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Zahra Baker - a heartbreaking loss

November 13, 2010

2:30 a.m. Oct. 9
Elisa Baker, Zahra's stepmother, claims she saw Zahra sleeping in her bed.

5:30 a.m. Oct. 9
A brush fire is reported in the backyard of the Zahra's residence, located at 21 21st Ave. NW in Hickory.

A Hickory Police officer notices the smell of gasoline coming from a Chevrolet Tahoe parked on the property and finds a hand-written ransom note demanding $1 million in unmarked bills.

2 p.m. Oct. 9
Zahra is reported missing, and police issue an Amber Alert.

12:45 p.m. Oct. 10
A search and rescue dog trained in the recovery of bodies investigate Zahra's residence and vehicles found on the property. Shortly after, the dog gives a positive alert for human remains.

Oct. 10
Elisa Baker is arrested for charges unrelated to Zahra's search, including writing bad checks and driving with a revoked license.

10:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. Oct. 11
Hickory Police Department holds a press conference to ask for the public's help in Zahra's search. Hickory Police Chief Tom Adkins says police can't confirm if anyone outside of Zahra's immediate family saw in the last month.

Evening of Oct. 11
Elisa Baker admits during questioning at the Catawba County Justice Center to writing the ransom note. She is charged with obstruction of justice.

11:30 a.m. Oct. 12
Adkins cancels the Amber Alert for Zahra and says the case will continue as a homicide investigation.

10 a.m. Oct. 13
Elisa Baker appears in court at the Catawba County Justice Center in Newton. Her bond for the obstruction of justice charge is set at $40,000. Scott Reilly, Elisa Baker's attorney, said she is "scared to death."
Also on Oct. 13, investigators drain a pond in Burke County for clues in Zahra's disappearance.

6:30 Oct. 13
East Hickory Baptist Church holds a candlelight vigil for Zahra with more than 100 people attending to offer prayers and hope.

Oct. 13, 14
The search for Zahra continues at a wooded property in Burke County, where wood chipper equipment was being kept.

2 p.m. Oct. 15
Burke County Sheriff's Office says the search is complete at the Burke County property, and Zahra was not located. Officials said there are no plans to continue a search in Burke County unless additional leads surface.

Morning of Oct. 15
Investigators return to search Zahra's house at 21 21st Ave. NW in Hickory. Canine search and rescue dogs were on the property, but Maj. Clyde Deal with the Hickory Police Department, declines to comment about whether the dogs were alerted to any human remains or what items were taken from the residence. Investigators could be seen removing a mattress and other items from the home.

6 p.m. Oct. 15
Deal says police have no further intentions at this time to search the Burke County property.

Oct. 18
Police locate a Hickory furniture store employee who says she saw Zahra alive on Sept. 25, which is two weeks before the child was reported missing. Prior to locating the witness, investigators couldn't confirm anyone outside Zahra's immediate family saw the girl in the weeks leading up to her death.

Oct. 20
District Court Judge Robert A. Mullinax Jr. denies a request by Reilly to reduce Elisa Baker's bond. Mullinax increases Elisa Baker's bond $25,000 after he deems her a flight risk.

Investigators start searching the Foothills Environmental Landfill in Caldwell County for what they call a specific "piece of evidence."

Oct. 22
Investigators conclude their search of the landfill and say the search focuses on a mattress that possibly belonged to Zahra.

3 a.m. Oct. 25
Adam Baker is arrested at Hickory Police Department on charges unrelated to Zahra's disappearance. He is charged with five counts of worthless checks and three counts of failure to appear and placed in Catawba County jail under a $7,000 secured bond.

Oct. 26
Police release a statement saying Elisa Baker, with her attorneys Reilly and Lisa Dubbs, provided information to investigators during the search for Zahra.

Police announce they found a mattress matching the description of the one they sought in connection with Zahra's disappearance. An employee at the Foothills Environmental Landfill in Caldwell County found the mattress while regrading the site search the previous week.

Oct. 27
Investigators discover a prosthetic leg in a brushy area of Christie Road in Caldwell County. Police say they will use a serial number on the leg to confirm it belonged to the child.

Nov. 1
Police confirm the prosthetic leg found on Christie Road belonged to Zahra. Investigators contacted authorities at an Australian medical facility to determine the leg was Zahra's.

4:30 p.m. Nov. 3
Search teams in Caldwell County recover a bone that could be related to Zahra's case.

11 a.m. Nov. 11
Police release a statement saying they located potentially valuable evidence in the search for Zahra during an investigation of an area in Caldwell County.

4 p.m. Nov. 12
Adkins says police have enough physical evidence to believe they located Zahra's remains.

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