Prosthetic leg discovered in search for NC girl

HICKORY, N.C. (AP) — Searchers looking for the remains of a missing North Carolina girl with disabilities found a prosthetic leg and authorities were trying to determine if it was that of the 10-year-old, police said Wednesday.

Hickory Police Maj. Clyde Deal said searchers found the leg at a home where the stepmother of Zahra Clare Baker’s once lived. The girl had an artificial leg because she lost hers to bone cancer. Zahra, who also uses hearing aids, was reported missing Oct. 9 and authorities believe she is dead.

Deal also said a mattress found by workers at a Caldwell County landfill will be tested for DNA evidence.

The prosthetic leg was discovered Tuesday afternoon near some brush in Caldwell County near the home. Deal said the family lived at several locations in the county and that he wasn’t sure how long ago they occupied that house. Authorities on Tuesday took Elisa Baker to a home where she once lived and Deal said she was cooperating after being jailed since the weekend her stepdaughter was reported missing.

Adam and Elisa Baker told police they had last seen Zahra in her bed at their home in Hickory, about 50 miles northwest of Charlotte. But police don’t believe them.

Investigators said Zahra may have been alive when the family moved to a new home in North Carolina in mid-September, but they’ve had trouble finding anyone else who has seen her in recent months.

Elisa Baker, 42, has been charged with obstruction of justice. Police said she acknowledged to writing a bogus ransom note found at the scene of a fire in the family’s back yard on the day her stepdaughter was reported missing.

Adam Baker, 33, was arrested Monday. He is facing one count each of assault with a deadly weapon and failure to return rental property, two counts of communicating threats and five counts of writing worthless checks, authorities said. They are not related to his missing daughter’s case.

Authorities in recent weeks have combed wooded areas and a landfill for evidence or her body.

Adam Baker and his daughter lived in Australia until he met Elisa online and moved to North Carolina, where she was raised.

Hickory police have searched his house and property several times, though he insists he had nothing to do with Zahra’s disappearance. Police have not ruled him out as a suspect.

Neighbors and relatives have said that Elisa Baker was abusive toward her stepdaughter. Caldwell County Department of Social Services investigated the family because Zahra went to school with bruises and a teacher alerted school officials.

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