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 ZAHRA CLAIRE BAKER

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sanny
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PostSubject: Investigators continue to searh for Zahra   Sun Oct 17, 2010 7:41 am

Investigators continue to search for Zahra







Zahra and her stepmother, Elisa Baker, at a hearing-aid giveaway in Charlotte.


Related Links

» Gallery: Disappearance of Zahra Baker




By Richard Gould
Published: October 16, 2010

winstonsalem_782:http://www2.hickoryrecord.com/news/2010/oct/16/investigators-continue-search-zahra-ar-462505/
HICKORY --

Hickory police investigators announced Saturday that they have discovered a witness outside of the Baker family who saw Zahra on Sept. 25 – two weeks before she was reported missing.


Officers originally said that they hadn’t been able to find anyone outside the family who had seen the 10-year-old girl more recently than a month before her stepmother, Elisa Baker, reported her missing on Oct. 9.

Police have received more than 200 tips from the public since they began their investigation. Many tips are being called into other agencies and officers are following up on each one that is received.

Investigators and K-9 teams are continuing to search for the missing child at various locations including near the family’s numerous former addresses. They searched a wooded area near the Country Manor Estates trailer park in Hudson.


Elisa Baker has been in the Catawba County jail since Sunday morning when she was arrested on nine outstanding warrants for more than a dozen unrelated charges. She was charged with obstruction of justice Tuesday after confessing to police that she’d written a fake ransom note demanding $1 million. Baker is being held on a total secure bond of $72,200.

The community is reeling in the wake of Zahra’s disappearance and the Tuesday announcement that investigators are treating the case as a homicide.


A shrine to Zahra with candles, stuffed toys, scriptures and messages of hope continues to grow in front of the Baker family’s northwest Hickory home.


Some mourn, some cry, others are angry and Elisa Baker is the focus of their rage.
A man in a van rode by the house and shook his fist in the air.

“Hang the stepmom, hang the stepmom,” he shouted as two women knelt at the shrine and prayed.


Investigators are still asking for help from the public as they try to find Zahra and solve the case. Anyone with information about Zahra Baker’s whereabouts or information about her disappearance is asked to call the Hickory Police Department at 328-5551.
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PostSubject: Missing girl's case highlights DSS issues   Sun Oct 17, 2010 7:48 am

Missing girl's case highlights DSS issues


Search for Hickory girl renews questions about child protection system.



By Fred Clasen-Kelly and Lisa Hammersly
frkelly@charlotteobserver.com and lhammersly@charlotteobserver.com
Posted: Sunday, Oct. 17, 2010




Full Slideshow

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  • Zahra Baker attends a Starkey Hearing Foundation event at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 10. Zahra, along with nearly 100 other hearing impaired people from the Carolinas, was fitted that day with hearing aids. In addition to her hearing problems, Zahra lost a leg to bone cancer. COURTESY OF CHARLOTTE MOTOR SPEEDWAY


  • Family friends and loved ones have built a memorial shrine for Zahra Baker around a tree in front of her house in Hickory. FRANCO ORDOÑEZ - fordonez@charlotteobserver.com
  • Officers remove a mattress from the Bakers' home Friday as Hickory police search the house for more evidence in the disappearance case of Zahra Clare Baker. ROBERT C. REED - HICKORY DAILY RECORD/AP
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2010/10/10/21/amberupdate_GE61PGNT8.1+baker.JPG.embedded.prod_affiliate.138.jpg|395

    E. Baker


  • Adam Baker, who was at his home while investigators searched it for possible evidence Friday, says he wants to find Zahra and take her home to her native Australia. ROBERT C. REED - HICKORY DAILY RECORD/AP


More Information






Friends and family worried that 10-year-old Zahra Baker was in danger.
They saw bruises and a black eye. They questioned her parents. And they reported suspected abuse to the Department of Social Services.
Now, police believe the missing Hickory girl whose story has captured worldwide attention is dead. They are investigating her disappearance as a homicide and last week jailed her stepmother, who they say admitted writing a phony ransom note.
As the search for the girl entered its second week Saturday, people are left asking: Why didn't someone protect Zahra?
And the case raises fresh questions about North Carolina's long-troubled child protection system.
DSS officials in Caldwell and Catawba counties, where the Bakers most recently lived, say state law prohibits them from talking about any involvement they might have had with Zahra or her family. It's not clear how any abuse allegations might have been handled.
But the state's own reviews show it's not uncommon for children to die in North Carolina under suspicious circumstances while their families are under DSS supervision or had recent contact with social workers.
At least 137 children died during a recent five-year period in cases where abuse or neglect were suspected to have contributed - even though DSS had contact with their families within 12 months before they died, the Observer found. That's up from 119 deaths during the prior five years. And it comes at a time when child deaths overall in the state are at a record low.
Most of the 137 died from illnesses or accidents, but at least 26 became victims of homicide, usually committed by relatives or caregivers.
More than a decade ago, state officials began to pass reforms that were supposed to prevent such cases. They hired more social workers, lowered recommended caseloads and adopted a less confrontational approach with most families, which is designed to build cooperation.
The head of the N.C. Division of Social Services, Sherry Bradsher, said the changes have vastly improved the child protection system.
Instances of abuse recurring within six months in families under supervision has declined from about 7 percent in 2004 to about 5 percent in 2009.
"We have implemented so many reforms that are working," Bradsher said. "Workers feel better. Feedback from parents is better than it's ever been."
But state reports and interviews show long-standing problems persist.
Expert reviews of the child deaths found mistakes had been made by social workers and were often linked to inexperience and heavy caseloads. In more than half of the 137 deaths, social workers weren't thorough in evaluating a family or didn't follow state guidelines, the Observer found. In one child death in Rowan County, a state report shows, the case was given to a social work intern.
And case workers often have difficulty getting child protective service records for families who have lived outside their county. In cases such as Zahra's, whose family moved between counties, social workers may have limited information to assess a child's safety.
Tom Vitaglione said Zahra's disappearance should sound alarms about child protection in the state. He co-chairs the N.C. Child Fatality Taskforce, which recommends child safety improvements to the General Assembly.
"I am not comfortable with where things are," Vitaglione said. "I don't think DSS is comfortable either."
Troubling signs
Zahra's wide smile and story of overcoming adversity have drawn attention to her disappearance, reported Oct. 9. Family and acquaintances describe her as a polite child, courageous while coping with bone cancer, and memorable for her Australian accent.
At age 5, she lost her left leg below the knee to bone cancer, a condition that also left her hearing-impaired.
She moved to the United States last year with her father, Adam Baker, after he started an online romance with his wife-to-be, Elisa Baker of North Carolina.
Trouble soon began.
At a vigil for Zahra last week, family friend Lindsay Parker told the crowd that family members had reported suspected abuse of Zahra to the Department of Social Services on three occasions.
"They tried," Parker said of the family members. "They really tried."
Libby Brown, a spokeswoman for the Caldwell County Schools, told the Observer that staff had visited the girl's home and sought help for Zahra from an "outside partner" because staff was concerned. But she wouldn't elaborate, citing confidentiality laws.
Zahra attended the district's Granite Falls Elementary and Hudson Elementary, where she completed fourth grade in the spring.
Bobby Green said he lived next door to the Bakers for about a year in the Caldwell County town of Hudson, about 70 miles northwest of Charlotte.
Green, 27, who has two 8-year-old daughters, said Zahra often came over to play. He and his fiancée, Kayla Rotenberry, 23, said Elisa Baker would leave Zahra locked alone in the house for hours.
In the spring, Zahra came over for an Easter egg hunt. The girls searched the yard looking for red, yellow, and white eggs.
Rotenberry and Green said they noticed bruises on Zahra. But when they asked the girl about it she wouldn't say anything. When they asked her parents what happened, Green said: "It was always, Zahra fell down. Zahra fell out of bed. It was always, Zahra had done something."
Elisa Baker's attorney, Scott Reilly, wouldn't discuss specific allegations but said generally some people have "embellished, exaggerated or made up" stories of abuse.
He confirmed that DSS had received and investigated reports of child abuse against his client, but said social workers found the accusations "unsubstantiated."
Hasty investigations
Whenever a child dies in North Carolina and abuse or neglect is suspected to have played a role, the state convenes a review team to figure out what went wrong.
The team of DSS officials, police and other professionals review case files and recommend improvements in a public report that aims to prevent future deaths.
The Observer analyzed reports of the 137 child deaths between 2003 and 2008, which included asphyxiation, illnesses, drowning, shootings, car accidents and physical abuse.
Social workers were most often cited for errors, but so were law enforcement and others. Here are some findings from the newspaper's study:
In 71 deaths, reviewers said social workers were not thorough in their investigation of abuse or neglect allegations, or in resolving them. Sometimes they looked too narrowly at a single problem instead of all issues surrounding the child's welfare. In the 2007 death of a Mecklenburg baby, who accidentally suffocated while sleeping with someone on a couch, social workers were criticized for failing to assess risk, properly review prior child protective records and maintain sufficient contact with the family.
In at least 51 deaths - more than one-third - social workers weren't told about additional incidents of suspected abuse in those families. State law requires any resident who suspects child abuse or neglect to report it to DSS. Among those who did not, one report found, were Winston-Salem police, who didn't notify DSS about numerous domestic violence calls to the home where a 5-year-old died of an Oxycodone overdose.
Forty reports said social workers or others had trouble getting previous child welfare records, usually from outside their counties or states. A Richmond County case involving a child who died of physical abuse suggested that county social workers got limited information from the state's central registry of child services cases, but not enough detail and background. And social workers didn't follow up with the family's previous county DSS to learn more.
Twenty-seven reports found DSS was too thinly staffed and that caseworkers carried loads far beyond what the state recommended - which meant they didn't have enough time to spend with each family. In a 2006 Stanly County death, the social worker was new and carrying 25 cases; the state standard was 12.
In Caldwell and Catawba counties, where the Bakers lived, some social workers were carrying twice as many cases in recent years as the state recommended. The problem was highlighted in reviews of child deaths that occurred in those counties in 2006 and 2007. Current caseloads weren't available last week as DSS officials declined requests for interviews.
'In the Stone Age'
DSS leaders say reform efforts during the last decade have made kids safer.
They've bolstered training for social workers and adopted a holistic approach that aims to get more cooperation from families under scrutiny for abuse or neglect.
When children are not in imminent danger, the family-friendly initiative pushes social workers to offer services to help parents overcome problems such as substance abuse, unemployment and a lack of parenting skills.
Bradsher, the state DSS director, said the approach has helped protect children and kept families intact.
But child advocates counter that social workers continue to struggle with high caseloads and low budgets.
They note that North Carolina spends about $43 per capita on child protection, less than all but eight states, according a 2009 study by Every Child Matters, a Washington-based advocacy group.
Brett Loftis, who heads Charlotte's Council for Children's Rights, said children lack a strong constituency in politics.
Caseworkers simply do not have enough resources, Loftis said. "We are in the Stone Age as far as children go."

**CharlotteObserver
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PostSubject: Woman may have been last to see girl   Sun Oct 17, 2010 7:53 am

Woman may have been last to see girl


Manager at Hickory store recalls seeing Zahra Baker Sept. 25; search continues.



Franco Ordoñez
fordonez@charlotteobserver.com
Posted: Sunday, Oct. 17, 2010



Full Slideshow

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  • Adams



  • Zahra Baker attends a Starkey Hearing Foundation event at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 10. Zahra, along with nearly 100 other hearing impaired people from the Carolinas, was fitted that day with hearing aids. In addition to her hearing problems, Zahra lost a leg to bone cancer.
    E. Baker


  • 10/12/2010 - Hickory police chief Tom Adkins speaks at a press conference on Tuesday, announcing that the search for Zahra Baker was being changed to a homicide investigation. JEFF WILLHELM - jwillhelm@charlotteobserver.comBuy Photo | Store


More Information






HICKORY Pat Adams worries she may have been one of the last people to see 10-year-old Zahra Baker alive.
A floor manager at a Hickory furniture store, Adams was working when Zahra came into the store on Sept. 25 with her stepmother and another woman, Adams said on Saturday.
"What made me notice her was she had a little hearing aid," she said. "She was a darling little girl. She had the cutest freckles."
Police reviewed the store's security video for their homicide investigation and said it was the last day Zahra was seen by someone other than a family member.
Adams said around 11 a.m. two women walked towards the back of the store. They were looking at a love seat when Adams asked if they needed help. They answered they were just looking.
Adams later almost bumped into Zahra, who was in an aisle staring into a small room of children's furniture.
The room, painted bright green, had two twin beds and three tiny chairs in front of a television playing "SpongeBob SquarePants." Zahra was immersed in the cartoon.
Adams walked by Zahra, who was dressed in a T-shirt and stretchy pants. Adams reached down to touch her shoulder not wanting to startle the little girl.
Adams remembers Zahra looking up and smiling.
Hickory police said investigative teams searched several areas on Saturday for Zahra, who is hearing impaired and has a prosthetic leg and was reported missing last weekend.
Until now, police couldn't confirm that anyone outside the household had seen Zahra in the last month.
Zahra's stepmother, Elisa Baker, is in jail, charged with obstruction of justice after admitting to writing a bogus ransom note.
Her father, Adam Baker, has not been charged, but police have not ruled him out as a suspect. On Friday, he told reporters that he thought his daughter was still alive.
The case has confounded investigators who continue to search for any clues to the missing girl's whereabouts.
They've searched at least three homes where the Bakers had lived. They've gone back to Adam Baker's job site, a tree trimming company, at least five times and drained a nearby pond looking for Zahra.
As the investigation enters its second week, the community is rallying around the police department and its chief, Tom Adkins.
Hank Guess said residents are frustrated that they can't do more, but have faith that local police officers will find Zahra, hopefully alive.
"People are not treating this like just another case," said Guess, a city councilman. "There is a lot of compassion."
Adkins' compassion has resonated with the public. During an emotional press conference Monday, he bit his lip to hold back tears when he declared the case was being turned into a homicide investigation.
Adkins is an advocate for children, having served as a board member of the Children's Advocacy Center of Catawba County and a volunteer with the Children's Protection Council.
City Council member Jill Patton described Adkins as a thorough and methodical leader.
"He's also a parent," she said. "That has to weigh on the back of your mind."
Patton said residents are unsettled that such a thing could happen in Hickory. They want closure. Some are questioning how this could happen and how to prevent it from happening again.
"I've asked myself, 'Do I know every kid on my street?'" she said.
Police have received more than 200 tips from the public.
After Zahra left the store, Pat Adams remembers talking with her colleagues about Zahra. One of them noticed Zahra had a prosthetic leg.
"We thought it was so tragic that someone so young could lose a leg," she said.
She said it broke her heart when she realized the picture of the missing girl online and in news reports was the same girl who had just been in the store weeks before.
Tears welling in her eyes, she said, "I just wish to God I would have known."



The Charlotte Observer.
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PostSubject: Furniture store employees put Zahra in Hickory two weeks before disappearance   Sun Oct 17, 2010 8:33 am

Furniture store employees put Zahra in Hickory two weeks before disappearance

")




by BETH SHAYNE / NewsChannel 36
E-mail Beth: BShayne@WCNC.com

WCNC.com

Posted on October 15, 2010 at 10:47 PM

Updated yesterday at 12:43 PM





HICKORY, N.C.--Employees of a furniture store in Hickory tell police they saw missing 10-year-old Zahra Baker shopping with her stepmom there two weeks before she disappeared.
"We have cartoons for children playing on the TVs... and she was standing in the aisleway. As I walked past, I just touched her on the shoulder and said ‘Excuse me, sweetheart’ and she just looked up at me and smiled," floor manager Pat Adams told NewsChannel 36.
Adams said another salesperson remembered Elisa Baker calling the little girl, "Zahra."
Other employees of the "In Your Home Furnishings" store on US-70 noted the little girl's prostetic leg.
"We saw on TV about the little girl was missing and we started talking about it, and that was who it was—the little girl," explained Israel Valle.
Police tell NewsChannel 36 this information is the only tip that confirms that Zahra Baker was ever in Hickory alive.
Her parents, Elisa and Adam, had moved to Catawba County this summer, but until receiving the phone call from "In Your Home Furnishings," Hickory police chief Tom Adkins said only the Bakers told them Zahra lived in their new home.
Investigators remain convinced that this is a homicide investigation. Elisa Baker faces a felony obstruction of justice charge for writing a ransom note police say was fake. Adam Baker has not been charged.
Investigators and cadaver dogs searched Zahra Baker's house in Hickory Friday with Adam's consent.
Outside, investigators say the dogs did not get a hit on blood, human remains or decomposition. Investigators did not say what they found inside the home.
NewsChannel 36 saw crews removing Zahra's mattresses and bed railings, saying search dogs will use these to constantly have her scent.
After the search, Adam Baker, who police say is cooperating, wasn't answering questions.
"Everybody knows more than I do," said Adam Baker.
Police also searched the Baker's former apartment in Granite Falls Friday.
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PostSubject: Timeline in the disappearance of Zahra Baker   Sun Oct 17, 2010 4:32 pm

Timeline in the disappearance of Zahra Baker





By Larry Clark
Published: October 17, 2010


HICKORY --


Oct. 7, Thursday p.m.: Adam Baker says he last saw his daughter in bed after he returned home from work that night.

Oct. 9, Saturday, 2:30 a.m.: Zahra was reportedly last seen sleeping in her bed in her Hickory home by her stepmother, Elisa Baker.

Saturday, 5:20 a.m.: Hickory firefighters respond to small grass fire at Baker home, 21 21st Ave. NW.

Saturday, 5:30 a.m.: At the home, a Hickory police officer finds the passenger door of a 1996 Chevy Tahoe open, the smell of gasoline coming from inside and a handwritten ransom note on the front windshield. Ransom note says the daughter of Mark Coffey, the home’s owner, has been taken, and his son would be, too. But police see Coffey and his daughter at the home and they are OK.

Saturday, 6:41 a.m.: Hickory police and fire department leave the home, after investigating fire and refer to it as arson.

Saturday 2 p.m.: Elisa Baker reports Zahra missing to police. Adam Baker tells police someone poured gas in his vehicle and left a note saying they had his boss’s daughter,.

Oct. 10, Sunday, 10:45 a.m.: Elisa Baker, Zahra stepmother, is arrested on several charges unrelated to the case. The charges include writing bad checks and failing to return property.

Sunday: Police gather surveillance video from businesses near the home in an attempt to trace events leading to Zahra’s disappearance.

Sunday 1 p.m.: Search and rescue dog gives a positive alert for the presence of human remains in or on two vehicles, the Chevy Tahoe and a 1999 Toyota Camry. Police impound both vehicles.

Sunday afternoon: Hickory police officers go door-to-door throughout Zahra’s neighborhood, talking to dozens of residents and handing out Zahra’s photograph. Officers ask permission to search peoples’ outbuildings, like sheds and nearby woods.

Oct. 11, Monday, 8 a.m.: Adam Baker appears on “Good Morning America” with Hickory Police Chief Tom Adkins and pleas for anyone with information to come forward.

Monday, 3 p.m.: At a news conference, police reveal that search warrants have been issued for the Bakers’ vehicles. Adkins says investigators are having trouble finding anyone who has seen Zahra in the last few weeks.

Also Monday: Investigators focus on the Burke County site where Adam Baker works. Burke County Sheriff’s Office joins the probe. K-9 unit detects suspicious odors in log and mulch piles and a wood chipper.

Oct. 12, Tuesday, 10:30 a.m.: The AMBER alert is cancelled by Hickory police. Chief Adkins says Zahra’s disappearance is now a homicide investigation after Elisa Baker admits to writing the ransom note. She is charged with obstruction of justice. Adkins says police can’t confirm Zahra’s whereabouts in the last month.

Tuesday, 9 p.m.: Adkins arrives at the Burke County site where a second search is under way. Fred Causby, foreman of Real Tree Services, says Adam Baker is a hard worker, but he has doubts about Elisa Baker.

Also Tuesday: Former neighbors and some family members begin to express concerns they had about Zahra’s home life, saying she was abused. Some say they think Elisa Baker killed Zahra. The Bakers’ neighbors in Hickory say they never saw Zahra.

Oct. 13, Wednesday morning: Elisa Baker has first appearance in court on obstruction charge. Her bond on that charge is set at $40,000, bringing her total bond to $72,200. Her court-appointed attorney, Scott Reilly, says he will seek a bond reduction. A probable cause hearing for Baker is set for Nov. 3.

Wednesday, 6 p.m.: East Hickory Baptist Church holds a vigil for Zahra. More than 300 people attend.

Also Wednesday: Adam and Zahra Baker’s relatives in Australia react to the news of Zahra’s disappearance with shock and dismay. Adam’s mother defends her son, saying he’s not responsible. Investigators continue to search the Burke County work site and expand the probe to Caldwell County, where the Bakers lived before moving to Hickory. K-9 units again search the property where the Bakers live in northwest Hickory, and remove a Dumpster near the home for examination.

Oct. 14, Thursday: Police say they are looking at more than 100 leads called in by the public. More accounts come to light from former neighbors that Zahra may have been mistreated, while others say they never saw her. The Bakers’ former apartment manager says she saw Zahra the day the family moved in (July 2009), but never saw her again, even though they lived in the unit next to hers.

Police report they are searching sites in three counties with cadaver dogs. Counseling is offered for Zahra’s former classmates at Hudson and Granite Falls elementary schools.

Thursday, 7 p.m.: First Baptist Church in Hudson holds a celebration of life in honor of Zahra. Burke County Sheriff’s Office announces the search at Real Tree Services site has been wrapped up, and no evidence was found there.

Oct. 15, Friday, 10:30 to 12:30: Hickory police search the Bakers’ house with Adam Baker’s consent. K-9 units assist. Evidence is taken from the house, including a mattress. Baker expresses his appreciation to the public and law officers, saying I just hope they just keep looking. Try to find my baby.” A collection of stuffed animals, notes and other items in the Bakers’ front yard continues to grow.

Also Friday: Elisa Baker remains in jail, and Scott Reilly files a petition to lower her bond for obstruction of justice.

Oct. 16, Saturday morning: Investigators narrow their timeline to Sept. 25 as the last time Zahra was seen by someone other than a family member. Police say they have received more than 200 tips from the public along with many tips that are being called into other agencies and continue to follow up on each one that is received.
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PostSubject: Fear rising amid search for Zahra   Mon Oct 18, 2010 10:00 am

Fears rising amid search for Zahra


Church holds prayer vigil as well-wishers leave notes and teddy bears for girl outside her family's home.



By Meghan Cooke
macooke@charlotteobserver.com
Posted: Monday, Oct. 18, 2010




Full Slideshow

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  • A steady stream of people has visited the house on 21st Avenue N.W. in Hickory where Zahra Baker's family lives. JEFF WILLHELM - jwillhelm@charlotteobserver.comBuy Photo | Store


  • A tree outside Zahra Baker's family home in Hickory was covered with notes and pictures on Sunday. Some were from children. JEFF WILLHELM - STAFF PHOTO


    10/12/2010 - Hickory police chief Tom Adkins speaks at a press conference on Tuesday, announcing that the search for Zahra Baker was being changed to a homicide investigation. JEFF WILLHELM - jwillhelm@charlotteobserver.com


  • Adam Baker, who was at his home while investigators searched it for possible evidence Friday, says he wants to find Zahra and take her home to her native Australia. ROBERT C. REED - HICKORY DAILY RECORD/AP


More Information






As the search continues for missing 10-year-old Zahra Baker, people in the Hickory area Sunday were growing increasingly eager for answers.
"I've been worrying about her," said Wanda Clark, as she waited for the Sunday morning service to begin at First Baptist Church of Hudson, where hundreds gathered Thursday for a prayer vigil for the missing girl.
Zahra was first reported missing Oct. 9. Her stepmother, Elisa Baker, admitted to writing a phony ransom note and is being held in jail, charged with obstruction of justice.
Zahra's father, Adam Baker, told reporters Friday that he thought his daughter was still alive.
Police announced the case is being investigated as a homicide, but after extensive searches, Zahra, a cancer survivor who used a prosthetic leg and hearing aids, has not been found. Hickory police Sunday did not release any new information on the status of the search.
Clark said she keeps thinking about her own granddaughter, a 10-year-old who went to Hudson Elementary School with Zahra last year.
"She'll say, 'Have they found her, Nana?'" Clark said.
Roger Moss, minister of youth and children at Hudson's First Baptist Church, led a prayer in which he asked the congregation to keep Zahra in their prayers and asked God to watch over the community.
"May you be in the midst of (the search for Zahra)," he prayed. "And may you bring closure sooner rather than later."
The Rev. Mack Jarvis said the community is haunted by the circumstances surrounding Zahra's disappearance.
"Folks are devastated by the possibilities," he said. "Those are the things that break our hearts."
Sunday afternoon, a makeshift memorial in the front yard of the Bakers' home in Hickory grew as locals stopped by to drop off notes and teddy bears for Zahra.
Andrea Vickers of Hickory stopped by the tree to pick up a photo of Zahra that had fallen to the ground.
"A little girl like that shouldn't have to go through something like this," she said.
Strangers shook their heads as they stopped to see the memorial and talked to one another. "I just hope there's a resolution," said Michael Kanai of Hickory.
Kanai's 6-year-old daughter, Samantha Kanai, brought a card she made for Zahra.
"Dear Zahra," she wrote in bright colored markers. "I hope you're OK and I hope they find you. I know you are scared."
Relatives and neighbors of the Bakers' have reported that they suspected that Zahra was being abused, and some said they had shared their suspicions with the Department of Social Services.
A Hickory-based nonprofit Christian counseling ministry has started a fund in Zahra's name. They were out raising donations for the fund Sunday.
"This little girl survived cancer twice, and she couldn't survive her own home," Tim Curtis, a Spiritual Counseling Network counselor, said into a bullhorn outside the Wal-Mart in nearby Granite Falls. "We're calling on your mercy and compassion."
The staff of the Spiritual Counseling Network also is collecting donations for the Zahra Baker Fund through a website, [url=http://www.zahrabaker.com]www.zahrabaker.com[/url].
Initially, money raised will help law enforcement in their investigation, said the Rev. Brandon Greeson, the ministry's director of marketing and outreach.
The money will also be used to offer counseling services to people affected by Zahra's disappearance, including her classmates and teachers, as well as law enforcement involved in the case.
If her body is recovered, the fund will help provide Zahra a proper funeral, Greeson said, and in the long term, the fund will support organizations working to fight child abuse.
"We don't want Zahra to be known as the little girl killed in Hickory," Greeson said. "We want her to be known as a little girl who meant something."

**CharlotteObserver
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PostSubject: Zahra: Adam Baker 911 Call Transcripts   Mon Oct 18, 2010 8:25 pm

Zahra: Adam Baker 911 Call Transcripts





The 911 call from Adam Baker begins with, "Hey, how ya doing?"

911 calls of domestic homicide that begin with a greeting are likely "guilty callers" with either first hand guilt or first hand guilty knowledge of the murder
editing....


"I need police"

Guilty callers speak first of their own needs and will often ask for help for themselves and not for the victim.

Adam Baker says his daughter is alive.


Will Zahra Be Found Alive?
No
Yes
pollcode.com free polls


editing....

Posted by Seamus O Riley at 5:04 PM
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PostSubject: Attorney denies abuse claims against missing girl's stepmother   Mon Oct 18, 2010 10:04 pm

Attorney denies abuse claims against missing girl's stepmother

By the CNN Wire Staff
October 18, 2010 9:42 p.m. EDT




No one has seen 10-year-old Zahra Baker since September 25, and the local sheriff believes she is dead.

STORY HIGHLIGHTS


  • NEW: Last sighting outside family is September 25 at a furniture store
  • Stepmother jailed on bad-check charges; missing girl thought dead
  • Attorney: "There was never anything substantiated regarding child abuse"
  • Attorney: Woman who says girl was kept in the attic "has squirrels in her head"



(CNN) -- The stepmother of a 10-year-old North Carolina girl reported missing more than a week ago never abused the girl despite allegations from relatives and friends of the family, the woman's attorney said Monday.
Attorney Scott Reilly said that "whatever investigation was done there was never anything substantiated regarding child abuse by Elisa Baker."
"The lady saying they were keeping Zahra in the attic, and they thought it was squirrels, that lady has squirrels in her head," Reilly said. "She had no business saying things that were untrue. Someone else says she was kept in a locked room and only allowed to come out five minutes a day to eat. Those people [reporting that information] should have their media credentials revoked."
Earlier, a relative said that the alleged abuse was reported to the state Department of Social Services but the relative did not know the outcome. The state office said such a report would have been handled by a county office but that the agency is barred from commenting because of strict confidentiality laws.
Burke County Sheriff John McDevitt has said she is believed to be dead. Her disappearance is being investigated as a homicide.
Deputy Sheriff Clyde Deal said the allegations of abuse would eventually be investigated.

"Those are things that would have to be looked into down the road," he said. "This family didn't move in our jurisdiction until mid-July, so many of the allegations happened in other jurisdictions."
Zahra Baker was reported missing October 9, Burke County police said, and no one other than a family member has reported seeing her since September 25. At that time, said Deal, a woman reported seeing the girl at a furniture store.
Deal said authorities have been in contact with Zahra's mother, who lives in Australia, where the girl was born.
"We're speaking to her on a regular basis," Deal said. "She's very concerned, and she's very appreciative of everything being done to solve this case."
The deputy said authorities are not clear on the circumstances of the split between the mother and father.
Police said last week that the stepmother, Elisa Baker, admitted to writing a fake ransom note that was left at the family's home. She was arrested October 10 on an unrelated charge of passing bad checks, prosecutors said, and has been charged with obstructing justice for the fake ransom note.
Elisa Baker remains jailed on those charges. Her bail has been set at a combined $70,000, an amount her lawyer called excessive. Police said the girl's father, Adam Baker, also faces bad-check charges, but is not being arrested while he assists police.
Reilly said he filed a motion to reduce Elisa Baker's bond, and a hearing has been set for Wednesday.
Authorities have spent days combing an area about 20 miles north of Zahra's home in Hickory, North Carolina. Last week, as many as 70 searchers were backed by dogs and a backhoe that was used to clear piles of wood and mulch, McDevitt said.
Zahra reportedly suffered from bone cancer and used a prosthetic leg and hearing aids. The hearing aids have been found, but not the prosthesis, Hickory Police Chief Tom Adkins has said.

Hickory is about 60 miles northwest of Charlotte
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PostSubject: Police getting medical records of missing girl   Tue Oct 19, 2010 11:04 am

Police getting medical records of missing girl

By the CNN Wire Staff




October 19, 2010 8:08 a.m. EDT






911 calls in Zahra Baker case released



STORY HIGHLIGHTS




  • Police did not specify what kind of records they are seeking
  • Zahra, 10, was last seen September 25
  • Police are investigating her disappearance as a homicide



Hickory, North Carolina (CNN) -- North Carolina authorities have been in contact with Zahra Baker's biological mother in Australia and have asked for the medical records of the missing 10-year-old girl.
"We're in the process of getting medical information from Australia, and we're in the process of getting medical records here," said Clyde Deal, the deputy police chief of Hickory on Monday.
Officials did not specify what kind of medical records they were seeking. Dental records are sometimes used to identify a body. Although authorities believe Zahra is dead, her remains have not been found.
Burke County Sheriff John McDevitt has said that Zahra's disappearance is being investigated as a homicide.
Zahra was reported missing October 9 and no one other than a family member has reported seeing her since September 25, when a woman reported seeing her at a furniture store, Deal said.
Police have been searching for the girl in and around the city of Hickory.

"We're speaking to her on a regular basis," Deal said of Zahra's biological mother. "She's very concerned, and she's very appreciative of everything being done to solve this case."
The deputy police chief said authorities are not clear on the circumstances of the split between the mother and father.
Police said last week that the girl's stepmother, Elisa Baker, admitted to writing a fake ransom note that was left at the family's home. She was arrested October 10 on unrelated charges, including writing worthless checks. More recently, authorities charged her with obstruction of justice, a felony, after she admitted writing the fake note, according to Hickory Police Chief Tom Adkins.
Elisa Baker remains jailed on those charges. Her bail has been set at a combined $70,000, an amount her lawyer called excessive.
Police said the girl's father, Adam Baker, also faces bad-check charges, but has not been arrested. He is assisting police in their search. "Every time we ask him to be somewhere, he's there," Deal said.
The disappearance of Zahra -- a freckle-faced youngster who uses a prosthetic leg and hearing aids -- has made international news. The girl lost her leg to bone cancer, according to CNN affiliate WCNC.
Family members and neighbors have told reporters that Zahra's stepmother had abused her. Her attorney, Scott Reilly, vehemently denied those allegations during an interview Monday.
"Whatever investigation was done, there was never anything substantiated regarding child abuse by Elisa Baker," he said.
"The lady saying they were keeping Zahra in the attic, and they thought it was squirrels, that lady has squirrels in her head," Reilly said, referring to a woman who spoke to the media. "She had no business saying things that were untrue. Someone else says she was kept in a locked room and only allowed to come out five minutes a day to eat. Those people [reporting that information] should have their media credentials revoked."
Earlier, a relative said that the alleged abuse was reported to the state Department of Social Services but the relative did not know the outcome.
The state office said such a report would have been handled by a county office but that the agency is barred from commenting because of strict confidentiality laws.

Reilly said he has filed a motion to reduce Elisa Baker's bond, and a hearing has been set for Wednesday.
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PostSubject: Police examining fund for Zahra   Tue Oct 19, 2010 11:14 am

Police examining fund for Zahra


Donors contribute as questions raised about organization







Photo of Zahra Claire Baker



ABOUT THE SPIRITUAL COUNSELING NETWORK
The Spiritual Counseling Network describes itself as a a non-profit Christian ministry that provides Christian counseling and pastoral care services to Catawba, Burke, Caldwell and surrounding counties.
The network is incorporated as a church, and is not required to file with the Internal Revenue Service, according to the Rev. Brandon Greeson, director of marketing and outreach.
“Since we officially formed in June of this year, we have not yet made the determination on rather to incorporate as 501(c)3 — a process that takes a number of months to complete, in itself,” Greeson said.
According to the website, “It is the mission of Spiritual Counseling Network to follow the Lord’s call, as given to us in the Gospel of Luke 4:18 — to preach the gospel to the poor, to heal the brokenhearted, to set at liberty those who are oppressed and to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.
“This mission shall be accomplished by bringing together all of the resources of our community to heal hearts and touch lives through quality, affordable and non-judgmental services.”
The board of directors also includes Dr. Timothy Curtis, director of operations and Christian counselor; and the Rev. Uziel Medina, director of quality and services and Latino outreach coordinator.
According to Greeson and Curtis, “Spiritual Counseling Network is a registered non-profit corporation with the State of North Carolina and can be found by searching the ‘Corporations’ section on the N.C. Secretary of State’s website.”

For more, go to www.ncchristiancounselors.com
View more




By Larry Clark
Published: October 19, 2010
Updated: October 19, 2010 - 10:03 AM



HICKORY --

Hickory police are looking into an organization soliciting funds for Zahra Baker.

The Zahra Baker Fund, Creating a Legacy Out of Tragedy, was formed by the Spiritual Counseling Network.

The Hickory-based network says the fund was “created to assist in the investigation and/or prosecution of the disappearance of Zahra Claire Baker. The Fund exists to support law enforcement’s efforts to investigate and prosecute the case, to provide access to counseling services to those impacted by the case, to give Zahra a rightful funeral (in the event of her death) and to support organizations that fight child abuse and exploitation.”

Hickory police, in a news release, said the department has not been contacted by this group or has been given any information of their intent for this fund. HPD intends to explore this matter in greater detail without diverting resources from the investigation of Zahra.

Brandon Greeson, spokesman for Spiritual Counseling Network and the fund for Zahra, said Monday that the organization e-mailed and faxed the police department about the fund for Zahra on Monday.

Police officials went on to say that the department has been working with Team Adam from the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.
“Team Adam provides rapid, on-site assistance to law enforcement agencies and families in cases of missing, abducted, and exploited children,” a police news release stated.

“Its members are retired law-enforcement professionals with years of investigative experience at the federal, state, and local level. Team Adam Consultants rapidly deploy to sites where cases are unfolding, providing on-the-ground technical assistance and connecting local law enforcement with a national network of resources.”

Two Team Adam consultants are in Hickory assisting with the case. One consultant has been in Hickory since the second day after Zahra was reported missing, police said in the news release.

Greeson said the Zahra Baker Fund has been in contact with folks from Australia and are aware that her family there wants to be with her.

The fund is prepared to use its resources to see that she is able to go home with her family and receive the proper memorial service she deserves,” Greeson said.

There are no immediate plans to give to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, “but we suspect that a donation will be made to that organization in the near future,” Greeson said.

Over the weekend, Dr. Timothy Curtis, president of the network board of directors said in an e-mail, “We are standing in the gap for Zahra.

“We want to pull together all of the resources of our community and assist law enforcement in finding Zahra, provide support for those impacted by this tragedy and support ongoing efforts of other organizations to see that this doesn’t happen again to another child.

“When the national spotlight is over, we want Zahra’s legacy to live on. Her life is more important than the tragedy of her death. And the impact of this tragedy will affect our community for months to come,” he said in an e-mail announcing creation of the fund.

A website devoted to the fund showed seven contributors as of Monday evening. One is from Canada. Another is from Massachusetts.

Among the donors is Walmart Outreach of Granite Falls with a $432 gift.

Other donors sent as little as $5 and as much as $100. Notes are attached to the donations.
“My heart is so broken about this;” “Lord help the police find her;” “We are all praying for her;” donors wrote.

Not all of the responses to news of the fund have been complimentary.

A reader e-mailed the Record saying Greeson was in court in 2006 for obtaining property under false pretenses. Records show the two charges were pleaded. A third charge was dismissed.

The writer said the group was at a Walmart on Sunday, with Hickory Police Department used on signs and mentioned verbally to solicit donations.

Greeson responded, “At my request, I act solely as a spokesperson for the Zahra Fund. I do not have access to financial records, nor do I handle money or accounting.

“My concern, like many in our community, is for little Zahra. I will not allow those who desire to throw stones to affect the commitment of my walk with the Lord or the things that He has called me to do. I strive — today — to live my life above reproach and fully transparent to those to whom I am accountable.”

The Web site is at http://www.zahrabaker.com/fund.htm.
It includes a fund donation link listing contributors and the donation amounts.
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PostSubject: Officials release 1st 911 Tape in Zahra case   Tue Oct 19, 2010 4:55 pm

Officials release 1st 911 tape in Zahra case


Franco Ordoñez
fordonez@charlotteobserver.com
Posted: Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2010



Slideshow
« Prev of 2Next »






  • Zahra Baker was last seen in public Sept. 25.


  • Elisa Baker, center, stepmother of Zahra Clare Baker, appears before District Court Judge Gregory Hayes on an obstruction of justice charge Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2010 in Newrton, N.C. Baker is flanked by her attorneys, Jared Amos, left, and Scott Reilly, as she listens to Judge Hayes read the charges against her. She is accused of trying to throw off investigators with a fake ransom note.


More Information






Catawba County dispatchers released the first of two emergency 911 calls made from Zahra Baker's home on the day the 10-year-old went missing.
Elisa Baker, Zahra's stepmother, sounded alarmed when she called 911 on Oct. 9 about 5 a.m. to report that piles of wood in their back yard were on fire. Listen to the 911 call
Operator: 911, what's the address of your emergency?
Baker: Yes ma'am. My husband works for a tree maintenance company and our back yard is on fire.
Operator: You're what is on fire?
Baker: Our backyard. We have mulch piles and wood piles because we sell firewood and stuff.
Operator: Okay, what's your address ...
Zahra, who is hearing impaired and lost part of one leg to bone cancer, was reported missing hours later when her father, Adam Baker, called police around 2 p.m. Police are expected to release that 911 call this afternoon.
Elisa Baker, 42, has been charged with felony obstruction of justice and is now in jail. She was arrested after police say she admitted to writing a ransom note investigators found that morning. Police say the note was designed to throw off investigators in their search for answers in the girl's disappearance, a case they're now calling a homicide.
Firefighters responding to the first 911 call reported to police that they saw a hand written note in the windshield of a Chevrolet Tahoe parked at the Baker's rented house on 21st Avenue NW. Police said the note demanded $1 million from "Mr. Coffey," who has been identified as Adam Baker's boss. The note suggested kidnappers had taken Mark Coffey's daughter, but when police checked they found the family was fine

**CharlotteObserver
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PostSubject: Transcript of Adam Baker's 911 Call   Wed Oct 20, 2010 1:53 am

Transcript of Adam Baker's 911 Call


Posted:

Oct 19, 2010 5:27 PM EDT




DISPATCHER: 911 what is your emergency?

ADAM BAKER: Ah.. yeah my daughter is missing.

DISPATCHER: I'm sorry? Your daughter…

Full Coverage: The Search for Zahra

ADAM BAKER: My daughter is missing.

DISPATCHER: Your daughter is missing.

DISPATCHER: What is your address?

ADAM BAKER: 21 21st Ave. Northwest.

ADAM BAKER: The police were out here last night. They found a ransom note for my bosses daughter… um… I got up a little while ago… and it appears they took my daughter instead of my bosses daughter.

DISPATCHER: How old is your daughter?

ADAM BAKER: She is 10. She's handicapped.. she has a prosthetic leg… so that…

DISPATCHER: How long has seen been missing?

ADAM BAKER: Ummm. We checked in there last night about 2:30 and she was there... and all this happened last night around 5 ...so 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.

DISPATCHER: I am not familiar with what happened last night... what happened last night?

ADAM BAKER: OK. Last night...we woke up.. my dog woke me up and I had a fire in the back yard and somebody had poured gas in my company vehicle I drive to work. They left a ransom note on my company vehicle to my boss saying they had his daughter and his son was next.

ADAM BAKER: And his daughter is fine. His daughter came with him last night when I called him. And uh, It appears they may have taken my daughter instead of his daughter.

DISPATCHER: OK, Do you know who this was?

ADAM BAKER: I don't know who... No... no ma'am..

DISPATCHER: Do you know any idea why they were threatening to take his daughter?

ADAM BAKER: I don't know.

DISPATCHER: What is your name?

ADAM BAKER: My name is Adam Baker.

DISPATCHER: Phone number?

ADAM BAKER: 962-xxxx

DISPATCHER: OK, so.. No one has seen your daughter since 2:30 this morning...? [It is now after 2 pm that day]

ADAM BAKER: No.. like I said we, uh, had all that drama last night and we... me and my wife went back to bed. And my daughter is I think's coming into puberty.. cause she is hitting that brooding stage (laughter) so we only see her when she comes out when she wants something. And that's about it.

DISPATCHER: And you say she is handicapped..?

ADAM BAKER: Yes ma'am.. she has an above the knee amputation.

DISPATCHER: OK, she has one leg and it is partially amputated?

ADAM BAKER: Yes, she has a prosthetic leg that they apparently have taken with them.

DISPATCHER: So... Prosthetic leg was taken with her?

ADAM BAKER: Yes ma'am..

DISPATCHER: OK. And you don't have any idea at all...

ADAM BAKER: Like I said it was it was all addressed to him and it was all taken out on him and.. I guess.. they thought he lived in this house...

DISPATCHER: OK.. ok.. did you talk to your boss about it?

ADAM BAKER: Um... I have just spoken to him and he umm told me to do... and he's going to be here shortly....

DISPATCHER: OK.. do you think that he knows?

ADAM BAKER: Umm.. we had an officer out here last night and he ran through who he thought it may have been like an ex-employee or something..

DISPATCHER: OK and you said 21 25th Ave. Northwest?

ADAM BAKER: 21 21st Ave.

DISPATCHER: OK.. 21 21st ave.

DISPATCHER: OK.. Hold on just a sec.

ADAM BAKER: OK. Thank you

[Silence...]

DISPATCHER: OK... I see it now. I wasn't finding the call.. OK.

ADAM BAKER: It was officer .. [unintelligible]

DISPATCHER: Ok, we are getting the police out there.. if you find out anything at all in the meantime before we get the officer out there call me back and it would help us as far as finding your daughter.

ADAM BAKER: Ok. Thank you ma'am

disconnect
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PostSubject: Dad of missing NC girl says kidnappers set fire   Wed Oct 20, 2010 2:02 am

Dad of missing NC girl says kidnappers set fire




Associated Press - October 19, 2010 5:35 PM ET

HICKORY, N.C. (AP) - The father of a disabled missing 10-year-old North Carolina girl told police he thought a fire set in his backyard was meant to distract him while kidnappers abducted his daughter.

Adam Baker's 911 call to police was released Tuesday. He reported Zahra Clare Baker missing in the call Oct. 9, more than eight hours after his yard was set on fire. Zahra has a prosthetic leg and uses hearing aids.

Baker told a dispatcher that someone poured gasoline in his company car and left a ransom note saying kidnappers had taken his boss' daughter, though she was safe with her family.

Police say Zahra's stepmother wrote the fake ransom note, and she has been charged with obstruction of justice.

Baker says during the call that he didn't know who abducted his daughter.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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PostSubject: Who is Elisa Baker?   Wed Oct 20, 2010 2:08 am

Who is Elisa Baker?


Posted:


Oct 18, 2010 3:10 PM EDT




Video Gallery





Investigators return to Zahra's home

3:01



Elisa Baker appears in court earlier this week.
Elisa Baker is pictured on the far right with Zahra leaning against her. Elisa's two biological daughters are on the left. (Photo source Facebook)
Adam and Elisa Baker (Photo source Facebook)
Elisa and Adam Baker on their wedding day. (Photo source Facebook)
Elisa Baker sits in what appears to be a doctor's office with her stepdaughter, Zahra, in the foreground. (Photo source Facebook) Click image to enlarge


By Jeff Rivenbark - email

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) – Authorities have essentially reached a dead end in their search for a girl from Hickory who is missing, and new details are surfacing about the girl's stepmother.

On Wednesday and Thursday, law enforcement officers combed the woods of a 60-acre tract of land in Burke County looking for Zahra Claire Baker, but they were unable to find anything.

Full coverage: The Search for Zahra

Zahra was reported missing by her father, Adam Baker, nearly a week ago on Saturday, Oct. 9, at their Hickory home located in Catawba County.

Adam Baker and his daughter are originally from Australia. He met his 42-year-old wife, Elisa, online and two years ago, both he and his daughter, moved to North Carolina to live with Elisa.

The couple did not meet on a dating website, but on a website called IMVU, a social network and 3D virtual world where people create characters of themselves.

Related story: MySpace page may reveal details about stepmother

Elisa Baker is currently being held in the Catawba County jail on a felony obstruction of justice charge. Police say she admitted to writing a fake ransom letter to purposely throw off investigators in their search for the missing girl.

WBTV has uncovered new details about Elisa Baker. She has been married at least three times, and she had children with two boyfriends. She describes herself as "gothic" and claims to have graduated from college.

Baker is originally from Burke County. Her parents are Marshall Thomas Fairchild and Sylvia Jean Fairchild. The mother's maiden name is Barnes.

Baker has at least three biological children that we were able to find information about.

According to MySpace and Facebook, one of Baker's daughters is Brittany Starbuck.

Baker's second daughter is Amber Fairchild, but Baker was never married to the child's father.

She also has a son named Douglas Proctor and his father is Douglas Joseph Proctor. Baker's son claims he only saw his stepsister, Zahra, once or twice. (Click here to read more about her son Douglas Proctor.)

Baker's first marriage was in 1985 to Jerry Alan Winkler in Caldwell County. In 1997, she was married to Jeffrey Russell Allred in Caldwell County.

Her third marriage was to Adam Baker, whom she met online. They were married about two years ago.

We were unable to find a record of Elisa and Adam's marriage in North Carolina, but it is possible they were married elsewhere or possibly in Australia. There is a picture of them holding a marriage certificate on Amber Fairchild's MySpace page.

We also found several pictures from Amber's page including photos of Zahra with her prosthetic leg, Adam and Elisa on their wedding day, Elisa with a blackeye, and Elisa with Zahra.

We were unable to find any convictions against Elisa Baker on file with the North Carolina Department of Corrections.

Copyright 2010 WBTV. All rights reserved.
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PostSubject: Zahra's stepbrother releases statement, asks for prayers   Wed Oct 20, 2010 2:18 am

Zahra's stepbrother releases statement, asks for prayers


Posted:

Oct 14, 2010 9:37 AM EDT



Video Gallery





Zahra's stepbrother speaks

1:06



Douglas Proctor (Source: Facebook)
Zahra Claire Baker (Source: MySpace)

Zahra's stepbrother releases statement, asks for prayers


By Jeff Rivenbark - email

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - The son of a woman who is in jail following the disappearance of her 10-year-old stepdaughter released a statement to the media late Wednesday afternoon.

In the statement, Douglas Proctor thanked the public for their support in searching for Zahra Claire Baker. Proctor said he could not comment further on the search for his stepsister or his mother, Elisa Baker. (We have posted Proctor's full statement below.)

Full Coverage: The Search for Zahra

Proctor's mother is currently being held in the Catawba County Jail on a felony obstruction charge and other misdemeanor offenses.

Elisa Baker was arrested Sunday on various unrelated misdemeanor charges after Zahra was reported missing Saturday afternoon. Police have called her a person of interest in the case.

Officials charged Elisa Baker with the felony obstruction of justice charge after finding a ransom note in a car outside the family's home in Hickory which demanded $1 million. Baker told police Monday night that she wrote the note.

On Tuesday, Hickory Police called off the AMBER alert for Zahra, but as of Thursday morning, they were still looking for the 10-year-old girl who is presumed to be dead.

Also on Tuesday, police said the case is now a homicide investigation.

Elisa Baker made her first court appearance on Wednesday and requested a court-appointed attorney.

As of Thursday morning, neither Zahra's father, Adam Baker, nor her stepmother had been charged with anything else concerning the case.

Elisa Baker's son released the following statement prior to a vigil that was held for the little girl Wednesday night.

Dear everyone,

I would first like to personally thank all those who have and are continuing to helping locate Zahra Baker and i ask that everyone continue to please support my family during this difficult time.

Due to the fact i am still gathering facts right now i am unable to make any comment on anything regarding Zahra Baker as well as my mother Elisa Baker. I would also like to ask that everyone please respect my families privacy during this difficult and stressful time.

Once all the facts have been gathered i will issue another statement but until then i will refrain from saying anything else. Once again please keep Zahra Baker in your prayers and thanks to everyone who is helping.

Sincerely,
Douglas Proctor


Copyright 2010 WBTV. All rights reserved.
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PostSubject: MySpace page yanked down for stepmother in missing girl case   Wed Oct 20, 2010 2:27 am

MySpace page yanked down for stepmother in missing girl case


Posted:

Oct 15, 2010 10:26 AM EDT


Video Gallery

<1|2|3|4>



Stepmother of missing girl makes first court appearance

2:46

Could DSS have helped Zahra?

4:18


Homicide, no longer an amber alert

3:06

People in Hickory are preparing for a tragedy

2:59


Amber alert for Zahra Baker cancelled

4:04

Police cancel AMBER alert for Zahra

4:18


Angry comments posted on stepmother's MySpace page

2:26





Elisa Baker (left) and the icon used on the MySpace page -- along with a skull and crossbones used as the background image.
Zahra is described as "The Dark Child" in this photo (Source: MySpace)
Zahra with an award from Granite Falls Elementary School (Source: MySpace)
Although her photo is not on the MySpace page, the writer describes herself as "gothic." This is a photo of Elisa Baker. Click image to enlarge



By Jeff Rivenbark - email & Rod Overton - email

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) –The social network presence for a woman whose stepdaughter has gone missing has suddenly disappeared from the network that hosts it. This move comes just two days after the site was exposed and many comments were left on it for the woman now jailed on obstruction of justice charges.

The MySpace page for Elisa Baker, known as "GothicFairy6668" on the service, is now no longer accessible. Baker, who is called "a person of interest" by police in the case of her missing stepdaughter, had a very disturbing page on the service. It was filled with images of skulls and bones along with a song titled "Living Dead Girl" playing in the background.
Click here for full coverage: The Search for Zahra

Zahra Claire Baker, 10, was reported missing on Saturday by her father, Adam Baker, more than 12 hours after he claimed the child's stepmother, Elisa Baker, last saw his daughter sleeping.

Police say no one has seen the girl in the last month with the exception of her immediate family. Police are now calling the case homicide investigation.

Elisa Baker is being held on a $40,000 bond at a jail in Catawba County on a felony charge of obstruction of justice.

It appears Elisa Baker was on the social networking site MySpace in which she calls her herself "gothicfairy6668."

The creator of the page, however, went by "E'lesa" and says she is 42-years-old, which is the same age as Elisa Baker.

Orginally, the writer had not signed on since Friday, October 8, 2010, the day before Zahra was reported missing to police. The "mood" of the page owner that day was listed as "Crazy."

But, on a cached version -- www.myspace.com/gothicfairy6668+http://www.myspace.com/gothicfairy6668" class="postlink" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">still available here on Google -- the last sign on date has been moved up to Oct. 9. That could possibly be the day the site was taken down, although it is not clear. The "mood" of the page owner that day is also listed as "crazy."

On the page, there were several pictures featuring Zahra in which she is described as the writer's daughter.

The MySpace page had a black backgroundwhich was covered with red skulls and crossbones. Among the several pictures posted on the site is one of Zahra holding a certificate. In one picture Zahra is described as "The Dark Child... lol!!!"

For hometown, the MySpace page listed, "Never, neverland." The writer also listed Queensland, Australia for state and country. The writer says she is a proud parent and a college graduate, but that can not be verified.

WBTV has learned that Adam Baker and Zahra are originally from Australia, but Elisa Baker is not. Family friends tell WBTV the birth mother left Zahra when she was a baby.

Zahra and her dad left Australia a couple of years ago. Zahra's dad and Elisa Baker met online and got married within the last two years.

Under the "General" section, the writer says: "People often judge what they don't understand i [sic] myself prefer to be different. There is no one out there I really envy. I strive to be different in my own way,so if people [sic] stop and stare i [sic] think to myself god I feel sorry for them they are so scared to step outside the norm that they live in a constant bubble afraid to stand out and stand up for how they really feel.."

A blog posted by the writer on Wednesday, June 17, 2009, says she has four children and a husband who she met on the internet. She says, "We have been together 2yrs [sic] and will be married 1 in July."



She also writes, "He has been by my side during some of the hardest points in my life, even when I wanted to give up. I owe him everything, even though things are tough at the moment he keeps me positive. Even when everyone else treats me like crap."

On Tuesday, June 16, 2009, the writer's blog said: "One thing I have learnt [sic] this week is family doesn't [sic] mean anything. And no matter the good you do ppl [sic] only judge you for the bad. See everyone makes mistakes in this life and I have made my share yet some ppl [sic] think they are perfect, never lie or do anything wrong. And you kids rip your hear out. It's a never-endin [sic] circle. Now I understand what my mom use to tell me about family and friends. I miss her so much."

Commenting on her appearance, the writer blogged on Sunday, February 22, 2009: "I am so sick of people judging me by how I look. I am gothic and proud of it… Maybe if everyone would stop judging people the world might be a better place. Then it's the doctors.. oh my god if you look a little different they think ur [sic] hooked on some sort of drugs when truth is I have enough health problems without that s--t [profanity edited]. I hate it, I cant [sic] see how our world has come to this and I don't [sic] understand why all the people from other countries want to come here… I'm E'lesa by god and that's [sic] who I am til I die."

On Saturday, September 13, 2009, the blogger wrote about her apparent illness. She said, "Healthy people have no clue how lucky they are. I swear I try not to complain too much but I have this freakin [sic] disease."

She added, "…rare disease I have has no cure, only medication to try and slow the process."

She says her disease prevents her from going outside which she hates because she likes being outdoors: "…the sun causes flare ups which make things really worse. Those of us with this disease hope one day for a cure to be found or at least a medication that really works."

Further down in this blog entry, the writer states "…I was diagnosed with brain cancer first time in 1990, then in 94 and again in 2006 which each time they gave me up for dead and prepared my family for the worst and I am still here but now I have something I can't even begin to control. How fair is that…"

Once again, Hickory Police have not said that Elise Baker is responsible for Zahra's disappearance, but we do know that she has been charged with obstruction of justice in connection with the case.

Copyright 2010 WBTV. All rights reserved.
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PostSubject: Records show Zahra fund spokesman had 2006 felony, but nothing since   Wed Oct 20, 2010 10:13 am

Records show Zahra fund spokesman had 2006 felony, but nothing since





By Richard Gould
Published: October 20, 2010



The Christian Counseling Network’s spokesman for Zahra Baker Fund, Rev. Brandon Greeson, 27, was indicted on Jan. 7, 2008 for obtaining property by false pretenses and identity theft.

Greeson pleaded guilty to obtaining property by false pretenses as a part of a plea deal that included a dismissal of the identity theft charges.

The charges stem from Greeson’s use of a woman’s name and credit card number without authorization to buy $54.44 in food from Jason’s Deli on U.S. 70 over a nine-day span in October 2006. The crime is a Class H felony.

Greeson had no previous criminal record and was sentenced to three years of probation.

Though he pleaded guilty to a felony, Greeson maintains his innocence.

“I never harvested or used credit card numbers in any way, nor did I violate the law. I “took the wrap” for something that I did not do,” he said in an email. “I was advised by my attorney to accept a plea bargain offer from the DA’s office, of which I did. Today, I accept full responsibility for my actions.”

Greeson said he has abided by the court’s orders.

He has not been arrested or charged with any other crimes in Catawba County since entering his guilty plea.

Greeson said he had a productive meeting with Hickory Police Chief Tom Adkins but did not provide details of the meeting or what decisions were made as a result of it.

Asked what assurances he could give the public that money collected by the Zahra Baker Fund would go to the proper recipients, Greeson said the fund is being administered by Dr. Timothy Curtis.

“I do not have access to the ministry’s bank account or credit cards. My role with Spiritual Counseling Network is as the Director of Marketing & Outreach – to tell the community about why we exist, what we do and how we do it,” he wrote. “I serve solely as the spokesman for the Zahra Baker Fund. I only have access to the same information that is provided to the public on the website – no more – and that is at my request.”

“Likewise, Zahra Baker Fund is fully transparent to the public. Every penny collected and every dime spent is accounted for – updated numerous times a day on zahrabaker.com. Folks should feel 100% confident that their gift will be used for the purposes to which the Fund is established and that Spiritual Counseling Network/Zahra Baker Fund safeguards their information and keeps it safe.”

In 2008, the court ordered Greeson to pay:

* $146 in court costs
* $55 in fines
* $200 in community service fees
* $300 in attorney’s fees
* $50 in attorney appointment fees
* $54.44 in restitution to his victim
Total: $805.44

* Greeson is also required to pay $30 per month in supervised probation fees. ($1,080 for three years)

Greeson has been on supervised probation since February 2009 and was ordered to provide a DNA sample on March 25, 2009 for the FBI’s database for convicted felons, according to court records.
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PostSubject: Adam Baker Involved: Statement Analysis   Wed Oct 20, 2010 10:35 am

Adam Baker Involved: Statement Analysis.jpg]


Is Adam Baker involved?
yes
no
pollcode.com free polls



Here is the audio to the transfer 911 Call made by Adam Baker to report his missing daughter. Statement Analysis of the call is in bold type.

[url=http://foxcharlotte.bimedia.net/docs/recorded_on_09-Oct-2010_at_13.58.58.mp3]http://foxcharlotte.bimedia.net/docs/recorded_on_09-Oct-2010_at_13.58.58.mp3[/url]


DISPATCHER: 911 what is your emergency?

Note that in the original call, Baker began with a greeting. Note research by Dr. Adams, FBI, that showed guilty callers in domestic homicides were noted first by a greeting to the answering 911 operator.

ADAM BAKER: Ah.. yeah my daughter is missing.

According to the research on domestic homicide calls, guilty callers do not ask for help specifically for the victim but rather often insult the victim.

The research is here: [url=http://seamusoriley.blogspot.com/2010/10/911-calls-and-statement-analysis.html]http://seamusoriley.blogspot.com/2010/10/911-calls-and-statement-analysis.html[/url]


DISPATCHER: I'm sorry? Your daughter…

"I'm sorry" means that Dispatcher heard something that triggered sensitivity and is often used as a polite delay to give time to think. Listening to the audio suggests that the dispatcher may have been surprised by such a calm demeanor accompanying such a drastic statement by a parent.

ADAM BAKER: My daughter is missing.

Note the name: "my daughter". Always note when a name is used by context, and when a pronoun is used (also by context)

DISPATCHER: Your daughter is missing.

Repetition shows sensitivity. The dispatcher is likely shocked.

DISPATCHER: What is your address?

ADAM BAKER: 21 21st Ave. Northwest.

Note that no assistance is demanded for Zahra. Dr. Adams also found that guilty callers sometimes disparaged the victim, and often blamed the victim as to the reason for the call. The blaming was often in the form of complaining about the victim.

ADAM BAKER: The police were out here last night. They found a ransom note for my bosses daughter… um… I got up a little while ago… and it appears they took my daughter instead of my bosses daughter.
Note that he has not used his daughter's name yet. Note that his boss' name is not used either. Since the 911 operator does not know his boss, we can assume that he does not likely have a good relationship with his boss. Note also that it is important to the subject that the 911 operator knows that he just got up. He also uses soft language: "it appears". We would expect, from an innocent caller, a demand for help and harsh language. 911 calls are not generally polite calls; they are emergencies. Therefore, urgency, or its lack, it noted, even in voice analysis (see Dr. Adams' article)
The indication here is premeditation.



DISPATCHER: How old is your daughter?

ADAM BAKER: She is 10. She's handicapped.. she has a prosthetic leg… so that…
Still no name, but her leg may be an identifying aspect.

DISPATCHER: How long has seen been missing?

ADAM BAKER: Ummm. We checked in there last night about 2:30 and she was there... and all this happened last night around 5 ...so 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.

Note now the pronoun change, reducing commitment in this call. "we" checked in "there" (distance; he did not use "here") Note next that he reported that "all this" happened; not his daughter's disappearance and now expresses motive: the fire set to "distract us" (pronoun noted again). This should be viewed as sensitive, as it is an attempt to persuade and to set the investigation's focus.


DISPATCHER: I am not familiar with what happened last night... what happened last night?

ADAM BAKER: OK. Last night...we woke up.. my dog woke me up and I had a fire in the back yard and somebody had poured gas in my company vehicle I drive to work. They left a ransom note on my company vehicle to my boss saying they had his daughter and his son was next.
Note the "we woke up" weakness. This is the first thing he reports and is not reliable. It is likely that "they" were not sleeping. Note the change: my dog woke "me" up. "My" dog is problematic; family dog is often "the dog". Note that "company vehicle" is repeated; this should cause investigators to test the vehicle for evidence. It may be that Zahra was inside the vehicle, which is why it is sensitive for Baker. Note the folly of a ransom note: kidnappers do not take one and threaten another, increasing the likelihood of apprehension.

ADAM BAKER: And his daughter is fine. His daughter came with him last night when I called him. And uh, It appears they may have taken my daughter instead of his daughter.
Note the passive "it appears".

When passive language is used, it is done so to conceal the identity of the activity. It is likely that Adam Baker knows who took his daughter and is withholding the identity.



DISPATCHER: OK, Do you know who this was?
ADAM BAKER: I don't know who... No... no ma'am..

Note broken sentence indicates withholding of information regarding who is responsible. A broken sentence means the subject has deliberately stopped speaking in order to change direction. It sounds like he almost slipped out what he knows. This is why it is important for interviewers to ask simple questions, including "Did you harm your daughter?" and "Did you cause her disappearance?" even if the expected answer is "no". Every word after "no" is useful for analysis.

DISPATCHER: Do you know any idea why they were threatening to take his daughter?
ADAM BAKER: I don't know.

This is likely a truthful statement which is why he needs no additional wording. He answers the question without stress (sensitivity)

DISPATCHER: What is your name?

ADAM BAKER: My name is Adam Baker.

He has yet to use his daughter's name.

DISPATCHER: Phone number?

ADAM BAKER: 962-xxxx

DISPATCHER: OK, so.. No one has seen your daughter since 2:30 this morning...? [It is now after 2 pm that day]

ADAM BAKER: No.. like I said we, uh, had all that drama last night and we... me and my wife went back to bed. And my daughter is I think's coming into puberty.. cause she is hitting that brooding stage (laughter) so we only see her when she comes out when she wants something. And that's about it.

"like I said" is nervous repetition rather than intense focusing for accuracy.
Note the word "drama" is chosen by him. This should suggest fiction to investigators just as "story" does.
"my daughter is coming in to puberty" is blaming and denigrating his daughter.

That he is laughing on a call speaks for itself. It can be interpreted by a defense attorney as "nervous laughter" but not by parents. It fits into the analysis previously viewed regarding his involvement. That she is in a "hitting" stage hints that someone "hit her back" and it may be something we hear from a defense attorney


This is a strong indicator that Zahra is a victim of domestic violence or homicide and Adam Baker is involved.


DISPATCHER: And you say she is handicapped..?

ADAM BAKER: Yes ma'am.. she has an above the knee amputation.

DISPATCHER: OK, she has one leg and it is partially amputated?

ADAM BAKER: Yes, she has a prosthetic leg that they apparently have taken with them.

DISPATCHER: So... Prosthetic leg was taken with her?

ADAM BAKER: Yes ma'am..

DISPATCHER: OK. And you don't have any idea at all...

ADAM BAKER: Like I said it was it was all addressed to him and it was all taken out on him and.. I guess.. they thought he lived in this house...
DISPATCHER: OK.. ok.. did you talk to your boss about it?

ADAM BAKER: Um... I have just spoken to him and he umm told me to do... and he's going to be here shortly....

Note that his boss remains unnamed.

DISPATCHER: OK.. do you think that he knows?

ADAM BAKER: Umm.. we had an officer out here last night and he ran through who he thought it may have been like an ex-employee or something..

he does not answer the question meaning the question is sensitive.
DISPATCHER: OK and you said 21 25th Ave. Northwest?

ADAM BAKER: 21 21st Ave.

DISPATCHER: OK.. 21 21st ave.

DISPATCHER: OK.. Hold on just a sec.

ADAM BAKER: OK. Thank you

The politeness is a sign of a guilty caller. Innocent Parents of missing children are not calm and polite on 911 calls. (See Casey Anthony)

[Silence...]

DISPATCHER: OK... I see it now. I wasn't finding the call.. OK.

ADAM BAKER: It was officer .. [unintelligible]

DISPATCHER: Ok, we are getting the police out there.. if you find out anything at all in the meantime before we get the officer out there call me back and it would help us as far as finding your daughter.
ADAM BAKER: Ok. Thank you ma'am

Note that Baker did not ask for help for his daughter; had no urgency, and withheld information regarding the identity of the party who took his daughter.

Conclusion:

Adam Baker should be a suspect in his daughter's disappearance and likely in her death. The "we" in his statement indicating cooperation would suggest that he did not act alone in what will likely prove to be a domestic homicide. He insults his daughter's behavior while distancing himself from her (avoided using her name).

I suspect that she is deceased,but my suspicion is not based upon linguistic indicators (speaking of her in the past tense, for instance), but upon his demeanor and the setting of the fire.

I think Zahra Baker's life was a childhood of living hell and torment by an abusive abdicating father and an evil, abusive step mother.

I expect to see Adam Baker and his wife arrested shortly
.

Posted by Seamus O Riley at 5:30 AM
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PostSubject: Zahra Baker Case: 911 Calls Released   Wed Oct 20, 2010 10:40 am

Zahra Baker case: 911 calls released



Posted on October 20th, 2010 by Valhall
The two 911 calls made Elisa and Adam Baker on Saturday October 9, the day 10-year-old Zahra Baker was reported “missing”, have been released. The recordings of these calls may be heard at the following links:
First 911 call – brush fire in backyard, call made about 5 a.m.
Second 911 call – reporting Zahra missing, call made about 2 p.m.
Here are the things we learn from these 911 calls:

  • That Elisa Baker gets more upset over a brush fire in her backyard than Adam Baker gets over finding his daughter is missing and may have been kidnapped.
  • That Elisa Baker, when making a 911 call about a fire in her backyard, would like to begin the call not with “There is a fire in our backyard, we need the fire department.” but with “My husband works for a tree maintenance company and….”
  • That Adam Baker wants to blame his daughter not coming out of her room on “broodiness” because she’s apparently going through puberty – at the age 10 – in contradiction to family member accounts that Elisa kept Zahra locked her in room all the time.
  • That Adam Baker thinks the above claim is humorous during a 911 call to report his daughter possibly kidnapped.
  • That Adam Baker did, in fact, call his boss over to his house during or after the brush fire.
  • That Adam Baker, upon finding his daughter missing, called his boss first, who apparently had the common sense to advise him to call the authorities, THEN Adam Baker called 911 to report Zahra missing.
  • That what woke Adam Baker and Elisa Baker up at 5 in the morning leading to them “discovering” the brush fire was the dog. Apparently the dog did not wake them up while the brush fire was being started, Adam’s company truck was being doused with gasoline, and a ransom note (written by Elisa) was placed on the windshield of the company vehicle.

Now, reader Ellejay, has done an awesome job of compiling the contradictions between Adam’s statements made in the 911 call to report Zahra missing, and his statements made in his media interview, so I’ll just copy that work here:

..adam certainly has a lot of inconsistant stmts. between his 911 call, and his tv interview..
call——i got up a little while ago, and it appears she’s missing
tv —came home–working in the yard, my wife came running out [in a panic saying Zahra's missing]
call—–we went in and checked on her
tv—-saw her last thursday, wife checked on her [at approximately 2:30 a.m.]
call—she’s going through that puberty stage, brooding, stays in her room
tv—-she’s always smiling, happy!
call—-thinks the fire was a distraction—they then snuck in and took zahra
tv—has no idea what might have happened
To add to those, at this point the Bakers, especially Elisa who has confessed to writing the ransom note, need to address the following unanswered questions:

  • if Elisa wrote the ransom note which was stuck on the windshield of the company truck which was the same vehicle that was doused with gasoline, then are the Bakers asking us to believe that Elisa wrote this ransom note the night before and then a good dose of serendipity and synchronicity just happened to have a kidnapper, who thought Mr. Coffey lived in the Baker home, come by that very night/early morning to douse the vehicle in gasoline and start a fire in the backyard so that he could kidnap Zahra thinking she was the daughter of another man to whom said kidnapper DID NOT write a ransom note? Please explain to us how we are supposed to disconnect, the “fire of distraction” and Zahra’s kidnapping from Elisa now that she has admitted to writing the ransom note sometime prior to 5 a.m. when the fire was started, the vehicle was doused and the police/fire dept called?
  • if Mr. Coffey showed up at the Baker home at 5 a.m. with his daughter, met with police and verified that his daughter was absolutely okay, then why would Adam Baker (right now claiming to have NOTHING to do with the disappearance of his daughter) not check on his own daughter at that very moment? Unless….he knew damned well who wrote the ransom note. I would think if Adam Baker or Elisa Baker had even mentioned to the responding police that they had a 10-year-old daughter who lived at that residence, the police would have insisted on verifying she was okay. So they either did not mention she existed at all, OR they lied to police and stated they had just checked on her and she was fine. One of those two things will be in the incident report. And no matter which of them is in the police report, either of them will be damning to either both of the Bakers, or at least one of the Bakers if the claim is made “I just checked on her and she’s fine.” If there is any statement that Zahra was checked on by either or both parents at the time of the fire incident then there will be a recorded lie as to when she was last verified to be alive and in her bedroom. If neither parent mentioned they had a child while police were investigating a ransom note, now confessed to have been written by Elisa Baker, after Mr. Coffey proved his daughter was okay, that’s going to speak volumes as well. Because there is a line of “stupid” that neither law enforcement nor a jury are going to want to accept as an explanation for being that “unthinking”.

Let’s talk a minute about what could have been going on. Let’s all accept that if Elisa wrote the ransom note then she either, on her own or with help from Adam, doused the vehicle and started the brush fire. Now, one would think that this would all be done to create a situation where you can “discover” your child is missing and report it under the guise of a kidnapping courtesy of the ransom note and the fire bringing authorities to your home. But that didn’t happen at 5 a.m. that morning. What could be the reasons? You chickened out on reporting her missing? She wasn’t missing yet, she was dead and you realize this isn’t going to work right considering the ransom note says “we took her” versus “we killed her and you’ll find her in bedroom (when you unlock it)”? That’s about the only two reasons I can come up with right now. There’s no benefit to letting nine more hours pass between setting up a kidnapping scenario and reporting your daughter missing. There’s nothing beneficial to admitting you went nine hours in between finding a ransom note for a kidnapped daughter and checking on your own daughter. I believe one (Elisa) or both of the Bakers chickened out on the original plan at 5 a.m. Saturday morning, either because they had to work up more guts, take more drugs, or take care of some outstanding issues.
Which brings me to another question that has not been answered. Where did Adam Baker really go at 11 a.m. on Saturday morning? He claims he went to “check on a job”….not to perform a job, but to check on a job. Has Mr. Coffey, a potential customer, an existing customer, or coworkers verified that Adam Baker indeed went to “check on a job”? He was gone for two hours (according to his own statements), arriving back at 1 pm. Where did Adam Baker go for two hours just prior to the Bakers finally deciding that everything was in order to “report Zahra missing”?
Valhall.
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PostSubject: Missing girl's stepmom has first court appearance   Wed Oct 20, 2010 12:36 pm

Missing girl's stepmom has first court appearance








Credit: ROBERT C. REED / RECORD
Elisa Baker, stepmother of Zahra Clare Baker, appears before District Court Judge Gregory Hayes. Baker is flanked by her attorneys, Jared Amos (left) and Scott Reilly (right), while she listens to Judge Hayes read the charges against her. She is being charged with felony obstruction of justice for writing a ransom note.


Related Links

» Gallery: Disappearance of Zahra Baker
» Article: Neighbors never saw missing girl
» Article: Investigators search Burke site again
» Link: Miss Gothicfairy: Elisa Baker's myspace page
» Link: View the Baker search warrant




By Sarah Newell williamson
Published: October 13, 2010



HICKORY --


As Elisa Baker walked into the courtroom in her bubblegum pink jail-issued uniform, she looked down at the floor, her dark brown hair hiding her face from those seated in the gallery. Her hands and feet clinked in the handcuffs and shackles.

The Catawba County Sheriff’s Office brought in additional detectives and deputies for security prior to Baker coming into the courtroom.

Baker is the stepmother to Zahra Clare Baker, 10. Zahra was first reported missing at 2 p.m. Saturday, although Hickory police suspect she may have been missing longer than that. No one other than family has seen Zahra in more than a month.

On Sunday, Baker was arrested on nine unrelated charges to Zahra. Hickory police went to the Catawba County jail on Tuesday and interviewed Baker, where she admitted writing the ransom note found on one of the Bakers’ car, demanding $1 million. An arrest warrant was taken out for obstruction of justice.

When she appeared Wednesday morning before Judge Greg Hayes for a first appearance on this charge, Baker kept her lips pursed much of the time, looking meek and timid.

Hayes told Baker the charge of common law obstruction of justice, a class H felony, carries with it a maximum of 30 months in jail, and asked if she understood it. She quietly said yes.

Baker had with her two attorneys — Scott Reilly, who was court-appointed for the obstruction of justice charge, and Jared Amos, who was appointed for the larceny by employee charge in Burke County.

Reilly said he planned to file a motion for bond reduction.

“Forty thousand (dollars) is in far excess for this charge,” he said.

Reilly said he would like the bond to be set closer to the $10,000 guideline for an obstruction of justice charge. He hopes the bond reduction hearing will be set as early as Monday.

Baker’s total bond is set at $72,200. This includes the obstruction of justice charge, as well as the previous charges of larceny by employee, four counts of communicating threats, four counts of driving while license is revoked, six counts of worthless checks, unsafe tires, operating a vehicle with no insurance and fictitious or revoked registration/tag.

“She’s scared to death,” Reilly said. “She’s emotional.”

He said he can’t talk about what Baker has said about Zahra.

“She’s upset with being in jail and away from her family,” Reilly said.

District Attorney Jay Gaither called the Zahra case one that has demanded the community’s utmost attention.

“This is a high priority for law enforcement and it will be a high priority for the district attorney’s office when we get it,” he said.

Gaither said it’s been emotionally straining on the community, particularly because the photos of Zahra have tugged at people’s hearts.

“The smile of Zahra sticks out,” he said. “She’s such a darling child. We fear the worst, but hope for the best.”

Baker’s probable cause hearing is set for Nov. 3.
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PostSubject: Police: Landfill search for evidence, not body   Wed Oct 20, 2010 4:48 pm

WLOS ABC 13 News


Police: Landfill search for evidence, not body
October 20, 2010 13:27 EDT
NEWTON, N.C. (AP) -- Police say they don't expect to find the body of a missing disabled North Carolina girl in a landfill, but they are searching the mounds of trash for a key piece of evidence.

Hickory Police Chief Tom Adkins wouldn't elaborate on what local and federal investigators are looking for. But he says it is critical to establish a timeline in the case. The chief says 10-year-old Zahra Clare Baker was last seen Sept. 25.

Adkins says the search at the landfill in Caldwell County could take up to five days.

Also on Wednesday, a judge increased the bond for the girl's stepmother from $45,000 to $65,000 after prosecutors said she was a flight risk.

Elisa Baker is charged with obstructing justice. Police say she wrote a fake ransom note.

***What key piece of evidence could they be looking for.......Zahra's LEG??
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PostSubject: Police hope for 'good, solid lead' in Zahra Baker case   Wed Oct 20, 2010 4:54 pm

Police hope for 'good, solid lead' in Zahra Baker case


By Steve Lyttle and Franco Ordonez
Staff writers
Posted: Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2010


Elisa Baker, center, stepmother of Zahra Clare Baker, appears before District Court Judge Gregory Hayes on an obstruction of justice charge Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2010 in Newrton, N.C. Baker is flanked by her attorneys, Jared Amos, left, and Scott Reilly, as she listens to Judge Hayes read the charges against her. She is accused of trying to throw off investigators with a fake ransom note.




More Information






Police said Wednesday afternoon they hope their search at a Caldwell County landfill will provide "a good, solid lead" in solving the disappearance of 10-year-old Zahra Baker.
Speaking during a news conference, Hickory police Chief Tom Adkins said, "We're not looking for her body in the landfill. We're looking for a piece of evidence."
The news conference happened about three hours after a Catawba County judge increased the bail on Zahra Baker's stepmother, Elisa Baker.
Calling her a "significant flight risk" and alluding to the "particularly disturbing allegations" against her, Judge Robert A. Mullinax increased the bond from $40,000 to $65,000 during a hearing at the Catawba County Courthouse in Newton.
Baker is accused of writing a phony ransom note concerning the disappearance of her stepdaughter.
The hearing included testimony from one of Baker's daughters, who asked the court not to release her mother. Baker's attorney said he doubts that his client will be able to raise enough money to go free.
The latest search began Thursday morning at the Foothills Environmental Landfill, on Cheraw Road in Lenoir. Authorities say it receives trash from Burke, Caldwell and McDowell counties.
While Zahra Baker's most recent residence was in Catawba County, her family lived in Caldwell County before moving to Hickory, and her father, Adam, works for a company that owns property in Burke County. At least three searches have been conducted at the Burke County property.
Adkins, the Hickory police chief, refused to elaborate on exactly what searchers were trying to find at the landfill. When asked if the object of the search might be Zahra Baker's prosthetic leg, Adkins repeated, "We're looking for a piece of evidence."
"Several interviews led us to the belief that the evidence is in the landfill," Adkins added.
He said finding the evidence would give authorities a solid lead in establishing a timeline as to when the last time Zahra Baker had been seen.
Adkins and Caldwell County Sheriff Alan Jones, who also appeared at the news conference, said the landfill search will be methodical and could take up to five days. Jones said investigators probably will have to dig into the trash as part of the search.
At the bond hearing earlier Wednesday, Baker's grown daughter, Amber Fairchild, told the judge she would fear for her safety if her mother were released.
"If she gets out, I would have to leave the state," she said.
Typically, defendants must pay a bail bondsman 10 to 15 percent of the bond set by the court, in order to get out of jail. The bondsman then guarantees to pay the court the full bond if the defendant fails to show up for trial.
That means Elisa Baker would have to come up with between $6,500 and $9,750.
Her attorney, Scott Reilly, said after the hearing that he doubts she will be able to raise that money -- or enough to cover the $30,000 bond set for her in Burke County, where she faces charges for allegedly writing bad checks.
Reilly said he and his client are looking for consistency and fairness.
"We haven't seen the first piece of evidence," he said after the hearing.
There was one other interesting development at the hearing this morning. Details were released that Elisa Baker has received more than $10,000 from a man in London, including money received as recently as the past week. The man was referred to as "Carlisle Fullman" during today's bond hearing.
It's unclear what relationship, if any, the two have. Baker met her husband, Zahra's father Adam, as part of an online relationship in Australia.
These latest developments follow a report by CNN that authorities have asked Zahra Baker's family members in Australia for medical information that might help them find out what happened to the girl. Hickory police have said they believe Zahra is dead.
Among the evidence being sought, CNN reported, is information about the prosthetic leg that Zahra used. She lost a leg to cancer while living in Australia.
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PostSubject: Landfill Being Searched for Zahra   Wed Oct 20, 2010 10:27 pm

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


Landfill Being Searched for Zahra





Elisa Baker, above left, stepmother of Zahra Clare Baker, appears before District Court Judge Gregory Hayes on an obstruction of justice charge Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2010 in Newrton, N.C. Baker is flanked by her attorneys, Jared Amos, left, and Scott Reilly, as she listens to Judge Hayes read the charges against her. She is accused of trying to throw off investigators with a fake ransom note.


Zahra Baker was last seen in public Sept. 25.

A team of local, state and federal authorities are searching at a Caldwell County landfill today for possible clues in the disappearance of 10-year-old Zahra Baker of Hickory, according to a police report.

Hickory police said their agents have joined those from the N.C. State Bureau of Investigation and the FBI in searching for what authorities called "a piece of evidence."

The search is under way at the Foothills Environmental Landfill, on Cheraw Road in Lenoir.

Authorities are not permitting the media near the search site, but they said they will hold a news conference at 1 p.m. today.

This latest development follows a report by CNN that authorities have asked Zahra Baker's family members in Australia for medical information that might help them find out what happened to the girl. Hickory police have said they believe Zahra is dead.

Among the evidence being sought, CNN reported, is information about the prosthetic leg that Zahra used. She lost a leg to cancer while living in Australia.

Hickory police on Tuesday released recordings of two emergency calls made from Zahra Baker’s home the day the 10-year-old girl was reported missing.

The calls shed new light on what Zahra’s parents claim happened Oct. 9, and how an early-morning fire and a phony ransom note might have been linked to her disappearance.

The Bakers’ description of events suggests that Zahra may have been kidnapped while her father and stepmother were dealing with a fire in the back yard of their Hickory house. The Bakers also reported that kidnappers might have taken Zahra by mistake in their attempt to actually abduct the daughter of Baker’s boss and landlord, Mark Coffey.

I don’t know if they set a fire in the yard to distract us to go out, and they snuck in the door,” Baker said of possible kidnappers in his 911 call.

See prior analysis of 911 call which not only shows deception, but involvement by Adam Baker.
[url=http://seamusoriley.blogspot.com/2010/10/zahra-baker-911-call-transcripts.html]http://seamusoriley.blogspot.com/2010/10/zahra-baker-911-call-transcripts.html[/url]



It appears they may have taken my daughter instead of his daughter.”

The release of the recordings came on the 10th day of the search for the little girl with freckles who was hearing impaired and lost part of one leg to bone cancer. The case has drawn international attention. Newspapers in Australia where Zahra was born have been publishing daily updates.

Zahra’s stepmother, Elisa Baker, has been charged with felony obstruction of justice and is now in jail. She was arrested after police say she admitted writing the phony ransom note, which they say was intended to throw off the investigation into Zahra’s disappearance.

Elisa Baker, 42, is scheduled to appear in a Catawba County court this morning to request a reduction of her $40,000 bond.

Investigators continue to seek the public’s help in piecing together a timeline of events surrounding the girl’s disappearance. The last person outside Zahra’s family whom police can confirm saw the girl alive was an employee at a Hickory furniture store, who reported seeing Zahra shopping with her stepmother on Sept. 25.

Zahra wasn’t reported missing until two weeks later.

The first 911 call from the Bakers came around 5:30 a.m. that Saturday, when Elisa Baker sounded anxious as she asked for help.

Our back yard is on fire,” she told dispatchers. “…We have mulch piles and wood piles because we sell firewood and stuff.”

The fire is related to Zahra's murder.

Firefighters and police responded, and while they were there found a handwritten ransom note on the windshield of the Bakers’ SUV parked at the house. The note was addressed to “Mr. Coffey” and said kidnappers had his daughter and wanted $1 million.

When police checked, they found Coffey’s family was unharmed.

The second 911 call came from Zahra’s father at 1:58 p.m. that same day.

He was polite and calm as he spoke to the dispatcher.

Hickory police, where is your emergency?”

Yeah, my daughter is missing,” said Adam Baker, 33.

What is your address?”

“21st Avenue Northwest. The police were out here last night over a fire and 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 explained how someone had poured gasoline on a company vehicle that he parked at his house, and that it might have been a diversion so kidnappers could enter his home.

Adam Baker told the dispatcher that maybe the kidnappers were confused.

“I guess they thought he (Coffey) lives in this house” Baker said.

Coffey owns the house, rented by the Bakers. Adam Baker worked for Coffey at a tree-trimming business that has a storage lot in Burke County – a site authorities have repeatedly searched for signs of Zahra.

Baker went on to tell the dispatcher that he last checked on his daughter about 2:30 a.m. that day – twelve hours before making his 911 call.

We had all that drama last night,” he said. “And me and my wife went back to bed. And my daughter is, I think, coming into puberty. So she’s hitting that brooding stage (chuckles). So we only see her when she wants something.”

See analysis which shows that when a 911 caller complains about the victim, it is a signal of guilty deception.
Adam Baker has not been charged in connection with his daughter’s disappearance.

Posted by Seamus O Riley at 8:53 AM

**StatementAnalysis
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PostSubject: A judge ruled to increase Baker's bond   Thu Oct 21, 2010 10:27 am

A judge ruled to increase Baker's bond


Judge calls her a flight risk, increases bond to $65,000








Credit: ROBERT C. REED / RECORD
Brittany Starbuck (left) comforts her sister Amber Fairchild (right) during the bond hearing for their mother Elisa Baker, stepmother of Zahra Clare Baker. Fairchild testified against her mother to help increase the bond. Baker is charged with felony obstruction of justice for writing a ransom note.

By Hickory Record Staff
Published: October 20, 2010
Updated: October 20, 2010 - 6:39 PM


Elisa Baker’s bond was increased Wednesday morning, when the district court judge decided she was a flight risk.


Catawba County District Judge Robert Mullinax Jr. increased her bond from $40,000 to $65,000, saying the allegations against Baker were “disturbing and unsettling.” The total bond against Baker is now $97,200.

Baker, 42, was in court for a bond reduction hearing. She is charged with felony obstruction of justice for writing a fake ransom note. That note was found on Oct. 9, the morning that her stepdaughter, Zahra Clare Baker, was reported missing.

Scott Reilly, her attorney, had hoped Baker’s bond would be reduced to the state’s sentencing guidelines, which range from $1 to $10,000. Reilly painted Baker as someone with a solid background. Reilly said Baker is a “lifetime resident of Caldwell and Catawba counties” and got her GED from Caldwell Community College.

Prosecutor Eric Bellas refuted this, though. He called one of Baker’s two daughters, Amber Fairchild, 25, to testify against Baker. The other daughter, Brittany Starbuck, 21, sat behind the prosecutor’s table in support of her sister.

Fairchild testified that Baker has lived in South Carolina for a period of time, as well as Kings Mountain. She said Baker also went to meet now-husband Adam in Australia and lived there for a year-and-a-half, returning in December 2008.

Bellas quizzed Fairchild on Baker’s nomadic lifestyle, and how she has lived in five places in the last 22 months. Fairchild said that pattern was normal for her as a child, saying she’s never had a stable residence growing up.

She lived with Baker until she was 17, although Fairchild said she talked with her mother until the day she was arrested.

Bellas also asked Fairchild about Baker’s international contacts. Fairchild said her mother had been in touch with a man from London online, and he had given her $10,000.

Baker met her husband, Adam Baker, through a virtual and social networking website.

Fairchild said her mother was in touch with the man from London up until a week before her arrest. She said Baker also talked of leaving North Carolina as recently as Oct 10, the day after Zahra was reported missing.

“She said she wished she could leave the state,” Fairchild said.

Baker was first jailed Oct. 10 for outstanding warrants.

Reilly admitted that Baker failed to appear in court for a few worthless check and communicating threats charges.

Bellas said it was many more charges than that.

He listed several driving and car infractions that Baker didn’t appear in court for in multiple counties, in addition to what Reilly discussed. Baker’s failure to appear in court goes back to 2005, according to Bellas. He said she also has unserved warrants from 2010, 2009, 2007 and 2003. Bellas said he’s not confident he has all of Baker’s offenses, citing the different names she’s used over the last 20 years.

“The only time the defendant does come to court is when the sheriff brings her to court,” Bellas said.

He asked for the bond to be increased to $100,000.

Baker appeared in court via video from the jail. During most of the court appearance, she sat with her hands folded in her lap, a passive expression on her face.

Reilly objected to Bellas putting on evidence against Baker, saying he’d never heard of such a thing.

“We need to ensure everyone is recommended fairly, regardless of the number of news cameras and media attention,” he said. “This is the exact reason we have recommended guidelines.”

He said if her bond was to be paid, it would likely be friends and family who did it, not Baker.

After Mullinax raised Baker’s bond to $65,000, citing her “litany of arrests,” and the “unsettling circumstances” surrounding this situation, deeming Baker a flight risk, he put additional conditions on the bond. If Baker is released on bail, she is to have a curfew from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. and electronic monitoring.

However, after the hearing, Reilly said he doesn’t believe friends or family will be able to raise the money necessary to get Baker out of jail.

“I’ve never heard of this charge getting a $65,000 (bond),” he said. “All I want is some fairness and some consistency in the ruling.”







Other facts learned about Elisa Baker from the hearing:

-Applied for disability because she has lupus and seizures;

-She had a falling out with her grandfather about a car;

-She is not in touch with her son;

-She is not known to hold a job; and

-The ransom note was found under the windshield wiper of the Chevy Tahoe.
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PostSubject: Zahra Baker's stepsister: Don't free my mother   Thu Oct 21, 2010 10:35 am

Zahra Baker's stepsister: Don't free my mother


By Steve Lyttle and Franco Ordonez
Staff writers
Posted: Thursday, Oct. 21, 2010





Slideshow
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  • Amber Fairchild described her mother as a potentially violent and unstable woman. Also Wednesday, authorities began searching a Lenoir landfill for evidence in order to establish an accurate timeline of Zahra Baker's disappearance. JEFF WILLHELM - jwillhelm@charlotteobserver.comBuy Photo | Store


  • Elisa Baker watches via video link to her bond hearing in Catawba County Superior Court. She requested that her $40,000 bond be reduced, but it was raised to $65,000.



Brittany Starbuck, left, and Amber Fairchild, daughters of Elisa Baker, sit in the courtroom Wednesday at Baker's bond hearing in Newton. Baker is being held on an obstruction charge in the disappearance of her stepdaughter, Zahra Baker. PHOTOS BY JEFF WILLHELM - jwillhelm@charlotteobserver.comBuy Photo | Store




Elisa Baker, center, stepmother of Zahra Clare Baker, appears before District Court Judge Gregory Hayes on an obstruction of justice charge Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2010 in Newrton, N.C. Baker is flanked by her attorneys, Jared Amos, left, and Scott Reilly, as she listens to Judge Hayes read the charges against her. She is accused of trying to throw off investigators with a fake ransom note.





  • Zahra Baker was last seen in public Sept. 25.


More Information






Zahra Baker's stepsister asked a judge Wednesday not to release her mother from jail, saying she feared for her safety and that of her own children.
Amber Fairchild, 25, described her mother, Elisa Baker, as a potentially violent and unstable woman who has severed ties with her N.C. family and begun an online relationship with a man in London.
Fairchild didn't specify why she was afraid, but a Catawba County prosecutor noted that Elisa Baker has had several allegations of communicating threats filed against her this year.
Elisa Baker is being held on a charge of obstructing justice after police say she admitted writing a phony ransom note to throw off the investigation into her stepdaughter Zahra's disappearance, which was reported Oct. 9.
Baker appeared Wednesday via video in Catawba County Superior Court, requesting that her $40,000 bond be reduced.
But Judge Robert Mullinax found her to be a "significant flight risk" and instead increased the bond to $65,000, saying the allegations against her were "disturbing and unsettling."
Also Wednesday, authorities began searching a Lenoir landfill for a "piece of evidence" they said could be critical to establishing an accurate timeline of Zahra's disappearance. They estimated the search of Foothills Environmental landfill could take five days.
Elisa Baker's attorney Scott Reilly said after the court hearing that he doubts she will be able to raise enough money to pay for the bond. He also noted that Baker faces an additional bond of $30,000 in Burke County, where she has been charged with writing bad checks.
Typically, to get out of jail, defendants must pay a bail bondsman 10 percent to 15percent of the bond set by the court. That means Elisa Baker would have to come up with a minimum of $6,500 to pay her Catawba bond and an additional $3,000 to pay her Caldwell bond.
Reilly said he and his client are looking for consistency and fairness.
"We haven't seen the first piece of evidence," he said.
But Assistant District Attorney Eric Bellas argued that Baker's bond should be increased after describing how Elisa Baker had met her current husband, Adam Baker, online while he was living in Australia with his daughter Zahra. Elisa Baker later moved to Australia to be with him, the prosecutor said, before the couple moved back to North Carolina in 2009.
Bellas didn't spell out the nature of Elisa Baker's new online relationship. But Fairchild identified the London man her mother was communicating with as Kara Fullman, and said the man has sent Baker $10,000 over the past year until very recently. She didn't describe why the man would send her mother money.
After the hearing, Adam Baker was at the family's Hickory house removing belongings. He told the Observer he hasn't spoken with his wife since she was arrested last week.
Hickory Police Chief Tom Adkins said investigators are "hopeful" they might still find Zahra alive, but they continue to consider the case a homicide. The girl, who is hearing impaired and uses a prosthetic leg after having bone cancer, was last seen alive in public Sept. 25, police said.
At the landfill, Adkins said: "We're not looking for her body."
Asked if investigators are searching for Zahra's prosthetic leg, he replied: "We're looking for a piece of evidence."
Hickory police have requested information from an Australian medical facility that provided Zahra with her prosthetic leg, including the model, serial number and materials used.
The announcement of the new search comes a day after police released recordings of two emergency calls made from Zahra Baker's home the day she was reported missing.
In the calls, Adam Baker suggested that Zahra might have been kidnapped while he and his wife were dealing with a fire in their back yard. Adam Baker told a dispatcher that someone left a ransom note directed to his boss and landlord, Mark Coffey. Adam Baker said the kidnappers might have taken Zahra by mistake in an attempt to abduct Coffey's daughter.
"I don't know if they set a fire in the yard to distract us to go out, and they snuck in the door," Adam Baker said.
Elisa Baker described herself on what appeared to be her MySpace page as "Gothic." The page titled "MissGothicfairy," which has since been removed, included photos of Zahra and Elisa Baker.
In one posting, Baker wrote "your kids rip your heart out." The page also contained violent music and graphics on a skull-and-crossbones background. And one photo featured a smiling Zahra dressed in black, with a caption that read: "the dark child!!!lol."
In court, Fairchild was accompanied Wednesday by Elisa Baker's other daughter, Brittany Starbuck. Their brother, Douglas Proctor, was also in court.
Fairchild testified that her mother never maintained a stable residence or a job. On Oct. 10, the day after Zahra was reported missing, Fairchild said her mother talked of wanting to move.
"She said, 'I wish I could leave the state,'" Fairchild said

**CharlotteObserver
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