October 12, 2010 in Nation/World

Mystery surrounds missing girl, 10

Police have trouble fixing a timeline
Mitch Weiss Associated Press
 
Associated Press photo

This undated photo shows Zahra Clare Baker, a missing 10-year-old.
(Full-size photo)

HICKORY, N.C. – Investigators cast doubt Monday on accounts given by the father and stepmother of a missing 10-year-old whose battles with bone cancer left her with a prosthetic leg and hearing aids in both ears.

A search warrant revealed Monday that police dogs had detected the smell of human remains on cars belonging to the couple. Hours earlier, the police chief said investigators were having trouble finding anyone outside the household who had seen Zahra Clare Baker alive in the last few weeks.

The couple had told police they discovered the girl was missing on Saturday and that one of them had seen her sleeping in her room hours earlier. Yet Hickory police Chief Tom Adkins said investigators were having difficulty with that account.

“We don’t know the last time anyone saw her,” he said. “We’re having a difficult time establishing a true timeline.”

Zahra’s father, Adam Baker, said during an earlier TV interview that it was possible his wife could be involved in the disappearance, which was reported hours after a fire in the home’s backyard. Elisa Baker was arrested Sunday on about a dozen charges unrelated to the girl’s disappearance.

Adkins said a ransom note and other evidence were found at the house but wouldn’t elaborate. A reporter saw what appeared to be remnants of clothes among burned branches from the fire at the scene.

Adkins said the father was cooperating with police, but Elisa Baker wasn’t.

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