a phony ransom note and other unrelated charges. Whatever horrors were visited upon Zahra before and after her death, probably happened before Adam Baker called 911. Where was he when she was killed? Where was he when her body was ripped apart and spread over at least three sites? How much did he cooperate with the investigation? When did he suspect his wife? Is he hiding anything?

"At this time, the state has no credible evidence to suggest that anyone other than Elisa Baker was involved in the murder of Zahra Clare Baker." Catawba County District Attorney.

Read that again and think about it.


The autopsy report says Zahra died from "undetermined homicidal violence.” I have no idea what that means. But the report also says that much of Zahra's body has not been recovered. Zahra's right arm, most of both legs and her skull are still missing.

Suppose Zahra was killed by blunt trauma to her head, it follows that Elisa Baker would not tell where that body part is. In my experience, criminals seldom intentionally help the police. Elisa Baker might well have told them where some of the body was and tried to throw the blame on Adam Baker in the process. One thing I know: These people never tell all the truth. Never.

The indictment says Elisa Baker had " a history and pattern of physical, verbal and psychological abuse of the victim." That's a clue, folks. Where did that information come from? Not DSS. Two different county departments on four different occasions ruled out child abuse. Again, there were three people in the house. I think Adam Baker is talking. If he's talking, maybe Elisa will too. Sometimes pitting one against the other is the only the way to get some of the truth.


People over both Carolinas have read about Zahra or seen news coverage. The story was national for a while and then international since her mother is from Australia. There are some people you may not think about much.

Hickory Police Chief Tom Adkins calls the investigative unit working this case "Team Zahra." I guarantee you those guys are hurting. Cops learn to compartmentalize their experiences. They have to in order to survive the things they do and are exposed to. But they are still human. They have daughters, sons and grandkids. They look at the same photograph of a smiling Zahra we see, but they have to work the case, collect the evidence, talk to the principals and maintain their professionalism. They have to get the job done.

Imagine if you were one of the DSS workers on this case. Overworked, underpaid you sit in a home with Adam, Elisa and Zahra Baker. Maybe you suspect something is wrong, but you can't prove it. The story of the little girl fighting cancer after losing a leg and some of her hearing is horrifying enough. Surely, these people would cause her no further harm you think.

You move on to the next case and when Zahra turns up missing you relive the interviews over and over ...... and over again. You look for the clue you missed. The evidence that must have been there.

Then you go out and work the next case and pray it never happens again.

There is a cost.


No one can hurt Zahra anymore.

But my final question is about justice. Is that what we truly want? I'm not so sure. Justice may be blind, but it's also cold and impersonal. It gets dealt out quietly in a courtroom by folks dressed up in their Sunday best and spouting talk about legalities, criminal records, admissions of guilt and evidence. It's all very proper and tidy.

Vengeance, on the other hand is very personal. In Hollywood it's dealt out by one man on a pier in a quarry, down to his last bullet. Vengeance pretends to give Evil Incarnate a chance, then drops the hammer on the most powerful handgun in the world. Evil is literally blasted into the abyss.

Justice or Vengeance?

Neither one can make this right, can it?

I'd settle for the truth.


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    • resspenser profile imageAUTHOR

      Ronnie Sowell 

      7 years ago from South Carolina


      I was a cop for a little over 25 years and then spent a couple of years as a PI. I did not work this particular case and all I know about it is what I read in the paper.

      Something about Zahra's picture has haunted me since the first time I saw it and that is the reason for the two hubs.

      Thanks for taking the time to read this one. Sometimes, Evil is not lurking outside....

    • Storytellersrus profile image


      7 years ago from Stepping past clutter

      resspenser, first, let me say that the facts you reveal in this hub are gruesome. No little girl deserves such parents- either one. I am sad for your loss. I know you care.

      Second, I think the way you broke down this tragedy is fascinating. I did not know you were a former PI. I guess I read your bio long ago and have forgotten. I had not heard of this case until now, so I can separate out the horror and read your analysis as if you were writing a novel. Well, I don't read crime novels, unless it is Grisham and those I read minimally. However, the way you think... that, as I said, is fascinating! Do you write crime novels? You would be good at it, I think.

      Bottom line, again I am sorry for your loss, resspenser. I agree it must be terrible to be assigned this case and go home every night to your own beloved family.

    • resspenser profile imageAUTHOR

      Ronnie Sowell 

      7 years ago from South Carolina

      Thanks for reading, Lynda. Zahra was a special little girl.

    • lmmartin profile image


      7 years ago from Alberta and Florida

      I am unfamiliar with this case, but you know where I stand when it comes to child protection. We may never know, and poor Zahra will go down in the annals of history as one more victim of child abuse. God only knows how many. Lynda

    • resspenser profile imageAUTHOR

      Ronnie Sowell 

      7 years ago from South Carolina


      That is an excellent question! I think the cancer was legit because there was some sort of charity event where Zahra got hearing aids and a photo was taken there. Read Tommy's article. It's well done and sets the right tone, I think.

      Will Starr,

      Spoken like a true cowboy! I'm with you!!!!

    • WillStarr profile image


      7 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      I am now of the opinion that any adult who violates the trust that a child must place in the adults of the world ought to either be imprisoned for life or excecuted.

    • rachellrobinson profile image

      Rachel Woodruff 

      7 years ago from Southwest Missouri

      This was such a sad story, at least Zahra is at peace finally. Someone asked me if I believed the little girl really had cancer or if the hearing loss and loss of a leg could have been from abuse. Is there proof (Doctors etc) that say she had cancer? Such a sad story. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.



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