State News

Search for missing Hickory girl moves to new location

Posted October 25, 2010 10:52 a.m. EDT
Updated October 26, 2010 6:25 a.m. EDT

— Investigators searching for a missing 10-year-old focused Monday on an area where her stepmother used to live.

Police believe Zahra Baker, who was reported missing Oct. 9 from Hickory, is dead.

Her father was arrested Monday on several charges unrelated to the girl’s disappearance, joining his wife who has been in custody for two weeks.

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.

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

It was unclear if he was still cooperating. A telephone message left for Adkins was not immediately returned.

Baker, who is from Australia, was being held in a western North Carolina jail on $7,000 bond, Hickory police spokeswoman Libby Grigg said. It was not clear if he had an attorney.

The girl’s stepmother, Elisa Baker, is at the same jail, facing charges including obstruction of justice. Police said she admitted 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.

Police have said they think someone killed the girl, but have not found her body and haven’t charged anyone with killing her. A three-day search of a nearby landfill last week failed to turn up any evidence.

On Monday authorities were searching along Dudley Shoals Road in Caldwell County, an area where Elisa Baker lived in 2006-2007 before she married Adam Baker and before his daughter, Zahra, moved to the United States.