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Inconsistencies emerge in Zahra case

January 4, 2011

New details emerged Tuesday in the Zahra Baker case, revealing inconsistencies in accounts provided by key players in the investigation.

According to recently unsealed search warrants, Zahra's stepmother, Elisa Baker, told police her stepdaughter died Sept. 24. Elisa Baker said Zahra's father, Adam Baker, then dismembered the child and scattered her remains the next day in various locations in Caldwell and Catawba counties, including Christie Road in Hudson and the Dudley Shoals Road/Burns Road areas.

The new information is detailed in 29 search warrants, which were unsealed Tuesday by Catawba County Superior Court Judge Robert C. Ervin.

These warrants amount to more than 200 pages of information in the Zahra investigation.

Elisa Baker's testimony in the warrants, however, contradicts the story of a Hickory furniture store employee, who said she saw Zahra alive and well Sept. 25.

Pat Adams, of In Your Home Furnishings in Hickory, told The O-N-E in October she saw Zahra, Elisa Baker and another female in the store Sept. 25.

Adams said she and several other employees saw Zahra's prosthetic leg and hearing aids and wondered what happened to the child to cause her disabilities. Adams also said an employee heard Elisa Baker say Zahra's name, and the employee remembered the name because of its uniqueness.

Elisa Baker's testimony is further questioned by GPS location of Adam Baker's cell phone, which says Adam Baker wasn't in Caldwell County at the time when Elisa Baker said he scattered the child's remains.

Elisa Baker's cell phone records, however, reveal she was in the areas Sept. 25 where Zahra's remains were discovered.

The warrants identify Elisa Baker as a suspect in Zahra's disappearance, which was first reported by Adam Baker on Oct. 9. Elisa Baker was arrested one day later on charges unrelated to Zahra's disappearance. She has been jailed ever since.

Elisa Baker later admitted to writing a bogus ransom note, which was found on a vehicle at the former Baker rental property in Hickory. A Catawba County Grand Jury indicted her in November on a felony obstruction of justice charge relating to the ransom note.

Elisa Baker was set to appear Tuesday in Catawba County Superior Court for her obstruction of justice charge, but her attorney, Scott Reilly, appeared in her place.

Reilly requested the case be continued, so he could have access to evidence obtained by the prosecution. Ervin set Elisa Baker's next court appearance for March 7. The recently unsealed warrants say Elisa Baker was married to Aaron Young when she married Adam Baker. Elisa Baker allegedly misled Adam Baker to think Young was her brother, not her husband.

The warrants maintain Elisa Baker and Young contacted each other via telephone and in person on a frequent basis.

This contact led police to request access to Young's phone records, as well as phone records for Elisa and Adam Baker.

The Hickory Police Department also requested access to a cell phone number belonging to Timothy Samuel "Sammy" Young. The warrants claim Elisa Baker was involved in a sexual relationship and the use of illegal controlled substances with Timothy.

Young was previously mentioned in warrants relating to Zahra's case. The warrants said a source claimed Timothy and Lewis James Young raped Zahra and "might have hit (Zahra) on the head" and killed her.

No one has been charged in Zahra's death.

A Catawba County Grand Jury met Monday to consider bills of indictment in county criminal cases. The Catawba County Clerk of Court confirmed four cases were continued to the grand jury's next session, but wouldn't say whether one of those cases was the Zahra investigation.

HPD submitted its findings to the District Attorney's Office last month.

This prosecution summary includes evidence in the case that could be used to charge someone in Zahra's death.

The warrants released Tuesday reveal HPD wanted access to Elisa Baker's medical records from several area health care providers, including Carolinas Medical Center-Lincoln, Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem and Kings Mountain Hospital in Kings Mountain.

The warrants also request information from several area social services departments dating from 1999 about Elisa Baker's three biological children.

A report alleging Elisa Baker's physical abuse against Zahra Baker was made in July with the Caldwell County Department of Social Services and was later transferred to the Catawba County Department of Social Services.

The report claimed Elisa Baker abused Zahra, and the child had a black eye as a result.

Another warrant in the case, which was filed Monday, remains sealed.

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