Entries in Zhara Baker (2)


Search for Zahra Baker: 911 Tapes Released

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(HICKORY, N.C.) -- The Hickory, North Carolina police department Tuesday released the tapes of the two 911 calls that Adam and Elisa Baker made around the time their 10-year-old daughter, Zahra Baker, was reported missing.

WSOC-TV in Charlotte obtained the tape of the first call.  On Oct. 9, the day Zahra disappeared, her stepmother, Elisa Baker, reported a fire in the back of the family's home in Hickory.

"My husband works for a tree maintenance company and our backyard is on fire....We've got big mulch piles and wood piles...firewood and stuff," Elisa Baker told the 911 operator.

Police told WSOC-TV that they now believe the fire had been set deliberately, but no one has been charged in connection with the incident.

Eight hours later on the morning of Oct. 10, Adam Baker, 33, made a second 911 call to report his daughter was missing, police said.

"Hey, how are you doing? I need police," Baker said to one dispatcher, before he was transferred to a second dispatcher who took down his information.

On the tape with the second dispatcher, of which ABC News obtained a recording, Baker can be heard describing how the police had been out to his house the night before on a seemingly different case.

"The police were out here last night after finding a ransom note for my boss's daughter, I got up a little while ago and it appears they took my daughter instead of my boss's daughter," he told the 911 operator, saying that he last saw his daughter around 2:30 a.m. that night.

"I don't know if they set a fire in the yard to distract us to go out and then they snuck in the door, or, I don't know," he continued.  "Somebody had put gas in my company's truck that I drive for work.  They left the ransom note on the company vehicle to my boss saying they had his daughter and his son was next."

Later in the call, Baker can be heard chuckling with the dispatcher after he described his daughter's disappearance.

"My daughter's coming into puberty so she's in that brooding stage, so we only see her when she comes out, when she wants something," he said.

A prime suspect in the case, Elisa Baker, 42, is currently being held on an obstruction of justice charge after police said she admitted to writing the fake ransom note and demanding $1 million in unmarked bills.  Her court-appointed attorney said Elisa is "scared to death" and very emotional.  Baker continues to deny she had anything to do with Zahra's disappearance.

Hickory police also announced Tuesday that they are asking for Zahra's medical records, including the model, serial number and composition of the artificial leg she received from an Australian medical facility.  Deputy Police Chief Maj. Clyde Deal told ABC News that this was standard procedure for any case.  The 10-year-old had lost her hearing and left leg to cancer.

Authorities confirmed over the weekend that the missing girl was last seen alive on Sept. 25. 

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Photo of Zahra Baker Shows Black Eye

Photo Courtesy - Brandy Stapleton(HICKORY, N.C.) -- A new photograph of missing 10-year-old Zahra Baker with a bruise under her eye surfaced Wednesday as the search for her body focused on a wood chipper and mulch piles for any sign of her remains. The missing North Carolina 10-year-old, who lost her left leg and hearing in a battle with childhood cancer, is seen in a dimly lit cell phone image with what Baker family friend Brandy Stapleton called a visible bruise under her right eye. Stapleton said she took the photo, obtained exclusively by ABC News, on Aug. 9 -- the last day she saw the little girl.

Several former neighbors, along with one relative, have claimed Zahra's stepmother, Elisa Baker, repeatedly physically abused the girl. Baker, who was already in custody on unrelated charges, admitted Tuesday to writing a $1 million ransom note in connection with the case.

After that admission, she was charged with felony obstruction of justice and appeared in court today. She is being held on $40,000 bond.

The stepmother appeared in court briefly today and answered simple "yes" and "no" to the judge's questions, ABC News' Charlotte affiliate WSOC reported.

A lawyer for Baker said Tuesday his client claims she had nothing to do with Zahra's disappearance.

"She is scared to death," attorney Scott Reilly told WSOC Wednesday. "It's scary coming out here and seeing all the court reporters and courtroom of people who are so much against her right now."

Stapleton said on the day she took the picture of Zahra, the child seemed down and so she thought a picture could cheer her up. Baker initially told her not to take the picture, Stapleton said, because Zahra's eye was bruised. But Stapleton insisted because she wanted to see the little girl smile.

At the time, Stapleton said she didn't think much of the bruise because Zahra's stepmother would often say her daughter was clumsy.

Bobby Green, a former neighbor, told reporters Tuesday that Zahra frequently had bruises but Elisa Baker would always explain them away. "It's always she fell down, or she rolled out of bed or she didn't have her leg on right and couldn't walk right and fell. It's always Zahra's fault, for her injuries," Green said.

The girl was reported missing Saturday, but police said they can't find anyone beyond her parents who has seen her in weeks.

The wood chipper and nearby debris became the focus of the search after cadaver dogs made positive "hits" on the equipment Monday, officials told WSOC. Earlier, dogs signaled they had discovered signs of human remains in both vehicles belonging to the Bakers.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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