Custom Search

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Zahra Baker Raped & Murdered! N.C. DSS Still To Blame!

Man Denies Rape Allegation In Zahra Baker Case

Search warrants that were issued in connection with the Zahra Baker case have revealed startling new information about the investigation.

The warrants were unsealed by a judge late Tuesday afternoon. The 11 warrants were issued in October; they include eight warrants for the Baker’s Hickory home and three warrants to access social media accounts owned by Zahra’s stepmother, Elisa Baker.

In total, the documents provide 121 pages of new details into the investigation.

Search Warrant for Baker home in Hickory.

According to the documents, the Burke County Sheriff’s Office investigated a claim that Zahra Baker had been killed by one or two men who had raped her at a house in Hildebran. The men--cousins--are related to Baker's ex-husband. The tipster alleged that Zahra had been left at the home, and when her mother returned, the little girl had blood on her private area and legs.

According to the search warrants, one of the men had a relationship with Elisa Baker.

Lewis James Young, one of the two men, tells NewsChannel 36 that, to his knowledge, Zahra Baker, has never been in his house. He says he was questioned for ten hours about the allegation and passed a lie detector test.

When police searched the Burke County home, the warrants indicate a mattress with a dark stain was discovered. Young said, "I had gotten really drunk and urinated on it."

Police did not remove the mattress.

Young said his brief interactions with Zahra at Christmas last year were always good. "She was a very respectful little girl...always happy."

He says he offered his help to the investigators who questioned him. "I told them, I said, 'Guys, whatever I can think of--if I can think of anything else--I'll let you know. I'll help you in any way I can.'"

A woman who answered Young's cousin's phone hung up when NewsChannel 36 called for comment. Neither man has been arrested. A source close to the investigation tells NewsChannel 36 police do not put much stock in the allegation.

Most of the detail in the warrants concerns searching police made of the Baker’s home in Hickory. There, warrants say, investigators removed drain pipes and traps looking for blood. They also removed sections of the wall where they believe there was blood evidence.

The warrants detail the locations Elisa Baker directed them to search. They include a dumpster at an apartment complex in Hickory where Elisa Baker told investigators she and Adam had ditched Zahra's prosthetic leg, a dumpster at an apartment complex in Granite Falls where Elisa allegedly said they'd left Zahra's mattress, and a dumpster in Hudson where Baker's lawyer told police a car cover and bed comforter used to transport Zahra's body parts had been dumped.

According to the warrants, Baker also communicated that latex gloves stored in their home in Hickory had been used to dismember Zahra's body.

One warrant reveals that Elisa Baker submitted to a lie detector test and when asked if she had harmed Zahra or knew anyone who did, her answers were said to be deceptive.

DSS Tries To Duck Responsibility For The Death Of Zahra Baker & Other Children It Could Have Saved

From Selena Childs, project director for the N.C. Child Welfare Workforce Collaborative Project at the UNC Chapel Hill School of Social Work and former executive director of the N.C. Child Fatality Task Force:

When I hear about a child's death, my chest tightens and my stomach clenches. I hold my children close and give thanks for their safety. I tear up thinking about the fear and pain the child might have experienced and think about loved ones left behind, who are hurting beyond my comprehension. When I learn that the Department of Social Services was involved with the family, my compassion extends to the workers and agency leaders who I know are experiencing a heartfelt loss themselves.

As the public tries to make sense of an inconceivable loss, inevitably blame is sought. As a parent I understand that, because when I hear of a child death I am desperate to find a reason that helps me do away with the anxiety I experience as I hope nothing bad will ever happen to my children. And there is no better target for blame when a child dies than the social service agency charged with protecting children, or so the public seems to believe. I understand that reaction, and I might share it if I didn't know what Child Protective Services workers actually do. If I only knew the negative stereotypes of social workers from TV, I would be on the front lines of attack - "Where were you? Why didn't you do more to prevent this tragedy?"

But I know better. About 80 percent of the families that Child Protective Services/DSS workers serve are families who are unable to meet some of their kids' basic needs. In those cases CPS workers assess the family's needs and work with the family to connect them to resources. Most of those families are helped to help themselves and most importantly, helped to take care of their kids on their own. In the other 20 percent, the caretakers are unable to keep their children safe and may be the source of physical/sexual/emotional abuse. In those instances, CPS workers have the charge and the authority to remove children from those unsafe situations and place them in a safe home.

Most of the time the system works. Most of the time kids are protected. Most of the time the good work of CPS goes unnoticed, unheralded, un-reported in the news. But when a child is a victim of a violent crime and CPS has a history with the family, CPS is blamed, almost as if the workers and agency had committed the crime themselves.

On behalf of the families and children who have been well-served by DSS/CPS, I suggest that the public would benefit if the media and DSS partnered to paint a more complete picture. Reporters might attend a Child and Family Team meeting; shadow a DSS director through the day; and talk to the kids and parents who are better off as a result of the service they received.

I understand the temptation to blame DSS when a child dies - the alternative, that we as a society have failed, is almost too big to comprehend. If there's a worker or agency to blame, then you and I can worry less that it could be us who someday experiences such a devastating loss. But I know better. And you, the public, should have accurate information about the good work of our departments of social services so you know better, too.

Hundreds Pack Town Square For Zahra's Birthday

Hundreds of people packed Hickory's Union Square Tuesday evening to remember Zahra Baker on what would have been her 11th birthday.

Though police now say Zahra is dead, the birth date of the once-missing child was an opportunity for the strangers who've been touched by the story of her disapperance to celebrate her life. Many people traveled from miles--even states--away to light candles in Zahra's memory at a vigil in central downtown Hickory.

"My wife and I just felt we had to be here," said Tom Trinchera, who came from Johnson City, Tennessee.

Hickory's mayor Rudy White spoke, as well as Hickory Police Chief Tom Adkins.

"39 days ago, most of us did not know Zahra Baker, but in this past month, we have fallen in love with her and we are better people because of it," Chief Adkins said. He relayed stories he's heard from Zahra's friends and family during the investigation into her death. "Nothing would slow her down. She wanted no pity. She wanted to be like every other child."

"As you pass that flame on to your neighbor," explained Adrienne Opdyke, of the Catawba County Children's Protection Council, as participants lit candles, "Promise not to forget Zahra's story and promise to make a difference in the lives of the children that you know."

Zahra's stepmother's sister, April Fairchild, was at the vigil. She says her rocky relationship with her sister kept her from knowing Zahra well, but she describes this time as "painful" for her family.

"All we have ever wanted is just closure," she said. She said her sister Elisa, suspected but not charged in Zahra's disappearance, deserves punishment if its due, but "Adam Baker deserves to be sitting right beside of her...I just pray that just like everything else, Hickory Police Department, all of the law enforcement, all of the people who have helped--shed tears--about this case, does not let this fall through the cracks like she fell through the cracks with DSS."

D.A. Won't Rush For An Arrest In Zahra Baker Case

On what would have been her 11th birthday there are cards, toys and flowers outside the home in Hickory where Zahra Baker lived. But there also some new banners and signs hung on the house, signs with an angry tone.

One calls for justice for her father Adam Baker and her stepmother, Elisa Baker.

Another sign demands to know why the girl was "thrown out like the trash."

District Attorney James Gaither, who is handling the Investigation, said in a lengthy interview Tuesday that he will not pressure Police investigators to make an arrest.

"It is not my responsibility to push them or make something happen when the investigation is ongoing," Gaither said.

Gaither says he understands the growing frustration over what happened to the 10-year old girl who so many feel they have come to know and wish they could have helped.

Certainly the recovery of the remains of Zahra Baker was a critical part of the investigation but it doesn't mean that investigation is complete or that we are ready at this point to go forward with charges.

Gaither also raised questions about Lisa Dubbs, the lawyer who has been appointed to represent Elisa Baker if she is charged with murder. Gaither questioned why Dubbs and a private investigator working for her went out and picked up important physical evidence in the case.

Dubbs told NewsChannel 36 that Gaither should know that the defense always has the right to look for evidence. She says that in this case the unspecified item was brought to Gaither himself to prove that Elisa Baker would cooperate truthfully.

Gaither says that is a matter he will continue to look into.

"I believe there are some reasonable minds that differ on whether that is an appropriate function of defense council," said Gaither.

Zahra Baker's Stepmom Gave Explicit Details In Death

Zahra Baker's body was dismembered and the remains hidden across several rural locations, a court document said for the first time Monday, days after police said that the 10-year-old cancer survivor is dead.

The court filing is a motion by Zahra's stepmother, Elisa Baker, asking the court to reduce her $65,000 bond for obstruction of justice. The motion, filed Monday afternoon in Superior Court, provides specific and at times grisly details of what Elisa Baker says happened to the young girl's body.

The document doesn't indicate how Zahra died or who may be responsible, but the motion argues that Baker's bond should be reduced because of her extensive and continuing cooperation.

"The only credible evidence released to the public by law enforcement related to this case is evidence that was collected after Elisa Baker told law enforcement where to look and what to look for," the motion says.

Elisa Baker's attorneys met with her for two hours Monday, but declined to speak with reporters. They couldn't be reached for comment Monday night.

It wasn't clear Monday why Elisa Baker, in admitted some knowledge of Zahra's death, could be asking for a lower bond. Police haven't given a motive in the case.

Speculation has centered around Elisa and Adam Baker, Zahra's father, since shortly after the girl was reported missing on Oct. 9.

A family member interviewed by CNN's Nancy Grace described talking with Elisa Baker in jail.

"As we talked with her, she cried over missing Zahra and how her husband has left her to take all the blame for what has happened when he played a big part in this terrible situation," the cousin said in the interview. The cousin spoke on condition of anonymity because of death threats the family has received.

The owner of a crime memorabilia website is selling two letters he claims he received from Elisa Baker saying her stepdaughter, Zahra, is dead, and that her husband did something "horrifying" to the girl after her death.

"We didn't really kill her but what he did after the fact is kinda horrifying," says one of the letters Eric Gein claims he got from Elisa Baker, who is in jail. "Makes me scared of him."

In Monday's motion, they say she has been instrumental in the investigation into the death of the girl who moved to the United States from Australia in 2009, after her father Adam married Elisa Baker.

Zahra Baker, who was hearing-impaired and walked with the help of a prosthesis after losing her left leg to cancer, was reported missing by her father in a call to police.

On Friday, after more than a month of investigating, police said they had credible evidence that Zahra was dead, and had unearthed remains of a child they believe was Zahra.

Both Adam and Elisa Baker have denied any wrongdoing in the case. Elisa Baker was arrested on Oct. 10 on unrelated charges, then charged with obstruction of justice on Oct. 12 after investigators say she admitted writing a bogus ransom note.

According to Monday's motion to reduce bond, Elisa Baker told her attorneys on Oct. 22 that she had information about the disappearance and death of Zahra Baker.

Elisa Baker's defense attorneys notified police the next morning, indicating that Baker was willing to cooperate with investigators. But, they said, investigators had to move fast because weather could destroy evidence, according to the document.

Investigators were told that Zahra Baker was deceased, that her body had been dismembered and that body parts would be discovered at different sites. The defense team suggested that Baker needed to be present because of the remote locations of the sites.

Baker went out with law enforcement agents to three sites on Oct. 25, according to the court document. At each site, she described what would be found there and told officers where to look.

At one point, she was photographed by television news cameras inside a red SUV being driven by law enforcement agents.

The document says officers recovered the gel liner of the prosthetic leg near Christie Road in Hudson because of Baker. The site is near where Elisa Baker used to live.

Investigators also found evidence at two other sites because of Baker, the document says: a bone later identified as Zahra Baker's at the Christie Road site and remains believed to be those of Zahra Baker at another Caldwell County location along Dudley Shoals Road.

The document says Baker also directed investigators to other sites where possible evidence was located, including the dumpster where Zahra's mattress was discarded and undisclosed items found at the family's home.

Baker has continued to cooperate with authorities, the motion says. She was still in Catawba County jail Monday night. It was unclear Monday evening when a judge is expected to rule on the motion.

View Larger Map

Sources: McClatchy Newspapers, WCNC, Google Maps

No comments: