Emily Dietrich, the biological mother of murdered child Zahra Baker, has spoken out in the US for the first time since her daughter’s death.
Dietrich, who is Australian, rescinded custody to Zahra’s father Adam at birth, and at the time of the young girl’s death, she was cared for by Baker and his wife Elisa. The couple have been charged in the death of little Zahra- whose remains were found scattered across two counties– although police have yet to determine exactly how the child died.
10-year-old Zahra Baker was reported missing by her father in October of 2010, but prior to her disappearance, she hadn’t had the most cheerful childhood. The girl almost succumbed to bone cancer in 2008, and was fitted with an artificial leg after she lost part of the limb during treatment. And by the time Adam Baker realized Zahra was gone, she’d been dead for two weeks- presumably at the hand of her stepmother Elisa, with the cause of death officially listed as undetermined homicidal violence.
Dietrich was just a teen when she gave baby Zahra up to her father, but began to search for the little girl, finally tracking her down in the states before she learned of her daughter’s illness and violent death. Having faced down Adam and Elisa in court, Dietrich gave her first interviews to weigh in on her daughter’s senseless death. Of Adam’s involvement, she says:
“There’s a big difference between being not guilty and being innocent,” she said, “and I don’t think he is innocent of what happened. He had played all his own part.”
Of her decision to give Zahra up and struggles with post-partum depression, Dietrich lamented:
“I didn’t have the strength to keep doing it… I didn’t want to hate my child. I didn’t want to be that news story people hear about — the mother who drowns her child or couldn’t stop them crying or smothered them… I didn’t want to be that mother… didn’t do it because I didn’t love her, I did it because I DID love her.”
Elisa Baker pleaded guilty to second degree murder on Thursday and was sentenced to 15-18 years in prison under the terms of a plea deal.