Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Hunt for Zahra Baker

Searching for Remains


By now having doubts they would ever find Zahra alive, police on October 24, 2010, drove Elisa Baker to a location near her former home in Hudson, N.C., to search for the missing girl. Police would not say at that time what prompted them to take the action. Later, however, police said she had led them to the location and had allegedly told investigators that they could find Zahra's blood, bones, and bodily fluids in the drain pipes of the residence. Elisa Baker's cell phone records may have also played a part in determining the areas police would search. The sudden perceived cooperation by her spurred speculation that some kind of plea deal with the district attorney's office may have been reached, though such speculation was swiftly downplayed by the authorities.

The search continued
The search continued
The process was repeated the next day when investigators took her to another location off Dudley Shoals Road and Christie Road, also near where the family once resided, according to WBTV News.

On October 27, 2010, police found Zahra's prosthetic leg at the Dudley Shoals Road location. The discovery prompted an intensive search of the area, including along the banks and water of a nearby creek, for additional evidence. They eventually found a bone in that area in early November and sent it to the crime lab for DNA testing. A week later, on November 10, less than a week before Zahra's 11th birthday, searchers found additional possible human remains along the banks of Little River, the same general area where the bone had been found.

Later a logger working across the road from where Zahra's prosthetic leg had been located discovered a briefcase in the woods. It contained a blanket stained with a dark substance, possibly blood. Investigators said the briefcase and its contents were sent to the crime lab in Raleigh, N.C., and emphasized that they would not know if it was related to the case until the items had been forensically examined.

According to The Charlotte Observer and MSNBC, a number of the police search warrants indicated that investigators now believed that Zahra had been dismembered. Although the various warrants did not indicate how the young girl had died, police now believed her remains had been concealed in a bed comforter and car cover and discarded in a trash receptacle behind a grocery store.

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