Thursday, January 15, 2015

Report: Gaps in DSS system found in Zahra Baker case (Caldwell County, North Carolina)

Mothers are routinely held responsible for the violence inflicted on their children by fathers, stepdads, or boyfriends. They are held responsible--and do jail time--even when they have been threatened or abused themselves. And even when they have defensive wounds.

But not custodial dad ADAM BAKER, who took advantage of the mother's post-partum depression to strip her of custody. He then cut off all contact--something mothers are demonized for doing with the father--and moved out of Australia to the US so he could be with his Internet girlfriend.

We're supposed to believe that Daddy was so "busy" and "clueless" that he didn't stop the step's ultimately fatal abuse. Total bullsh**. Especially given the father's criminal record.

Is it any surprise that Daddy has now refused to turn over the girl's cremated remains to the mother, or even tell her what he did with them? An abuser through and through. But like so many of these men, never held responsible for anything.

See some of our past posts.

Report: Gaps in DSS system found in Zahra Baker case

WBTVJanuary 14, 2015 Updated 20 hours ago


The State Child Fatality Review report on the Zahra Baker case from the North Carolina Division of Social Services blames a series of gaps in the system that allowed possible abuse to continue until the 10-year-old’s death.

Zahra was reported missing in October 2010 and parts of her dismembered body were found in several places in Caldwell County the following month. A medical examiner’s report listed the cause of death as “unspecified homicidal violence.”

The state fatality review began in 2012 after the girl’s stepmother, Elisa Baker, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in Zahra’s killing and was sentenced to almost 18 years in prison. She later pleaded guilty to federal drug charges and was handed a 10-year sentence for that as well.

Zahra’s father, Adam Baker, was not charged in either case, and is back in his native Australia. He denied any involvement in the death and dismemberment of his daughter.

“I could never do anything like that,” he said in 2010. “I would never hurt Zahra.”

The criminal investigation revealed that at least four instances of possible child abuse were reported to Caldwell County DSS months before Zahra died. Local DSS officials conducted investigations, but no action was taken.

As DSS investigated the situation, school personnel also reported concerns about Zahra’s care. The state report on those investigations says there was limited sharing of information between school personnel, medical providers, law enforcement and DSS investigators.

When Zahra and her family moved to Catawba County, her situation was not tracked or reported to DSS officials there.

The report does not blame DSS investigators, but instead suggests the system needs improvement. It recommends that more training be made available for DSS officials and field workers, and that additional training be made available for school personnel so they have a better idea what and how to report incidents to DSS.

It also suggests that school districts implement a system to track students who have been enrolled in school but do not show up for classes. When the Bakers moved to Catawba County, they said they were home-schooling Zahra, but there were no records of her studies.

The report also calls for a statewide system where information on prior case histories and investigations can be shared between agencies. Right now, there is no system allowing one county to have access to such reports from another county.

Caldwell County DSS officials would not comment on the report.

In a written statement, the county said the local DSS has already implemented some changes to some areas of practice that needed improvement. The statement did not identify which areas.