Stepmother: Girl was dismembered

The Charlotte ObserverNovember 16, 2010 

Zahra Baker's body was dismembered and the remains hidden across several rural locations, according to a court document made public Monday, days after police announced the 10-year-old cancer survivor is dead.

The court filing is a motion by Zahra's stepmother, Elisa Baker, asking the court to reduce her $65,000 bail for obstruction of justice. The document provides specific, and at times grisly, details of what Elisa Baker says happened to the girl's body.

The document doesn't indicate how Zahra died or who may be responsible, but the motion argues that Baker's bail should be reduced because of her extensive and continuing cooperation.

"The only credible evidence released to the public by law enforcement related to this case is evidence that was collected after Elisa Baker told law enforcement where to look and what to look for," the motion says.

Elisa Baker's attorneys met with her for two hours Monday, but they declined to speak with reporters. They couldn't be reached for comment Monday night.

It wasn't clear Monday why Elisa Baker - in admitting involvement in a heinous crime - could be asking for reduced bail. Police haven't given a motive in the case.

Speculation has swirled around Elisa Baker and Adam Baker, Zahra's father, since shortly after the girl was reported missing Oct.9.

In the motion, Baker's lawyers say she has been instrumental in the investigation into the death of the girl who moved to the United States from Australia in 2009, after her father, Adam, married Elisa Baker.

Zahra Baker, who was hearing-impaired and had lost her left leg to cancer, was reported missing by her father in a call to police. On Friday, after a month of investigating, police said they had credible evidence that Zahra was dead and they had unearthed remains of a child they believe was Zahra.

Both Adam and Elisa Baker have denied wrongdoing in the case. Elisa Baker was arrested Oct. 10 on unrelated charges, then charged with obstruction of justice Oct. 12 after investigators say she admitted writing a bogus ransom note.

Baker went out with law enforcement agents to three sites Oct. 25, according to the court document. At each site, she described what would be found there and told officers where to look.

Among the evidence investigators found with Baker's help: a bone later identified as Zahra Baker's near Christie Road in Hudson and remains believed to be hers at another Caldwell County site along Dudley Shoals Road.

The document says Baker also directed investigators to other sites of possible evidence, including the dumpster where Zahra's mattress was discarded and undisclosed items found at the family's home.

Baker has continued to cooperate with authorities, the motion says. She was still in Catawba County jail Monday night. It was unclear Monday evening when a judge is expected to rule on the motion to reduce the bail.

WCNC-TV contributed to this story.

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