Grim Search Continues

Wednesday, October 13, 2010 - 10:03am

Police treating case of missing North Carolina girl as homicide.

Police, State Bureau of Investigation agents, sheriff's deputies and search dogs worked through the night Tuesday, searching an area in North Carolina's Burke County for 10-year-old Zahra Baker's remains.

The 10-year-old bone cancer survivor was reported missing Saturday.

On Tuesday, police called off an AMBER Alert and officially called the case a homicide investigation.

Zahra's stepmother, Elisa Baker, is a suspect in the case.

She is currently charged with felony obstruction of justice and is no longer speaking with investigators.

Her husband, Adam, has not been charged and is talking with officers, but he has not been cleared of wrongdoing.

On Wednesday Burke County Sheriff John McDevitt said search efforts were moving back to Hickory.

He did not say whether investigators found anything in Burke County.

The search represents the fourth day investigators visited the property.

McDevitt said approximately 50 investigators were on scene Tuesday, watching as a backhoe cleared brush.

The land searched belongs to the family of a foreman at the tree trimming company where Zahra's father, Adam, works.

It is an area where mulch, wood chips, and heavy equipment is stored.

Bobby Green, a former employee of the company, says Baker would have had access there.

"There's a lot of places to get rid of somebody over here. I hope not, but this the most cohorted effort that I've seen in the search so far," Green said.

Alvin Webb, who lives next door, said a deputy told him a cadaver dog smelled human remains on a mulch pile and on a wood chipper on the property.

McDevitt said Tuesday night there have been "many hits" but none that he would call conclusive.

McDevitt confirmed that Adam Baker was on site with investigators.

He characterized his behavior as "not exactly cooperative," adding that, in his opinion, Baker is not being truthful.

The timeline for the case is blurry.

Zahra was reported missing on Saturday, but police say it's been over a month since anyone other than the girl's father and stepmother has seen her. Elisa

Baker says she saw Zahra sleeping at 2:30 a.m. Saturday.

Adam Baker says he last saw his daughter the Thursday before was reported missing.

Green said he visited the home weeks ago, but Elisa Baker told him Zahra was sick and couldn't leave her room.

"Outside the immediate family, we cannot confirm that anyone has seen Zahra in the last month," Chief Adkins said.

That includes next-door neighbor Charles Bost, who says Zahra's father and stepmother, Adam and Elisa Baker, chatted with him in the yard once or twice and mentioned their dog.

He says in the month and a half the Baker's lived here, they never mentioned a daughter.

"I didn't even know that she existed. I mean I've never seen her and I never heard him mention her or anything like that," Bost said.

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