Solid memories

Since Zahra Baker was reported missing on Oct. 9, 2010, groups across the state have held events, memorials and remembrance ceremonies for the late 10-year-old girl.

Organizations like the Kiwanis Club have raised thousands of dollars for a Zahra Baker memorial playground. Groups like the Children’s Advocacy and Protection Agency have held remembrance ceremonies to remember Zahra and all other child homicide victims.

On Sunday, area authorities used a brick to remember the little girl.

A brick inscribed “Zahra Clara Baker” was one of four memorial blocks placed at the Catawba County Peace Officers memorial in Hickory. The bricks — located beside a memorial that remembers fallen law enforcement officers — are used to memorialize those who have contributed to law enforcement or emergency services, said Carl Pope, retired state trooper and president of the Catawba County Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) Lodge 26.

“A lot of us did not even know Zahra, but as the investigation went on and things came out, I felt like I knew Zahra,” Pope said. “She always had that smile on her face. It always amazed me that even with the health issues she had, she always had a smile on her face.”

Pope said the brick is a memorial for the 10-year-old girl who was killed in September 2010, as well as a “thank you” to the different law enforcement agencies who sought justice in her death.

After Zahra first disappeared last fall, residents throughout the county, state and nation were immediately drawn to the little girl who was disabled and had survived cancer. After many hours of searching and interviews, investigators found Zahra’s body dismembered and scattered throughout the county.

Elisa Baker was later charged with second-degree murder. She pleaded guilty in September 2011 and will face 15-18 years for the crime.

While Hickory Police Department led the investigation surrounding Zahra, they received support from many other agencies, including state and federal bureaus of investigation.

On Sunday, Hickory Police Chief Tom Adkins was chosen to place Zahra’s brick among the others already dedicated, along with representatives from the Catawba and Burke county sheriff’s offices.

“Now anytime, day or night, we can still remember our friend,” Pope said.

Others remembered
The FOP helped place three other bricks on Sunday, including one in memory of fallen emergency services officers who died during 9/11.

The brick was sponsored by retired officer Pat Dugan, whose New York office was one block away from Ground Zero. Dugan and his wife, Elizabeth, placed the brick at the memorial in memory of the family, friends and emergency services workers who were lost that day.

“People that I worked with died in 9/11 and this is a great way to remember them forever,” said Dugan, who left New York in 1994. “I think the memorial is beautiful and I think it’s a great idea.”

Bricks were also set for retired Conover Police Officer Sgt. Paul Ray Icard, as well as James, Beulah and Christine Brewer.

Additional bricks are available for purchase for $100. The proceeds benefit the FOP’s different community service projects throughout the county, Pope said. Anyone interested in purchasing a brick can contact Carl Pope at 828-695-1704.