Archive - News Article
October 14th, 2010
When documentarian James Smith met the International Gourd Lady at a craft fair in Charlotte, he saw something special.
It was a spark -- Margaret "Sparky" Sparkman, to be exact.
"I met her, and I was really inspired," Smith said. "She really sparked that interest in me to do something unique."
Smith decided to do a documentary on the life of the woman known worldwide as the International Gourd Lady.
He soon discovered, however, that there is more to Sparkman than brightly painted gourds and a colorful outfit.
Investigators came up empty Thursday in the search for Zahra Baker.
Maj. Clyde Deal with the Hickory Police Department said the search for clues in Baker's disappearance turned up nothing.
In the days since Baker was reported missing, police searched property in Burke County, including draining a pond. Deal declined to say the exact location of the property or how many locations are being searched.
Members of Catawba Valley Pride Inc. say it's time for a gay pride event in Catawba County, but the first-ever event is something residents remain hesitant to discuss.
The three-day event starts Friday at the Lenoir-Rhyne University and continues throughout the weekend at various locations in Catawba County.
During a survey of Catawba County residents, several people declined to comment about the event, citing its sensitive nature.
"I just don't want to comment about it," one woman said.
Parents of missing 10-year-old Zahra Clare Baker were not operating a home school when Zahra was reported missing, according to records from the North Carolina Division of Non-public Education.
Hickory police said Zahra, who was reported missing Saturday about 2 p.m., was home-schooled at the time of her disappearance, and she previously attended Caldwell County Schools.
CHARLOTTE (AP) â€” Though Zahra Clare Baker was battling cancer that forced her to wear hearing aids and a prosthetic leg, friends who knew her in Australia say she was an outgoing, caring, happy girl.
Then her lonely single father moved her halfway around the world to North Carolina so he could live with a woman he met on the Internet. Now the 10-year-old with the freckles and wide smile is missing and presumed dead, and friends and family thousands of miles away are waiting anxiously for word about her fate.
CHARLOTTE (AP) â€” A missing 10-year-old may have been alive when her family moved to a new home in North Carolina in mid-September, police said Thursday.
Investigators are having trouble finding anyone outside Zahra Clare Baker's household in Hickory who has seen the girl alive in recent months, making it difficult to narrow down places to search.
Newton firefighters responded to a mobile home fire on Old Ladder Road about 8:35 Thursday morning.
The home was vacant at the time of the fire, and neighbors say its owner, Clayton Garr, left the residence about 15 minutes before the fire was reported.
Cause of the fire is under investigation.
The American Red Cross is assisting Garr.
Area law enforcement drained a pond late Wednesday on property in Burke County where they've been searching for missing 10-year-old Zahra Baker.
The land is owned by a family who runs tree trimming company where Zahra's father, Adam, works. It is an area where mulch, wood chips and heavy equipment are all stored. Hickory Police Deputy Chief Clyde Deal said there was nothing specific they were looking for.
"We always want to err on the side of doing more than you need to than not doing as much as you should have done," he said.
The sound of children's laughter drifted Wednesday night from the playground at East Hickory Baptist Church, a painful reminder for everyone gathered there of one child who was noticeably absent.
East Hickory Baptist Church hosted a candlelight vigil Wednesday evening at the church playground to honor missing 10-year-old Zahra Clare Baker.
"A child's life should be something of joy, of fun and laughter," said David King, chairman of deacons at East Hickory Baptist. "Not of tragedy that evidently has happened with this young child."
A Hickory man was convicted this week in Catawba County Superior Criminal Court of two felony charges.
Ricky Dean Reina, 25, was convicted of felony first-degree kidnapping and felony larceny of a motor vehicle. Reina was sentenced to prison for no less than 44 months and no more than 58 months.
The incident occurred in February when Reina stole a vehicle from the Sunhouse gas station on U.S. 70 in Hickory. The car was running at the time, and a child was inside.
Reina drove the car a short distance and then let the child get out of the vehicle.