Zahra search continues at landfill
Police are searching an area landfill for a piece of evidence they say will shed light on the case of missing 10-year-old Zahra Clare Baker.
Hickory Police Department, with the help of the Caldwell County Sheriff's Office, started searching the Foothills Environmental Landfill on Wednesday in the hope of locating evidence to establish a timeline in Zahra's case.
Hickory Police Chief Tom Adkins declined to elaborate on what the piece of evidence is, but he said police are not looking for Zahra's body in the landfill.
When asked if crews were searching for Zahra's prosthetic leg in the landfill, Adkins said only that police are looking for "a piece of evidence."
Hickory Police Maj. Clyde Deal said Tuesday police requested medical records regarding Zahra's cancer treatment from an Australian medical center. Police specifically wanted to know the serial number of Zahra's prosthesis, as well as what material it was made of.
Adkins said Wednesday the evidence search at the Lenoir landfill is "very methodical and time-intensive" and could last five days. HPD started planning the search Friday with landfill officials.
"This team of law enforcement professionals that are working on this case are determined to find the truth and seek justice for Zahra," Adkins said.
Investigators will search the landfill only when it is open, and sheriff's deputies will secure the site daily when it closes.
The landfill is located on Cheraw Road in Lenoir. Adkins declined to say how the piece of evidence might have ended up in the landfill.
Caldwell County Sheriff Alan Jones said the sheriff's office is involved mostly in the security aspect of the landfill search to ensure no one disturbs the landfill or removes anything from the site.
The U.S. Marshal Service, the State Bureau of Investigation, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Evidence Recovery Team members are also assisting with the search.
Jones said trash in the landfill, which comes from Burke, Caldwell and Catawba counties, isn't incinerated.
The case continues as a homicide investigation, although Adkins said the department still hopes Zahra is alive.
Adkins said the department is "keeping every option open" and hasn't ruled anyone out as a person of interest, including Zahra's father and stepmother, Adam and Elisa Baker.
Adam Baker reported Zahra missing Oct. 9 from her home in Hickory. Police changed the missing-person investigation into a homicide investigation Oct. 12.
Employees at a furniture store on U.S. 70 in Hickory reported seeing Zahra, Elisa Baker and an unidentified woman in the store Sept. 25.
This is the last time someone outside of the immediate family saw Zahra alive, according to police.
Adkins asked anyone who has seen Zahra Baker during the weeks before she was reported missing to call HPD at (828) 328-5551 or 9-1-1.