In the story of Cinderella the young girl is left in the care of her evil step mother and treated like a servant in her own castle. She is locked away from the world and not allowed to have the bare necessities that life requires. These are the fairy tales that young girls hear. But what if the fairy tales are actually someone’s real life story? That was the case of Zahra Baker. The difference is this wasn’t a fairy tale. There was no Prince Charming at the end to take her away and live happily ever after, and she wasn’t left in the care of her stepmother. Her father was in the picture he just turned a blind eye to the woman who was abusing his only child.

Zahra moved to the US with her father and stepmother after she had finished her fight with bone and lung cancer. She lost part of her leg due to the bone cancer and was using a prosthetic as well as a hearing aid. Despite her difficulties she was a fighter. When she first came to North Carolina she was attending public school. It wasn’t until reports of child abuse at the hands of her stepmother came about that she was pulled from school and she was home schooled. Teachers and social workers had visited the home when Zahra came to school with a black eye from Elisa, her stepmother. Social workers from 2 different counties had visited the many homes the Baker family lived in since they moved frequently.

On the morning of October 9, 2010 at 5:30 a call to 911 was made reporting a fire at the back of the residence by Elisa Baker. When the police arrived they found a ransom note addressed to Adam Baker’s landlord and boss for $1 million dollars. Later that day, around 2pm they made another 911 call this time to report Zahra missing. Adam told the police he thought his daughter was kidnapped as mistaken identity. He felt that his daughter was taken accidentally in the place of his boss’ daughter and that the fire set earlier was done so as a distraction altho he told the police he had seen his daughter after the fire in the early morning hours. On October 10 the day after Zahra was reported missing, police search and rescue dogs were sent to the home and cars. They picked up the scent of human remains in both vehicles. Police also took swabs of what they thought to be blood spots. That day Elisa Baker was taken into custody for numerous offenses some of them unrelated to Zahra and some of them being her death and disappearance. Elisa allegedly failed a polygraph test with some of the questions being that of if she hurt Zahra, had anything to do with her disappearance, knew what happened to her, and if she wrote the ransom note.

Elisa Baker led police to the different sites of the dismembered body of Zahra for a more lenient murder charge. She said she pleaded guilty to help bring closure to the case and that she felt remorseful for the pain that she caused Zahra’s family. Zahra actually died on September 24th according to Elisa, more than 2 weeks before she was reported missing the day of the fire. She was dismembered and her body left in different parts of the 2 counties she had lived in. Some items were still in the home. There were small parts found in the drain trap in the bathroom, the gloves Elisa used were found in the bathroom, her prosthetic leg was found on the side of the road, and the rest was scattered in different areas. Her death was ruled “undetermined homicidal violence” since the Medical Examiner could not determine exactly how she was murdered. There was a rumor that she had been raped and then physically abused by one of Elisa’s previous husband’s cousins however the police cleared them of any wrong doing. Her skull wasn’t found until April 2012. Elisa has never given an explanation for how Zahra died. Her father was never charged in the death of his daughter tho I don’t buy that he had nothing to do with it. He should have had SOME charges… I mean how does your kid die ad get dismembered in your house and you don’t know about it? How do you not report your only child missing for 2 weeks? There is no way he didn’t know something was up but police say he is innocent. 


What do you think? Do you think her father had something to do with her death? Or at least the disposal of her body? Did he choose his wife over his child?


One thought on “HELENA GUDELL’S WONDERLAND: Cinderella

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