5 LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE

HICKORY, N.C. – There is a new addition to the playground in Hickory that is dedicated to the memory of Zahra Baker.

She was the 10-year-old girl who was murdered by her step-mother back in 2010.

The newest addition to the playground is a massive tree house. It was built in part from money left over from fundraising drives for the park that was first opened in May 2012.

Additional contributions raised the total available to $33,000 for construction costs.

Hickory Mayor Rudy Wright led the dedication ceremony for the tree house.

"I believe that somebody that has been here has been touched and has thought about child abuse and has responded in some way to this memorial," Wright said.

Designers wanted the treehouse to be accessible to all kids.

During her young life, Zahra Baker had lost a leg to cancer and had a hearing impairment.

Kay Smith's granddaughter, who uses a wheelchair, was one of those who cut the ribbon opening the tree house to the public for the first time.

"The tree house gives them a sense of being up and looking out. They love it," said Smith.

Caroline Kirk is now the same age Zahra was when she was killed and remembers going to some of the events staged to honor the young girl.

"I was a girl scout and so we went to a lot of celebrations. We went to her house and delivered stuffed animals," she said.

The house on N.W. 21st Avenue in Hickory where Zahra lived with her father Adam Baker and step-mother Elisa Baker is still standing empty and boarded up.

Elisa Baker pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and is currently serving a 15 to 18-year sentence in prison.

Elisa Baker claimed it was Adam Baker who dismembered the girl and spread her body parts across two counties.

Investigators tracked Elisa Baker's cell phone to locations near the burial locations but never detected Adam Baker's phone signature at any of the sites.

Adam Baker was never charged and later returned to his native Australia.

The spirit of Zahra Baker seems alive now at the playground named for her.

One speaker at the tree house dedication said it would always be a place of smiled and a haven of safety for all children.

The park is located in Hickory at 805 6th Street, SE.

5 LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE
Read or Share this story: http://www.wcnc.com/story/news/local/2014/08/19/zahra-tree-house/14303757/