By: Kristen Hegel
“There are no words to describe the hate I have for you,” Adam Baker told his wife who pleaded guilty to his daughter’s murder. Elisa Baker, Zahra’s stepmother, reached a plea agreement with prosecutors on Thursday, September 15 to the murder of 10-year-old Zahra Baker, a cancer survivor with a prosthetic leg and impaired hearing. Elisa was charged with second-degree murder, obstruction of justice and other charges not related to the murder.
Zahra’s disappearance from her hometown of Hickory,NC last October gained international coverage. Adam Baker and Elisa Baker reported her missing and claimed she had been kidnapped after discovering a ransom note, but authorities traced the ransom note back to the stepmother. Police suspected Adam and Elisa were involved, but it soon became apparent that Elisa was guilty.
In exchange for a lesser punishment, Elisa agreed to a plea deal. She led authorities to the remains of Zahra with the promise of not being charged with first-degree murder. The remains of her body were dismembered and dumped at three different sites. Her prosthetic leg was found at one of the sites, but not all of her bones were recovered. Her skull, which holds the clue to her cause of death, has not yet been found.
Elisa now faces up to 18 years in prison. “It’s pretty sad when you get less than 20 years for taking a girl’s life,” Adam said. “Zahra will never get to go to high school, never have a real boyfriend, never get married and never have children.” Zahra’s biological mother, Emily Dietrich, flew in fromAustraliato attend the trial. “What I truly want to see is Zahra be given the respect she deserves. My only hope now is that she is in a place where she never feels pain, in a place where she can feel my love,” Dietrich said.
Though some are disappointed in the fact that Elisa will walk free in less than 20 years, closure has finally come to a family and a community. “This is the case that will haunt this community until the time I take to a rocking chair and leave this place,” Judge Timothy Kincaid, the judge in the Baker case, said. “What kind of person would take the life of an innocent child?” The reason behind the murder still remains a question.