State News

Police: Mattress to be tested for clues in missing girl case

Posted October 26, 2010

— Investigators searching for a missing 10-year-old girl said Tuesday that they have recovered a mattress from a Caldwell County landfill that they will examine for evidence in the case.

Landfill workers discovered the mattress while they were re-grading an area that was searched last week, police said. DNA evidence was found on the mattress, police said, and it will be tested to determine if it is connected to Zahra Clare Baker's disappearance.

Baker was reported missing on Oct. 9. Police believe the girl is dead, and authorities in recent weeks have combed wooded areas and a landfill for evidence or her body.

Her stepmother, Elisa Baker, has been charged with obstruction of justice in the case. Police said she acknowledged to writing a bogus ransom note found the day Zahra was reported missing.

Elisa Baker, 42, has been talking with investigators after her lawyer approached police offering her help, said Maj. Clyde Deal, deputy police chief in Hickory.

Deal said Tuesday that Elisa Baker was taken 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 girl’s father, Adam Baker, was arrested Monday on unrelated charges. He and his daughter are from Australia, and they 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.


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  • happy2beme Oct 27, 2010

    My mistake, there is a law.
    State statutes specifically address abuse.
    "Any person or institution who has cause to suspect that any juvenile is abused, neglected, or dependent, as defined by G.S. 7B-101, or has died as the result of maltreatment, shall report the case of that juvenile to the director of the department of social services in the county where the juvenile resides or is found. The report may be made orally, by telephone, or in writing.

  • happy2beme Oct 27, 2010

    I don't believe NC has a specific law about reporting child abuse. I do think it's pretty much understood that any form of civil worker (police, teachers, social workers, etc) have a certain responsibility to report suspected abuse. JKKC: If you report suspected abuse your name is supposed to be withheld unless ordered released by the court system. Of course, it doesn't always go that way. Also, if you knowingly file a false report, you may face criminal charges. As far as getting sued, if I felt that the child was in danger or being abused, I would take my chances. Look at all the people who claim to have witnessed this abuse and didn't report it.

  • JKKC Oct 27, 2010

    angimomma, it is a law not to text while driving, how's that working out? However, you have to remember that if you call in your neighbor for child abuse, it is investigated and nothing is found, you can be sued for slander and other stuff. PC gone amuck strikes again!!!

  • angimomma Oct 27, 2010

    Hersheykiss, in NC it is law that EVERYONE report suspected abuse or neglect. However, like everything else these days it seems, things are either loosely enforced or in this case not at all.

  • serious Oct 27, 2010

    Isn't there some kind of law that says you have to report child abuse or even if you suspect it? Or maybe that just pertains to teachers or daycares?

  • wakeresident Oct 27, 2010

    happy2beme, I completely agree with you re the family / friends' comments. I hear it said often, even in here, that people call CPS too quickly and too often. And yet, dead children are on the news every single day, victims of abuse. It's awful. Clearly, someone isn't calling them when they see abuse.

  • serious Oct 27, 2010

    angimomma-you are right you are NOT a fosensic pathologist. There is quite a difference between a dead man's DNA and a live man's DNA, it's called decomposition-where dead cells begin to break down. Also, the amount of blood can very well determine if a person is dead or not, since the body only holds so much blood, if a certain amount of blood loss can be determined, death can be determined. As far as the land fill, imagine having to search through tons and tons of garbage, that smells as bad as all get up, everything from rotten food, human waste, to whos knows what. It's like finding a needle in a haystack and you can believe that authorities are doing their best to find what they are looking for, however it is not an easy task to say the least.

  • genie2u Oct 27, 2010

    I wonder if her bio mom knows her daughter is dead... i wonder if she would even care. so sad. Just think how differently this girls life could have been if her sorry mom had done what she was suppose to and raised her

  • itsmyownopinion Oct 27, 2010

    "Landfill workers discovered the mattress while they were re-grading an area that was searched last week"

    I wonder how many mattresses end up in that particular landfill any given week? I often see mattresses on the side of the road, particularly on the beltline, as I drive around here. No doubt they eventually go to a landfill. That mattress may or may not have come from the Baker house.

  • boatmonkey82 Oct 27, 2010

    i think its time for a bit of hardcore interrogating , you know a lil phone book work . i would risk my job to find out where she is .