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HICKORY, NC (WBTV) -
More than a hundred people gathered on Union Square in downtown Hickory Tuesday at noon to remember children who died as a result of child abuse across North Carolina in 2011.
The name and age of each child was read along with causes of death ranging from gunshot wound to beatings. A bell was chimed for each victim and a small t-shirt put up on a clothesline.
24 t-shirts went up on the line this year along with an extra one for the unknown victims of child abuse.
"We have to remember the victims and vow to do our best to stop the abuse," said one speaker. Hickory was in the national spotlight in a child abuse case two years ago. That's when Zahra Baker's dismembered remains were found in Caldwell County.
Her stepmother Elisa Baker was charged with killing her. Authorities believe Zahra was the victim of abuse in the Hickory home where she lived with her father and stepmother. Elisa Baker pled guilty to second degree murder.
Her father Adam was not charged but was later deported to his home country of Australia. The investigation is over, said authorities, except for one part. Police are waiting for DNA results to come back on a child's skull found in the Patterson areas of Caldwell County last spring. There's no word when test results will come back.
The gathering in Hickory Tuesday is an annual event to bring attention to the victims of child abuse. Assistant District Attorney Michael Van Buren who prosecuted the Elisa Baker case said it was important for people to remember Zahra but to also understand she was not alone as a victim of abuse. "Unfortunately every week in a Catawba County courtroom we see a case that is just as tragic as what happened to Zahra."
Police say people should report any signs of abuse to their local authorities. It's the only way to put a dent in the problem, they say.