The more I read about the case of 10-year-old Caldwell County girl Zahra Baker, the more woefully saddened I become.
The young girl, who is a bone cancer survivor and wears a prosthetic leg, is missing and believed to be dead. She was reported missing in early October by her father Adam Baker and stepmother Elisa Baker. They claimed that Zahra had disappeared from their home and a $1 million ransom note had been left. The stepmother later admitted that she falsified the ransom note, and was arrested for felony obstruction of justice. Since the time Zahra was reported missing, not only is her stepmother in jail, but her father has moved out of the family home after learning of his wife's deceit. Subsequently, he has also been arrested on unrelated charges.
At press time, police have recovered what they believe is Zahra's prosthetic leg at a landfill, but not the rest of the girl's body.
What makes me angry about this case is that her stepmother Elisa allegedly mistreated Zahra. Relatives of the young girl have, as of late, come out of the woodwork giving interviews to national media outlets about the way that Elisa abused Zahra. But I'm wondering why they failed to intervene.
According to the relatives, Zahra was constantly beaten, locked in her room for hours at a time, and only allowed out of her room for five minutes — long enough to eat. One relative (Brittany Bentley) said that each time she visited the home, Elisa beat Zahra for no reason. "This was something for a long time that we knew was going to happen — everybody that was close to the family," Bentley said in an interview on CBS' Early Show. If they knew what was going to happen, why didn't anybody do anything to protect this child? Why didn't they stand up for Zahra? To add insult to injury, the Department of Social Services in Caldwell County reportedly investigated abuse charges against the family, but failed to remove Zahra from the home.
What we have here is one big clusterfuck — a bunch of adults watching a young girl who had suffered terribly from bone cancer suffer more at the hands of what appears to be a mad woman. Only a crazy person would seek out a man who lived in Australia, move to Australia to be with him and his daughter, only to come back to North Carolina to abuse the child. Elisa Baker sounds like a predator of the worst kind, and I'm not quite sure why people cannot see that this was part of a plan. What is most maddening about the case is that Baker's father seemingly allowed his daughter to be abused by his wife.
I never understood how biological parents could stand for stepparents to mistreat their biological children anyway. That child is your flesh and blood, so how can you stand by and let anyone, let alone a stepparent, harm your child? The relatives coming out of the woodwork sicken me to such an extent that I feel they should also be charged. According to an Oct. 21 article published in The Charlotte Observer, Elisa's biological 25-year-old daughter, Amber Fairchild described her mother "as a potentially violent and unstable woman who has severed ties with her N.C. family and begun an online relationship with a man in London." Wonder if she was searching for another child to abuse?
At any rate, while we can never know who might have tried to intervene on Zahra's behalf, it appears that many adults chose to look the other way instead of getting involved, which is unacceptable. A child is most likely dead and a bunch of people say that they saw it happening. They knew that cancer was not this child's greatest threat to life — it was her home life. When will folks be able to determine the difference between minding one's business and getting involved on behalf of a child? Children cannot speak for themselves, so adults have to speak for them. When a child is telling you that she is being beaten, locked in a room, kept from food and doesn't want to go home, then you should listen and do something. That was Zahra's way of asking for help, and no one listened.