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Memorial service to mark Zahra Baker's 13th birthday

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CALDWELL COUNTY, NC (WBTV) -

A memorial service in Caldwell County marked what would have been Zahra Baker's 13th birthday.

The service was held at the Zahra Baker Memorial on Christie Road Friday afternoon, just feet away from the spot where her remains were found in 2010.

"There are people out there that really do care and want to keep things like this going," Visitor Katherine Burch said.

"There is a new awareness that is brought to everyone over this tragic event that happened in Zarah's life," Pastor Nicky Waters said at the service Friday.

"We want this to be standing here when we're dead and gone to remind everyone - people need to get involved," Jake Icenhour said. The land the memorial is built on belongs to Icenhour but he says it took a community to get the memorial permanently in place.

Zahra was a 10-year-old disabled girl who was killed and dismembered in October 2010.

Parts of her body were found in multiple sites around Catawba and Caldwell counties months after her disappearance. Zahra's arm bone, prosthetic leg, torso and pelvic area were found.

Police said they also found a saw, which they believe was used to cut up the girl's body. A vertebrae and other bones of Zahra were also found with saw cut marks on them, an investigator said earlier this year.

But Zahra's head and many other body parts were never found.

Zahra's stepmother, Elisa Baker, pled guilty to second degree murder in September 2011. She was sentenced to up to 18 years in prison.

Her father, Adam Baker, was not charged in the case. Investigators and the District Attorney said there was no evidence to show he was involved in the girl's death or dismemberment.

The little girl's remains were cremated and given to her father in November 2011.

Last year a new law was enacted in North Carolina and has become known as "Zahra's Law" or House Bill 227.

The updated law makes it a felony to disturb or dismember human remains.

According to the law, "any person who, with the intent to conceal the death of a person, fails to notify a law enforcement authority of the death or secretly buries or otherwise secretly disposes of a dead human body is guilty of a Class I felony."

The law also includes punishment for anyone who "attempts to conceal evidence of the death of another by knowingly and willfully dismembering or destroying human remains, by any means, including removing body parts or otherwise obliterating any portion thereof, shall be guilty of a Class H felony."

A playground was built in Zahra's honor at Kiwanis Park in Hickory, earlier this year.  The playground opened in May and was built with more than $200,000 in donations from citizens and businesses throughout the area.

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Photos: Zahra Baker

Photos of Zahra Baker

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