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Stepmother charged with murder in N.C. girl's death

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Stepmom charged in N.C. girl's murder
  • NEW: Elisa Baker acted alone, DA says
  • Zahra Baker's dismembered remains were found a month after she was reported missing
  • Elisa Baker "desecrated the victim's body" to hide the killing, the indictment says
  • The stepmother has a history of "physical, verbal and psychological abuse," it says

Tune in to "Nancy Grace" tonight at 8 ET for the latest on the new developments in the Zahra Baker story. Don't miss "Nancy Grace" Monday at 8 ET on HLN.

(CNN) -- Elisa Baker, the stepmother of 10-year-old Zahra Baker, was indicted Monday on second-degree murder charges in the girl's death, a Catawba County, North Carolina, court clerk told CNN.

Zahra was reported missing from her Hickory, North Carolina, home in October, and some of her dismembered remains were found a month later.

Elisa Baker, 42, "desecrated the victim's body to hinder detection, investigation and prosecution of the offense," the indictment said.

The stepmother already was charged with obstruction of justice after police said she admitted to planting a fake ransom note. She told police the girl was killed two weeks before she was reported missing, according to search warrants.

"The defendant had a history and pattern of physical, verbal and psychological abuse of the victim," the indictment said. The indictment described Zahra as "very young, physically infirm, or handicapped."

The girl lost part of her left leg at age 5 and lost hearing in both ears while being treated for cancer.

"The defendant took advantage of a position of trust or confidence, including a domestic relationship, to commit the offense," the indictment said.

District Attorney Jay Gaither said Monday that the state "has no credible evidence to suggest that anyone other than Elisa Baker" was involved in the killing.

Police: Blood in Zahra Baker's home

Documents released after Zahra's remains were found in November tell a grisly story.

The stepmother said the disabled girl's body was dismembered and disposed of in various locations, documents said.

A search warrant dated October 27 shows police were looking for latex gloves used to dismember Zahra and trash bags used to store body parts.

Hickory Chief of Police Tom Adkins called the indictment a "milestone" in the case -- "holding someone accountable that members of 'team Zahra' have been working towards since the first words spoken on that 911 call" in October, reporting the girl missing.

Elisa Baker was also charged last month with bigamy. She is accused of marrying the girl's father before divorcing her previous husband, a Catawba County court official said.