Dogs Alert to Human Remains in Wood Chipper, Vehicles

Zahra Clare Baker Missing
Dogs Alert to Human Remains in Wood Chipper, Vehicles
The Search for Missing 10-Year-Old Zahra Baker Moves to Father's Workplace
Charlotte Observer
Oct 13, 2010

The search for missing 10-year-old Zahra Clare Baker continued in Burke County, North Carolina, Wednesday as authorities converged on property owned by the employer of the little girl's father, Adam Baker, for the third time. Fearing the worst for Zahra, who is disabled due to complications with bone cancer, investigators altered the focus of their investigation Tuesday from a missing person case to that of a homicide investigation.According to the Charlotte Observer, investigators completed their work on the property by afternoon but were reticent about any findings. Search teams, including cadaver dogs, combed the wooded area twice on Tuesday as well.

Burke County Sheriff John McDevitt said that Adam Baker, who was present, had been "not exactly cooperative."

Cadaver dogs were alerted to a wood chipper and a mulch pile on the property Tuesday.Although those particular areas were reportedly the only two that the dogs were drawn toward, investigators searched other areas of the property as well.On Wednesday, more dogs were sent to the scene.About 50 investigators scoured the search area.

The property is owned by a foreman of the company, Real Tree Services, for which Adam Baker works. Adam Baker would have had access to the property, a former employee told WCNC-TV of Charlotte. Alvin Webb, a man who lives on the neighboring property, told reporters that a sheriff's deputy told him that the cadaver dogs had scored "many hits" on a wood chipper and a mulch pile on the property.

Zahra Clare Baker, although her father and stepmother reported her missing on Saturday afternoon, has not been seen by anyone outside of her home for several weeks. Hickory Police responded to a yard fire at the Baker household early Saturday morning.A couple of vehicles were set ablaze, but police found a ransom note on the windshield of one of the vehicles saying that they had kidnapped Adam Baker's boss' daughter and would kidnap his son as well if the unknown writer's ransom demands weren't met.

Authorities quickly learned that Baker's boss, Mark Coffey, and his family were fine, their children untouched.But later that afternoon, Adam reported his own daughter missing. He also told authorities that his wife, Elisa, told him she last saw Zahra around 2:30 a.m..

Elisa Baker was arrested on unrelated charges Sunday but was named a person of interest.She confessed to writing the ransom note Monday. She was arraigned on charges of obstructing justice (for writing the fabricated ransom note) Wednesday morning.

Search warrants for the Baker residence turned up human remains scent in two of the vehicles in Adam Baker's yard -- the same two that had been set on fire early Saturday morning. Warrants also noted that samples of what might have been blood were taken from the Bakers' SUV as well.

Zahra Baker has battled bone cancer her entire life.Born in Australia, she accompanied her father to the United States after he met his future wife online five years ago. Relatives of Elisa Baker and acquaintances of the family have made numerous statements that Elisa allegedly mistreated the little girl, who has a prosthetic leg and hearing aids for both ears.Police have also been unable to find anyone who has seen Zahra for several weeks.

Adam Baker, 33, has yet to be charged with a crime. On "Good Morning America" Monday, he said that it was possible that his wife might have done something to his daughter. He has since remained silent in the media.


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