Relative: Missing Hickory girl had terrible home life

Relative: Missing Hickory girl had terrible home life


by BETH SHAYNE / NewsChannel 36
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Posted on October 12, 2010 at 7:26 AM

Updated Wednesday, Oct 20 at 12:06 PM

HICKORY, N.C. -- The search for a 10-year-old girl from Hickory entered its third day Tuesday with grim new details from a search warrant and questions from people who knew both Zahra Baker and her step mom Elisa.

Zahra was reported missing around 2 p.m. Saturday.

Her stepmother, Elisa Baker, says she last saw the girl around 2:30 a.m. Saturday. She is now in jail on unrelated charges of communicating threats and passing worthless checks.

Monday, Hickory Police Chief Tom Adkins said she is not cooperating with the investigation into Zahra's disappearance.

Brittany Bentley, who was married to Elisa's nephew, said her heart dropped when she heard Zahra was missing.

"I knew this day was going to come. Everybody that knew Zahra knew how she was being treated. This was going to happen," she said.

Bentley is no friend of the family. She says she filed the charges for "communicating threats" that Elisa Baker is now in jail for. Bentley says those charges stemmed from an argument during which she says Baker threatened to kill her, her husband, and their child.

"I knew this was going to happen someday," she said.

Bentley said Zahra had a miserable home life and was locked in her room for most of the day. She said Zahra was only allowed out of her room for about five minutes each day to eat.

Bentley also said Elisa Baker would get mad and take it out on Zahra, whose bone cancer left her with a prosthetic leg and hearing aids.

Bentley and about 30 others searched the Hickory neighborhood where Zahra disappeared as darkness fell Monday. Many of the searchers, including Bentley, said they did not feel optimistic.

A search warrant released earlier in the day revealed that cadaver dogs had positive hits for the presence of human remains in two vehicles now seized from the Baker’s house.

The warrant also mentioned blood.

Charles Rotenberry, a friend of the family, called police after finding a glove in the bushes near the Baker’s backyard.

“It had a bad smell to it and there was just red goo all in it,” he says.

Chief Adkins asked for the public's help in determining when Zahra Baker was last seen. The 10-year-old is a bone cancer survivor who wears a prosthetic leg and two hearing aids.  She is 5-feet-1 and was last seen wearing a camouflage T-shirt and black leggings.

(The Associated Press contributed.)