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Thread: FBI hunt is on for missing Australian girl Zahra Baker

  1. #51
    Moderator rubberducky's Avatar
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    coffee Remains of Zahra Baker Found

    Investigators' worse fears were realized this week when preliminary DNA testing indicated that human remains found in Caldwell County were those of a missing 10-year-old North Carolina girl. Police confirmed at a press conference that a bone they found in their search belonged to Zahra Baker.
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    Remains of Zahra Baker Found originally appeared on About.com Crime / Punishment on Saturday, November 13th, 2010 at 01:30:20.
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  2. #52
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    HICKORY Zahra Baker's biological mother arrived from Australia and headed Thursday to the makeshift memorial in a Hickory front yard dedicated to her 10-year-old daughter.

    It was an emotional scene, a day before police announced Friday that evidence now suggests that Zahra Baker is dead. The images of Emily Dietrich crying over Zahra were played repeatedly on national TV as people around the world waited Friday for police to conduct a press conference.

    Dietrich, who says she gave up Zahra as a newborn to father Adam Baker while suffering from postpartum depression, had arrived from Australia with a TV news crew and had spoken earlier with police.

    At the late-afternoon news conference, police said a bone found in rural Caldwell County belonged to Zahra and that human remains found buried near a creek in that county probably belonged to a child. The N.C. Medical Examiner will use DNA evidence to identify the remains.

    Dietrich wasn't spotted publicly in Hickory on Friday. But on Thursday, she stopped at Zahra's house and walked to a tree surrounded by stuffed animals and candles. She hugged one of the neighbors and cried while reading letters written to Zahra.

    She broke down in tears several times on camera, putting her hand over her mouth as if unable to speak and leaning against a tree for support.

    "I feel sick," she said. "I feel sick that in that house she was hurt."

    Zahra was born to Dietrich in Australia. The child survived bone cancer, but part of her leg had to be amputated. She walked with a prosthetic limb. She also needed hearing aids in both ears.

    Zahra was reported missing on Oct. 9 by her father, who moved with his daughter to Hickory from Australia a year ago after marrying Elisa Baker. The couple had met on the Internet.

    Elisa Baker is in jail on felony charges after police say she admitted writing a phony ransom note.

    Adam Baker has surrendered his passport to authorities, though they haven't named him a person of interest.

    The search for Zahra became international news. At first, reporters couldn't find Dietrich in Australia. But she surfaced recently in broadcast interviews on Australian TV. Australia's News 7 followed Dietrich to North Carolina this week.

    At the Hickory Police Department, Dietrich met with investigators and received news that left her shaking. She later told the TV crew that investigators didn't tell her specifics about their discoveries, but that she knew it was bad news.

    Dietrich, who lives in Wagga Wagga in southwest New South Wales, said she had tried, sporadically and unsuccessfully, to reunite with her daughter.

    She told News 7 that she would make contact with Adam Baker about Zahra, then lose contact when Adam Baker would unexpectedly take Zahra somewhere else.

    "I can't explain the anger, the hurt," she said. "He had no right to do any of it, to keep her from me."

    She said she didn't know her daughter had moved to the U.S. until three days before Zahra was reported missing in early October. Dietrich used the Internet to track down her daughter.

    "I never got to say goodbye. I never even got to say hello," she said. "Unless you understand the story, you won't understand the pain."


    Read more: Zahra's mom: 'I can't explain the anger, the hurt' - CharlotteObserver.com


  3. #53
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    HICKORY -- Zahra Baker's mother tearfully expressed her thanks to investigators for their tireless work finding her daughter, and helping her "get her daughter back in her life."

    Emily Dietrich headed home to Australia Sunday evening after spending an emotional four days in North Carolina. While here, she visited the memorial to her daughter outside the Bakers' former home, and listened as police gave her terrible news -- that remains found in Caldwell County belonged to Zahra.

    Before she left, she said her painful journey had been "a blessing in disguise."

    "I can't cry 24 hours a day," said Dietrich. "I do have to pick myself up and move forward at some point, and I also need to take a breath from the pain every now and then."

    She took that breath Saturday night at the home of David and Lisa Ridgway, who live in northwest Hickory not far from the Bakers' former home. The Ridgways invited Dietrich to their home for dinner, for a chance to relax and clear her head from the events of the week.

    "Your heart just aches and your heart goes out to her and her whole family," said Lisa Ridgway, as she and her husband prepared dinner with Dietrich.

    "It's almost shocking to see her strength," said David Ridgway. "I know for a fact I wouldn't hold up as well as she's been doing."

    Dietrich is clearly touched by the outpouring of support for her daughter by the community. As hard as it was for her to see the memorial in front of the Bakers' former home, she is glad she visited.

    "It brought me closer to her," she explained. "As much as I was disgusted to look at the house, she was there -- and that took me that step closer to her. And to see the tokens that everybody had left for her and the letters.." She expressed a heartfelt thanks to everyone in Hickory who has rallied to her daughter's cause.

    "Even in the middle of all this awfulness, I've seen the beauty that is in North Carolina, and I've seen the beauty of the people and the places in Hickory," she said.

    Dietrich said when she gets home, she will celebrate Zahra's birthday, which is Tuesday. Zahra would be 11. She and a friend will make dinner and a cake one with purple icing and a "My Little Pony" on top. Her next step will be to work with the consulate to bring Zahra's body home for a burial in Australia.

    Before she left, her most emotional gratitude was saved for law enforcement officers who worked on Zahra's case.

    "My appreciation will be with you forever," she said tearfully. "I will never forget everything you have done to change my life. Thank you."
    .

    Read more: Zahra's mother: My appreciation will be with you forever - CharlotteObserver.com


  4. #54
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    CATAWBA COUNTY, N.C.-- Court documents filed Monday in Catawba County show that Zahra Baker's body was dismembered and spread across different sites.

    Elisa Baker's attorney Lisa Dubb's filed paperwork Monday to have Baker's bond reduced.

    According to the court documents Elisa Baker told her lawyers and investigators she had knowledge of Zahra's disappearance on October 22nd.

    Investigators were able to determine that Baker's information was reliable.

    That same day, according to the documents, Elisa Baker agreed to start cooperating with law enforcement.

    The paperwork says on October 24th "Law enforcement was informed that Zahra Baker was deceased, that her body had been dismembered and that it would be recovered at different sites."

    The document states authorities were the told of two locations that needed to be searched for Zahra's remains.

    On October 25th, Elisa Baker was taken to the search areas.

    Baker took them to Christie Road and that is where Zahra's prosthetic leg was found.

    The documents state, "Elisa Baker identified the object found as a part of a prosthetic leg and specifically identified it as a gel liner that belonged to Zahra Baker." Later on, a bone was discovered at this site which has been identified as Zahra's.

    Elisa then told authorities where else to look.

    On October 26th Baker went with law enforcement to the Caldwell County landfill where they recovered a mattress that Baker had said she had thrown out.

    At this point Baker is said to have point investigators to where the rest of Zahra's remains could be found.

    The document state Elisa Baker has given, "the only credible evidence released to the public."

    The document says they are asking for the bond reduction because Elisa Baker has been cooperating with authorities during the investigation.

    Baker is currently being held in the Catawba County Jail on obstruction of justice charges.

    Read more: Court documents: Zahra was dismembered - CharlotteObserver.com


  5. #55
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    coffee Stepmom Says Zahra Was Dismembered

    A 10-year-old disabled North Carolina girl reported missing Oct. 9 was dismembered and her remains scattered at several different sites, according to attorneys for her stepmother in papers filed with the court. Elisa Baker reportedly led investigators to several sites where they found the remains of Zahra Baker.
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    Stepmom Says Zahra Was Dismembered originally appeared on About.com Crime / Punishment on Tuesday, November 16th, 2010 at 00:01:06.
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    Zahra Baker's body was dismembered and the remains hidden across several rural locations, a court document said for the first time Monday, days after police said that 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 bond for obstruction of justice. The motion, filed Monday afternoon in Superior Court, provides specific and at times grisly details of what Elisa Baker says happened to the young girl's body.

    The document doesn't indicate how Zahra died or who may be responsible, but the motion argues that Baker's bond 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 declined to speak with reporters. They couldn't be reached for comment Monday night.

    It wasn't clear Monday why Elisa Baker, in admitted some knowledge of Zahra's death, could be asking for a lower bond. Police haven't given a motive in the case.

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

    A family member interviewed by CNN's Nancy Grace described talking with Elisa Baker in jail.

    "As we talked with her, she cried over missing Zahra and how her husband has left her to take all the blame for what has happened when he played a big part in this terrible situation," the cousin said in the interview. The cousin spoke on condition of anonymity because of death threats the family has received.

    The owner of a crime memorabilia website is selling two letters he claims he received from Elisa Baker saying her stepdaughter, Zahra, is dead, and that her husband did something "horrifying" to the girl after her death.

    "We didn't really kill her but what he did after the fact is kinda horrifying," says one of the letters Eric Gein claims he got from Elisa Baker, who is in jail. "Makes me scared of him."

    In Monday's motion, they 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 walked with the help of a prosthesis after losing her left leg to cancer, was reported missing by her father in a call to police.

    On Friday, after more than a month of investigating, police said they had credible evidence that Zahra was dead, and had unearthed remains of a child they believe was Zahra.

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

    According to Monday's motion to reduce bond, Elisa Baker told her attorneys on Oct. 22 that she had information about the disappearance and death of Zahra Baker.

    Elisa Baker's defense attorneys notified police the next morning, indicating that Baker was willing to cooperate with investigators. But, they said, investigators had to move fast because weather could destroy evidence, according to the document.

    Investigators were told that Zahra Baker was deceased, that her body had been dismembered and that body parts would be discovered at different sites. The defense team suggested that Baker needed to be present because of the remote locations of the sites.

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

    At one point, she was photographed by television news cameras inside a red SUV being driven by law enforcement agents.

    The document says officers recovered the gel liner of the prosthetic leg near Christie Road in Hudson because of Baker. The site is near where Elisa Baker used to live.

    Investigators also found evidence at two other sites because of Baker, the document says: a bone later identified as Zahra Baker's at the Christie Road site and remains believed to be those of Zahra Baker at another Caldwell County location along Dudley Shoals Road.

    The document says Baker also directed investigators to other sites where possible evidence was located, 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.

    Read more: Zahra Baker's stepmom gave explicit details in death - CharlotteObserver.com


  7. #57
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    new North Carolina community remembers Zahra Baker

    Residents of Hickory, North Carolina, held a candlelight vigil to celebrate the life of Zahra Baker, the freckle-faced girl authorities discovered dead more than a month after she was reported missing.



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    THE father of murdered girl Zahra Baker has broken his silence, saying he wants to return to Australia and bring the body of his little girl home.

    Adam Baker told a US television station that without his daughter, his life in his adopted home of Hickory, North Carolina would never be the same.

    Mr Baker is under intense scrutiny over his daughter's death after the dismembered remains of the cancer survivor were recovered this week - more than a month after she was reported missing.

    "There is no way I would have done that to my baby," a tearful Mr Baker told WBTV in the US.

    "There is no way in the world I would have hurt my daughter."

    Mr Baker spoke out on the day Zahra should have been blowing out 11 candles on her birthday cake.

    Instead, thousands gathered with their own candles at a vigil in Hickory to remember the girl who fought so hard to beat cancer only to have her life snatched away.

    Mr Baker did not attend the vigils, instead watchingvia the internet with his lawyer and mother by his side.

    He said his presence would have been a disruption as there is a lot of anger towards him.

    "I didn't want everybody to take their focus off Zahra," Mr Baker said.

    Mr Baker refused to comment on his wife's role in Zahra's disappearance, and subsequent murder, saying only he believed the police were getting closer to finding the truth.

    Zahra's stepmother Elisa Baker remains in custody charged over a fake ransom note found after Zahra was reported missing.

    Mr Baker moved to the US to be with Mrs Baker but said with Zahra gone he can no longer live in the area.

    Even if he returns to Australia his life will never be the same, he said.

    "There is no possible way to ever fill the hole left by my daughter."

    I did not kill my darling Zahra, says her father | The Daily Telegraph


  9. #59
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    IT took Zahra Baker to die, it seems, before she was ever truly loved. That is not her failure, but ours.

    Here was a young girl born to misery. Indeed, when you read the increasing news reports, you wonder if there was a day in her life when she was ever free from pain, ever truly happy. Born to a mum who gave her away, she died under a father who has to declare he did not dismember her body.

    All the while in between she lost.

    She lost her family and she lost her home town, forced to follow her father overseas. She lost her hearing. Lost her leg. She very nearly lost her life - and then she did.

    Her life was an uphill road. Too hard, if there was any fairness in this world, for one too young.

    Maybe that is why, on Tuesday, thousands of people in two countries turned out for a little girl they did not know. They all sang. Some wept. They held candles in cups with R.I.P Zahra penned on the side. It would have been her 11th birthday.

    In North Carolina, in the US, the local police chief stood in front of the crowd at just one of those vigils.

    "Thirty-nine days ago, most of us did not know Zahra Baker," said Tom Adkins. His Hickory Police Department has led the homicide investigation.

    "In more than a month, we've fallen in love with her and become better people because of her."

    And that's the thing. Nobody doubted its veracity. The question is why?

    For one, if these people can grow to love what is, in effect, her memory, why was it missing from her life?

    While the vigils were being held, Zahra's father Adam Baker was also missing. He was at home watching on the internet. He had his mother beside him. And his lawyer.

    Who did he expect to come crashing through the door at that time? The modern father, he later felt moved to speak.

    "There is no way I would have done that to my baby," he told a news conference.

    He was talking, of course, about Zahra's dismembered remains being found scattered around the state.

    "There is no way in the world I would have hurt my daughter."

    They held other vigils around North Carolina. They held one, too, in Giru, the small town south of Townsville where Zahra lived before moving to America.

    There, they knew her misery. She was diagnosed with bone cancer when she was five and what happy days there were before this are redundant. Who can ever remember more than a handful?

    Her life after that was fighting her cancer which eventually took her leg and part of her hearing. The cancer came back, in the form of secondary lung cancer. She fought it off again.

    It is here we get the first inkling of this remarkable young girl.

    She fought the cancer, they say, with a bravery that went beyond her fight. Others felt it, and so were drawn to her.

    Kim Wright lives in Giru and they considered themselves best friends.

    Zahra was five, Kim was 40. She struggles to now talk about her.

    "I have to recover from this too," she says.

    The first the rest of us heard about Zahra was after she disappeared in the US.

    Zahra and her father had moved there after Baker had fallen in love, supposedly, over the internet. He flew to America and married Elisa Baker, a self-described "Gothic fairy princess". Good luck with that.

    Early in her disappearance it already looked bad, the fulfilment of such ill-potential.

    Zahra was missing and a ransom note appeared. Suspicion fell on what might have happened at home.

    Kayla Rotenberry, an American woman who knew the family when they lived in Sawmills, peeled back the first scab on this supposedly modern love story.

    SHE recalled noticing Elisa's hand was swollen. "She told me that she was trying to spank Zahra, but hit her on her prosthetic leg," she said.

    "When Adam asked her about the injury, she said she fell and hurt her hand. She didn't want him to know.

    "She knew he would be mad."

    Another former neighbour Brandy Stapleton confirmed the version.

    "She wasn't the person everyone thought she was," she said.

    There were allegations Elisa kept Zahra locked in a cupboard. Allowed out for only five minutes a day. That she punished her when she fell after walking too long on her prosthetic leg.

    As the search continued, police had trouble finding anyone outside her parents who had seen her in the weeks before she disappeared. Soon after, Elisa Baker was arrested and is still being held, charged with writing the fake ransom note. Her new husband claimed to be shocked.

    Elisa has since claimed that Adam "knows" what happened to his daughter. She made the claim to bargain for her freedom, which she then strengthened by leading investigators to the various locations where her body parts were found.

    And then, as this was happening, an odd thing happened. The stories began to trickle out.

    Not the cancer or the prosthetic leg or the hearing aids, but the spirit.

    Ribbons were tied outside her home. A shrine of toys and stuffed teddy bears grew.

    The story's momentum gathered, and we began to learn about this unusual little girl.

    There were the soldiers from B Squadron, 3rd/4th Cavalry Regiment, on a run from Townsville to Innisfail when they pulled in to Camp Quality to give the kids a ride in their Bushmasters.

    You can guess which kid stood out.

    "They don't make them much tougher than little Zahra Baker," begins the testimony on the Army website, right below a photo of Zahra (above) sitting atop the vehicle.

    "The picture tells the whole story," Zahra's gran said. "She handles everything with a smile."

    Others saw the smile, heard the stories and began to smile themselves. Why is it that the ones with so little to give end up being the ones who give so much?

    Zahra looked inside herself and such was her lot others began looking inside themselves for answers, too.

    "She was a very special little girl, I'll never meet another one like her," Kim Wright said.

    Ms Wright knew Zahra like none of the rest of us do, yet, somehow, we all still feel her. Police chief Adkins has felt it, too. As have the people of North Carolina.

    It makes you wonder how so many people have grown to love this little girl they did not know, and now will never know. This little girl with so much to overcome, born to misery.

    It was not her memory people have fallen in love with.

    It was her example

    A smile hid little Zahra Baker's pain | The Daily Telegraph


  10. #60
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    new Warrant: N.C. girl may have been raped

    Police are investigating reports that Zahra Baker, the 10-year-old disabled girl who was killed in North Carolina, may have been raped prior to her death, according to police search warrants that were unsealed Tuesday.



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