Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Hunt for Zahra Baker

Searching the Landfill


Later that same month, investigators turned their attention in their search "for a piece of evidence" to a Caldwell County landfill located about 20 miles from Zahra's home. Hickory Police Chief Tom Adkins would not say what investigators were looking for, but acknowledged they had been searching many of the services used by the Baker family, including trash disposal.

Searchers at the landfill
Searchers at the landfill

"We hope that if we find this evidence that it will provide a good, solid timeline that will assist us in working this case," Adkins said, according to ABC News.

Police decided to search the landfill after conducting a number of interviews. They also made the decision to search the landfill after determining the model and serial numbers for Zahra's prosthetic leg from her medical records. But when the search was completed they had not found Zahra's leg, nor any other evidence related to the case.

During this time, police released the 911 calls from Adam Baker related to his daughter's disappearance. During the call he claimed to have last seen his daughter at 2:30 a.m. on Saturday, October 9, 2010, yet only days later he said on Good Morning America that he had not seen Zahra since Thursday due to his work schedule.

Elisa Baker
Elisa Baker

"The police were out here last night after finding a ransom note for my boss's daughter," Baker said to a dispatcher in the 911 call. "I got up a little while ago and it appears they took my daughter instead of my boss's daughter ... I don't know if they set a fire in the yard to distract us to go out and then they snuck in the door, or, I don't know ... My daughter's coming into puberty so she's in that brooding stage, so we only see her when she comes out, when she wants something."

Meanwhile, additional investigation into Elisa Baker's background found that she had been married at least seven times, according to the Associated Press. Detectives learned of one period in her life in which she was married to three men at the same time. The bigamous marriages seemed to start in the 1990s, and police found that she had been still married to another man when she had wed Adam Baker. Bigamy was added to the growing list of charges she faced.

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