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Coldcases of 2010

January 7, 2011

Law enforcement officials work every day to protect Catawba County's streets, solve crimes and arrest criminals who endangered county residents.

But every day, crimes go unsolved. Evidence goes cold. Tips stop trickling in. No one is arrested.

In 2010, many crimes went unsolved in the county, and law enforcement officials say they're making progress to put these crimes in the "solved" folder.

Ronald Padgett murder
Feb. 21
Target shooters located 43-year-old Padgett's body in the back of a pickup truck near Spencer Road in Hickory. The truck belonged to Padgett's adoptive father, Max Fox.

An autopsy later revealed Padgett died from a single gunshot wound to the back of the head. Catawba County Sheriff Coy Reid told The O-N-E in March the shooting resembled an execution-style killing, but he said any comments about the events surrounding Padgett's death is speculation.

Reid said Friday that results are back from toxicology reports taken on Padgett's body after his death. He said police have a good idea who killed Padgett, but they don't have enough evidence to make an arrest.

Fox reported Padgett missing Feb. 20, after he didn't hear from Padgett all day. Fox said he last saw Padgett on Feb. 19 about 10 p.m.

Treva Flowers murder
March 2
Flowers, 39, was found shot to death at 722 Second Street Place SW in Conover.

Police questioned 34-year-old Jaware Moore in connection with the incident, but no arrests were made.

Police, however, are making headway in the investigation.

"It's not a cold case," said Conover Police Department Lt. Shane Moore.

Moore said CPD worked with several other agencies, including the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to compile evidence in the case.

They presented their findings in the investigation to the District Attorney's Office in the form of a prosecution summary several months ago and are waiting on a possible indictment in the case from the Catawba County Grand Jury.

I-40 shooting
April 18
A Greensboro woman was shot in the mouth as she and her son drove along Interstate 40 between mile markers 131 and 130.

Rhonda Parrish, 54, and her son, Christopher were traveling eastbound on their way home from a vacation in Linville Falls.

This was the second shooting in seven years to occur on that stretch of I-40. The first shooting occurred in February 2003 when then 5-year-old Rachel Sanchez was shot as she rode along the interstate with her family.

Despite eery similarities in the two cases, Conover Police Department said Thursday the cases aren't related.

"It's more of a coincidental thing," Moore said.

Meanwhile, the investigation into the April shooting has stalled.

"We've done everything we can," Moore said. "We're at a standstill."

The department worked with the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation to take aerial photographs of the crime scene, but the photos yielded no leads.

Parrish, like Sanchez, suffered painful injuries from the shooting, but neither died from their wounds.

Zahra Baker disappearance and death
Oct. 9
It's the case that transfixed media, Catawba County and the world.

Zahra Clare Baker, 10, was reported missing in October. Three months later, no one has been charged in her disappearance and death.

Hickory Police Department Maj. Clyde Deal said investigators continue working on the case to ensure it's air-tight. Police turned their evidence in the case to the District Attorney's Office in December.

That evidence could be used by a grand jury to indict someone on charges relating to Zahra's death. The next grand jury meets Feb. 7. The jury's second January meeting is canceled because of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.

Zahra's stepmother, Elisa Baker, was jailed on unrelated charges one day after her stepdaughter was reported missing.

Elisa Baker was later charged with obstruction of justice after admitting to writing a phony ransom note found by police during the investigation.

Since Elisa Baker's arrest, details emerged about her role in Zahra's disappearance and death, including allegations of abuse, rape and dismemberment.

Despite time passage, it takes only one clue or additional lead to solve a once-cold case. Investigators encourage anyone with information about these or any other outstanding cases to contact area law enforcement officials investigating the case.

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