Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Hunt for Zahra Baker

Zahra Possibly Raped


Capt. Thurman Whisnant
Capt. Thurman Whisnant

On Thursday, October 14, 2010, police received a tip from a known source that Zahra recently had been at a house on Burke County Road with two men, according to a statement of probable cause signed by Capt. Thurman Whisnant of the Hickory Police Department. The source, according to the statement, was told on October 12, 2010, about another man who had been told about Zahra being at the house from a relative. Although the information was third-hand hearsay at best, the informant told police one of the men had said that he had "done something very bad and needed to leave town." The source said that when the mother returned, the little girl had blood on "private area and legs" and that the two men had raped her. The informant claimed that Elisa Baker and one of the men had "some kind of relationship." The informant said that he had asked the man who related the information to him if they had killed the little girl, and the man said that they may have hit her in the head.

The next day investigators went to the house in question where they found a large mattress lying on the ground in the side yard. Detectives observed that it had a large dark stain in the middle of the mattress. A male occupant of the house told one of the investigators that the mattress was his and that he had removed it from the residence to allow it to "air out" because he had urinated on it. The man said that he knew Zahra Baker but to his knowledge she had never been to the house. The mattress was seized as possible evidence.

By this time police said that they were running down more than 100 leads that had been reported by the public, including people who said that Zahra may have been mistreated at home. An apartment manager at one of the Bakers' former residences said that she had seen Zahra when the family moved there in July 2009, but had never seen her again despite the fact that they lived next door.

Meanwhile, investigators wrapped up their search for evidence at the tree service company where Adam Baker worked and announced that no evidence had been found there.

Adam Baker
Adam Baker
The next morning, Friday, October 15, 2010, police conducted another search of the Baker residence after obtaining Adam Baker's permission, according to the Hickory Daily Record. K-9 units were part of the search effort and evidence, including a mattress, was seized. The significance or evidentiary value of that particular mattress was not immediately revealed, nor was it stated publicly whose mattress it was or from which bedroom it had been taken.

Investigators also searched the Baker's former apartment in another county, where a bed frame and mattress were removed. Managers of the complex told police they believed Zahra had been kept in the attic there, and said there appeared to be signs of a struggle inside a closet, according to WBTV News.

As concerned neighbors and well-wishers continued to fill the Baker's lawn with flowers, notes, and stuffed animals, Adam Baker thanked the police and the public for their efforts to find Zahra.

"I just hope they keep looking," he said. "Try to find my baby."

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