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Zahra Baker: Missing Girl's Remains Identified

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By Tanya Roth, Esq. on November 15, 2010 6:16 AM

The remains of 10-year-old Zahra Baker have been found and identified by police in Hickory, North Carolina. The little girl was reported missing by her father and step-mother on October 9, although it was reported that no one outside the family had seen Zahra since September 25. The police say they have found enough physical evidence to confirm the remains found in an area of Caldwell County, N.C., were those of the missing girl.

Zahra had a difficult life, surviving bone cancer and a step-mother who allegedly abused her, reports ABC News. Earlier in the month, letters surfaced that are supposed to be from Zahra's step-mother, Elisa Baker. As discussed in a previous post, the letters claim that neither she nor Zahra's father, Adam, killed the girl, but that he did something "horrifying" after the girl was dead, reports ABC.

Elisa Baker was charged with obstruction of justice after police said she admitted writing a phony ransom note before calling in a missing persons report, writes ABC. Authorities say she has been cooperating with the search for Zahra.

Now that the death of the victim appears to be confirmed, a homicide case can more easily proceed. The actual death of the victim is an element that must be proven in a case against a defendant for murder. Circumstantial evidence can be used if a body is never located or identified, but those cases can be much harder to win. However, it should be remembered that circumstantial evidence is just as valid as first-hand evidence such as DNA samples or eye-witness testimony.

After the announcement of the find at a press conference, Police Chief Tom Adkins made one other statement. "This case isn't over and we won't rest until we have all the information we need to bring the people to justice who hurt Zahra."

Tuesday, Nov. 16, would have been Zahra's 11th birthday.

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