According to CNN, the long police search of clues has paid off with the finding today of the artificial limb Zahra Baker was fitted with before the beautiful 10-year-old disappeared in September. The leg was found in a house previously occupied by her stepmother. While this doesn’t improve the chances of finding Zahra alive, it does give the police an good start on what is sure to be a long process to justice.
Zahra lost her leg to cancer, along with hearing, during a battle with cancer. She was reported missing in October by her father and stepmother. The last documented sighting of the youngster, though, was two weeks earlier. Police are treating the case as a homicide. Another major piece of evidence located is the child’s mattress. Police now seem to be concentrating the search for more clues at the family’s home.
Having some limited knowledge about prosthetic devices, The leg these clues could give police a very good place to start:
1. The manufacturer.
We know that Zahra was originally fitted for her leg in Australia. The company’s name will no doubt be visible on the leg. This leads the second important factor.
2. A serial number.
This can be compared to a VIN on an automobile, but it’s almost impossible to remove. These are stamped and engraved both inside and outside the device. You may have heard our bodies can be identified by serial numbers located on hip or knee replacements. It’s a very similar process. And it’s fairly easy to do as the FDA requires companies to keep records to ensure quality. So, in a short amount of time, police will know if this artificial leg did belong to young Zahra.
3. DNA, Fingerprints, other forensic evidence.
The device is probably metal, plastic and cloth. Even if exposed to the weather, two of these components retain fingerprints very well, and we all know how difficult blood can be to remove. The bad side of this is that there are reasonable explanations for forensic evidence from family members – who appear to be the prime suspects – to be on the leg.
4. How long the leg has been in the present location.
The condition of the leg, the deterioration of the cloth material and any botanical manner like moss or vegetation growing on the leg can show how long the leg has been discarded.
This piece of evidence may seem small and sad, but it offers police a great step in their search for young Zahra.
Source: CNN, Prosthetic Leg Found Believed to belong to Missing N.C. Girl, retrieved from http://edition.cnn.com/2010/CRIME/10/27/north.carolina.missing.girl/index.html