The biological parents of Zahra Baker begged Elisa Baker, the stepmother who pleaded guilty to killing and dismembering the disabled North Carolina girl, to tell them the location of the rest of Zahra's remains.
"I feel there will be no real justice for Zahra," said Emily Deitrich, the girl's biological mother who traveled from Australia to see Elisa Baker's sentencing. "Her life was taken by an evil selfishness … Part of Zahra is still out there... What I truly want to see is Zahra be given the dignity and respect she deserves."
"If at any time you actually cared for Zahra, please tell us where we can find any more of Zahra's remains so she can be laid to rest," said Zahra's father and Elisa Baker's husband, Adam Baker.
Elisa Baker, 43, was sentenced today to between 14 and 18 years in prison after pleading guilty to second degree murder. She was charged with 10-year-old Zahra's murder in February. She also pleaded guilty to charges of obstruction of justice, bigamy, obtaining property under false pretenses and identity theft.
Zahra Baker had a short, brutal life. She lost a leg and much of her hearing in two bouts with bone cancer, and relatives and friends say she was abused and frequently bruised by her stepmother.
She was reported missing on Oct. 9, 2010. Her prosthetic leg was found Oct. 27, 2010. Portions of her dismembered remains were later found, but her skull, her hands, one leg and an arm are still missing.
Zahra's mother told the court through tears that Elisa Baker is "pure evil" and described Zahra's murder as a "heinous act."
Elisa Baker, with her graying brown hair in a braid and wearing a pink jumpsuit, looked on as Deitrich described her having "pulled apart [Zahra] like a human puzzle" and having "discarded [her] like rubbish."
"The event has traumatized my family to the point of ripping it apart because none of us know how to deal with unimaginable things [happening] to a beautiful girl," Deitrich said.
Zahra was raised by her father after her parents split up. Deitrich had not seen Zahra for most of her life.
Adam Baker met Elisa Baker online and moved with his daughter from his native Australia to Hickory, N.C., to live with the woman. Adam Baker described his hate for the woman he once loved.
"Zahra will never get to go to high school, never have a real boyfriend, never get married and never have children," he said. "You have destroyed my life. You have also made my life hell with false accusations."
Elisa Baker claimed in a jailhouse letter that Adam Baker did something "horrifying" to Zahra after she was dead. Adam Baker has never been charged in his daughter's death. He is facing criminal charges unrelated to the murder that include identity theft and obtaining property under false pretenses.
Elisa Baker did not address the court.
As Judge Timothy Kincaid sentenced the woman, he highlighted that how and why Zahra died is still unknown. The little girl's death was ruled the result of "undetermined homicidal violence."
Elisa Baker told authorities that Zahra died on Sept. 24, 2010, more than two weeks before she was reported missing. She testified that she went in to feed the girl at around 3 p.m. An hour later, Elisa Baker claims she found the girl unresponsive. She told authorities that she tried to perform CPR and then called Adam Baker, the Hickory Daily Record reported.