Police: Skull found last year is that of Zahra Baker

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HICKORY, N.C. - State investigators confirmed a skull found last April in Caldwell County is that of 10-year-old Zahra Baker.

For much of Thursday afternoon, Eyewitness News saw people stopping by the memorial site for Zahra in Caldwell County. They said they are glad there may be some closure in the case, but still have questions about how the girl died.

A hunter discovered the skull in an area north of Lenoir last April.  Ten months later, DNA testing showed the skull was Zahra’s. 

Police Chief Tom Adkins led the investigation into Zahra’s death and spoke about the latest developments.

“It reminds us of the tragedy that fell on Zahra but also brings us closure to know that she is finally home,” he said.

Police believe Zahra's stepmother, Elisa Baker, murdered her in September 2010 at the family’s home in Hickory, which is still boarded up today. Her remains were scattered at three locations in Caldwell County. 

Investigators said there were no signs of trauma on Zahra's skull, leaving open the question of how she died.

"I would love to know how she was killed,” community member Jake Icenhour said. “I guess it doesn't matter knowing it was her skull. Brings some closure, but there is still some questions."

Since her death, the community came together to build the Zahra park in Hickory to remember the 10-year-old. Debbie Gautreau took her children there Thursday and said the case has changed people who followed it.

"You always heard about it, and it made you hold your kids a little bit tighter,” she said.

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