National News

Police: Prosthetic leg belonged to missing girl

Posted November 1, 2010 3:38 p.m. EDT
Updated November 1, 2010 4:01 p.m. EDT

— A prosthetic leg that investigators found last week belonged to a 10-year-old Hickory girl who has been missing for more than three weeks, police said Monday.

Searchers looking for the remains of Zahra Clare Baker found the leg Tuesday near a Caldwell County home where her stepmother once lived. Zahra had an artificial leg because she lost hers to bone cancer.

Zahra was reported missing Oct. 9, and authorities say they believe she is dead.

Police used a scanner to obtain the serial number of a transponder placed inside the prosthesis, and they matched that number with one on medical records obtained from Australia, where Zahra was fitted with the leg.

Zahra and her father, Adam Baker, lived in Australia until he met a woman online and moved to North Carolina to marry her.

Zahra's stepmother, Elisa Baker, 42, remains in jail on an obstruction of justice charge. 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 was reported missing.

Adam and Elisa Baker told police they had last seen Zahra in her bed at their home in Hickory on Oct. 9, but police don’t believe them.

Investigators said Zahra may have been alive when the family moved to a new home in North Carolina in mid-September, but they’ve had trouble finding anyone else who has seen her in recent months.

A mattress found by workers at a Caldwell County landfill last week is being tested for DNA evidence in the case, and investigators continue to search the family's home for other evidence.

Adam Baker insists he had nothing to do with Zahra’s disappearance, but police have not ruled him out as a suspect.