Never forgotten

The county’s annual vigil for child homicide victims is always an emotional event.

Hearing the name “Zahra” this year struck a special nerve with most in attendance.

On Tuesday, the Children’s Advocacy and Protection Center (CAPC) remembered 20 child homicide victims that were killed by a parent or guardian in 2011.

The names included 10-year-old Zahra Baker.

Zahra is the Australian girl who traveled to Catawba County at age 7 to live with her father, Adam Baker. She was killed by Adam’s partner, Elisa Baker, in September 2010.

Zahra and the other children were remembered with small decorated T-shirts that were pinned in front of the Catawba County Justice Center in Newton. The name of each child victim was called, along with how they died.

“As we leave here, our goal is to reduce the names on this roll call until there is no need to have a roll call,” said Hickory Police Chief Tom Adkins.

CAPC has held the vigil for several years, but Adkins said the “hefty goal” is to eliminate all child homicides across the state.

He said prevention efforts, education and community empowerment are three ways that child abuse and homicides can be eliminated.

Debra Johnson, CAPC director, challenged each attendee at the vigil.

“Make a personal commitment to educate 20 people about child abuse and neglect before April 2012,” Johnson said. “If everybody educated 20 people before April 2012, I think (child abuse prevention) would get a lot more attention.”

About 50 people gathered for the ceremony, including members of area law enforcement and the local district attorney’s office.