- Special Sections
- Auto Racing
Police confirmed Monday that the prosthetic leg found in Caldwell County belonged to a disabled child now missing for more than three weeks.
Hickory Police Department said in a press release they confirmed the prosthesis match using serial numbers on the leg.
Ten-year-old Zahra Baker lost her lower left leg to bone cancer. Zahra's hearing was also damaged during cancer treatment, forcing her to wear hearing aids.
A scanner was used to extract the serial number from a transponder placed inside the prosthetic leg, according to police. Authorities collaborated with medical institutions in Australia, where the leg was fitted, to validate the match.
A Catawba County grand jury convened Monday and indicted Zahra's stepmother, Elisa Baker, on a felony obstruction of justice charge.
According to the indictment Elisa Baker, "unlawfully, willfully and feloniously did with deceit and intent to defraud a police investigation, obstruct justice by constructing and placing a false ransom letter and reporting an abduction of her stepdaughter, Zahra Baker."
Elisa Baker allegedly wrote the ransom note, which was discovered on the Baker property hours before Zahra was reported missing. The note claimed a girl was kidnapped and demanded $1 million.
HPD Maj. Clyde Deal said the department has a close working relationship with the District Attorney's Office and will continue to work with the office throughout the remainder of the case. Deal said the only findings the department submitted to the District Attorney's Office at this time is the information regarding Elisa Baker's obstruction of justice charge.
"We have had some discussions with the DA, and we continue to be in contact with them on a daily basis," Deal said.
As the grand jury convened Monday, investigators continued their search of the Baker residence, located at 21 21st Ave. NW in Hickory.
Deal said crews were expected to finish their searches by Monday afternoon. Officials are tight-lipped about what they're searching for at the Baker house and other areas of Caldwell County. Deal said some pieces of evidence were recovered during searches last weekend, but he wouldn't elaborate on what was found or where it was located.
Deal said the investigation doesn't center on one piece of evidence, and authorities are looking for anything that might lead them to Zahra. Authorities have search warrants for the Baker residence, but the warrants are sealed.
Deal said police received tips and leads in the investigation last weekend, leading search crews back to areas in Caldwell County near the discovery of the prosthetic leg on Christie Road.
B.J. Fore of the Caldwell County Sheriff's Office said the office is following Hickory Police Department's lead during any investigations in Catawba County.
Elisa Baker and Zahra's father, Adam Baker, previously assisted police with the investigation to find Zahra, but those collaborations recently stopped.
Adam Baker was arrested Oct. 25 on outstanding warrants unrelated to his daughter's disappearance. He was later released from Catawba County jail on a $7,000 secured bond. Deal said police haven't been in contact with Adam Baker since his release from jail, but he said Adam Baker isn't in possession of his passport.
Hickory Police Department said Adam Baker was at Charlotte Douglas International Airport picking up family members prior to his arrest. Deal said those family members were Adam Baker's mother and brother. Deal said he thinks the mother and brother are sill in Catawba County with Adam Baker.
Elisa Baker also worked with police during their investigation, but Deal said that collaboration, too, has ended for now.
Elisa Baker was set to appear Monday in a Burke County court on a larceny charge unrelated to her stepdaughter's disappearance. Elisa Baker is being held in Catawba County jail under a $97,200 secured bond. She is scheduled to appear in Catawba County court Nov. 3 for a probable cause hearing on the obstruction of justice charge.
The Lenoir News-Topic contributed to this report.