As the search for missing Zahra Baker moves toward its third week, members of law enforcement and recovery teams scoured two main areas Friday in hopes of discovering the 10-year-old North Carolina girl’s remains. After recovering what they believe is Zahra Baker’s prosthetic leg (police are attempting to get medical records for a serial number match), the Charlotte Observer reported that authorities returned to the Caldwell area where it was found Friday. At the same time, according to the Hickory Daily Record, police returned to the Baker residence and began digging and sifting through mulch piles and dirt.
Hickory Police have worked under the supposition that Zahra Baker died or was killed just two or three days into the case and have conducted the searches and overall investigation as a homicide case. And the investigation seemed to receive a break when stepmother and person of interest Elisa Baker began cooperating with authorities on Sunday, but that doesn’t seem to have led to the recovery of Zahra Baker. The investigation did, however, find a small prosthesis, which they believe belonged to the little girl. Zahra Baker had worn a prosthesis after losing her leg to bone cancer while she and her father still lived in Australia. They had moved to the U. S. in 2008 when Adam Baker met Elisa online.
Friday’s search radiated out from the brushy area in Caldwell County where the leg was found in an effort to hopefully find the remains of the girl. Said area was located not far from a former residence of Elisa Baker and is a known dumping ground.
Authorities would not comment on the what brought them back to search the location. Elisa Baker, who has been in the Catawba County jail since the day after Zahra Baker went missing (arrested on unrelated charges), had accompanied searchers to several locations throughout the day on Monday. Observers noted that she never got out of the police SUV.
At the Hickory residence (Catawba County), investigators worked with a backhoe and rakes, according to the Daily Record. Searchers worked all day going through dirt and through mulch piles located on the property. Observers noted that searchers did take bagged potential evidence away from the scene, but authorities would not comment on what they actually sought. Hickory Police Chief Tom Adkins stated earlier that “new information” had led them back to search the grounds.
As for the where the investigation stands, the reticence of investigators in the Zahra Baker case has left the media with only avenues of speculation. It is unknown if authorities know where Zahra Baker’s remains are generally located and they simply need to find them or if the individuals that are perhaps connected with the disappearance have given authorities information that still has them casting about and hoping for recovery.
In fact, it is unclear how cooperative Elisa Baker has been, only that she has been cooperative. Adam Baker, himself arrested early Monday morning — on unrelated charges — after police found him at an international airport, has also said to be cooperative throughout the investigation. How much cooperation is as yet unknown.
What is known is that Adam Baker, Zahra’s father, reported his 10-year-old daughter missing on Saturday, October 9, just about eight hours after a yard fire was reported at his residence. At that earlier time, responding police had found a ransom note addressed to Baker’s employer, Mark Coffey, demanding one million dollars for the return of his daughter. A subsequent check on the Coffeys found them safe and unharmed, so police left, only to return when answering Adam Baker’s 911 call. Baker told Hickory Police that his wife had told him she had heard his daughter cough in her bedroom at 2:30 a.m. that morning, which was roughly two and a half hours before they reported her missing.
But Zahra Baker, as far as police have yet to ascertain, had not been seen since September 25, when she and Elisa Baker were seen together in a Hickory furniture store.
“Search for Zahra Baker resumes in Caldwell,” CharlotteObserver.com
“More evidence taken from home,” HickoryRecord.com