Stepmom Charged in Death of Zahra Baker
NC officials allege Elisa Baker had 'history of abuse'
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 21, 2011 5:34 PM CST
In this Oct. 13, 2010 file photo, Elisa Baker, center, stepmother of Zahra Clare Baker, appears before District Court Judge Gregory Hayes on an obstruction of justice charge in Newrton, NC.   (AP Photo/The Daily Record, Robert C. Reed, File)
camera-icon View 7 more images

(Newser) – North Carolina today charged Elisa Baker with second-degree murder, alleging that she alone brutally killed and dismembered her freckle-faced stepdaughter, Zahra Baker. Autopsy results released today show the 10-year-old died of "undetermined homicidal violence," and the Charlotte Observer reports that several bones had not been recovered, including her head.

Today's grand jury indictment pointed to Elisa Baker's "history and pattern of physical, verbal and psychological abuse of the victim," and child services officials acknowledged for the first time they had investigated four complaints of abuse against Zahra, the last of which was closed six weeks before Zahra's Sept. 24 murder. The girl was reported missing Oct. 9. Father Adam Baker, whom Elisa Baker had claimed dismembered the girl, said today he was "extremely grateful" to investigators and that they'd "come to the conclusion they should have come to." Click for more on Zahra's tragic case.