National News

Police: Stepmother talking in missing girl case

Posted October 26, 2010
Updated October 28, 2010

— The stepmother of a missing 10-year-old girl is cooperating with investigators who are searching in rural North Carolina for the disabled child or evidence in her disappearance, police said Tuesday.

Elisa Baker, the stepmother of Zahra Clare Baker, and her lawyer are talking with investigators, said Maj. Clyde Deal, deputy police chief in Hickory, where the child was reported missing Oct. 9.

Police believe the girl is dead. She uses hearing aids and has a prosthetic leg because of bone cancer. Authorities in recent weeks have combed wooded areas and a landfill for evidence or her body.

Deal said Tuesday that Elisa Baker, 42, was taken earlier this week to a home where she once lived. But he declined to elaborate.

“We’re working with her attorney to see what information she has and what she is willing to share. We’re treating her like every other source of information,” he said.

A telephone message left for Elisa Baker’s attorney, Scott Reilly, was not immediately returned.

The stepmother has been charged with obstruction of justice. Police said she acknowledged to writing a bogus ransom note found at the scene of a fire in the family’s back yard on the day Zahra Clare Baker was reported missing.

The girl’s father, Adam Baker, was arrested Monday on unrelated charges. He and his daughter are from Australia. He and his daughter moved to North Carolina in 2008 after he married Elisa Baker, whom he had met on the Internet.

Adam Baker, 33, is facing one count each of assault with a deadly weapon and failure to return rental property, two counts of communicating threats and five counts of writing worthless checks, authorities said.

The timing of his arrest raises questions because the charges against him were filed over the past few months. Hickory Police Chief Tom Adkins had said authorities delayed taking action because he was cooperating with police.

Deal said investigators haven’t talked to Adam Baker since his arrest. He also said Adam Baker did not have an attorney.

Adam Baker was being held in a western North Carolina jail on $7,000 bond. Elisa Baker is at the same jail.

Police have not found the girl’s body and haven’t charged anyone with killing her.

A statement from Hickory police Tuesday afternoon said a mattress similar to Zahra's was found by workers at a Caldwell County landfill when the area was being regraded following a search last week. The statement said the mattress will be tested for DNA evidence.

29 Comments

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  • KittenClaws Oct 28, 11:34 a.m.

    Shame on you ADAM BAKER! Shame on you for putting your desires above the needs, health and well being of your child! Shame on you for letting your child live in such a hate-filled environment and in all probability, die by the hands of that hate! Shame on you for not being there for the daughter who had no one but you to stand up for her. SHAME!!

  • serious Oct 28, 11:27 a.m.

    Hater-decomposition IN BOTH of the so called parents vehicles...Maybe Dad and stepmonster are deer hunters huh. You are exactly right, dogs don't have the ability to reason. We don't need them to reason, we need them to find evidence, of which they found. The rest is up to detectives to put the pieces together and test what the dogs did find to see if it belonged to the missing girl. And if you ask me, the pieces so far say this poor little girl's remains were at some point in those vehicles. May not be enough for a murder conviction, but maybe it is enough to at least prove that they had some involvement in this child's death or at least in disposing of her remains so that these monsters both can be put away.

  • Hater like Darth Vader Oct 28, 11:06 a.m.

    Yeah, decomposition at a mulching facility. Dogs don't have the ability to reason, so you can take their "detection" for what it is worth, they have no way to differentiate between the decomposition of who carbon based organisms.

  • serious Oct 28, 10:41 a.m.

    Hater- you are the one that mentioned the insanity case based on the question of was the girl well behaved. If you dont think she would even need an insanity case why bring it up? I simply said that I doubt stepmonster will have any insanity case here. Also, dog's dont lie. If they detected decomp, it was there. Although that may not be enough to convict, I think it is still viable evidence.

  • Hater like Darth Vader Oct 28, 10:30 a.m.

    happymom - this is true, but I was saying if they get anything other than circumstantial evidence that they have released now, this would be a good insanity case to avoid death penalty. I'm not justifying it, I agree with you, children aren't nearly in control of their actions as even the stupidest of adults.

    and Hersheykiss- at this time, I don't think she will need an insanity case. Until the police release more information, they don't have a good case. Their strongest evidence so far is that the dogs smelled the girl in her parents vehicles and at dads work. I would hope we don't live in a world were a dog's opinion is condidered fact either.

  • happymom Oct 28, 10:02 a.m.

    "Because if her stepmother has such a short temper and she wasn't a well behaved kid. And bear with me, this would be under circumstantial evidence. But the case could be made that she antagonized her until the point of temporary insanity,"

    That statement comes very close to blaming the victim.

    Killing a child because you have a bad temper and the child is misbehaving is murder. Period. Every child misbehaves. They do not deserve to be murdered and have their bodies dumped like trash because of it.

    My heart aches for this baby.

  • nanny Oct 28, 9:55 a.m.

    pcox-very well said. The laws need to be changed in NC regarding child abuse and yes, several reported this family, but nothing was done-the Child Protective Services and Social Services should be investigated, as well, this is happening way too often to innnocent children. God Bless you little Zahra-I am so sorry-may you rest with the angels.

  • serious Oct 28, 9:49 a.m.

    Hater- I understand your point but with all the other evidence, plus people's accounts of the abuse that was going on, and stepmonster's my space page, I doubt she would have an insanity case. Although it wouldn't surprise me if they tried it.

  • Hater like Darth Vader Oct 28, 9:33 a.m.

    Because if her stepmother has such a short temper and she wasn't a well behaved kid. And bear with me, this would be under circumstantial evidence. But the case could be made that she antagonized her until the point of temporary insanity, in which case the stepmother gets a plea and the family gets a body. Lady gets life inprisonment and everyone gets closure.

  • heaf200 Oct 28, 9:26 a.m.

    Most likely this poor child is dead - and sadly it would seem that not only the step-mother, but now the father with his arrest on "unrelated" charges had something to do with her death. They deserve the death penalty.
    All these so called "family" members and neighbors who came out talking about how they saw the abuse, etc. Should also have to serve some type of punishment for not coming forward and possibly preventing this child's death.

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