Zahra's stepmother faces identity theft, property charges

Zahra's stepmother faces identity theft, property charges

Zahra's stepmother faces identity theft, property charges

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by Associated Press

WCNC.com

Posted on February 28, 2011 at 5:55 PM

Updated Tuesday, Mar 1 at 9:46 AM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- The North Carolina woman accused of killing her 10-year-old stepdaughter is facing new charges.

A Caldwell County grand jury Monday indicted Elisa Baker, 42, on two counts each of financial identity fraud and obtaining property by false pretenses.

The indictment says Baker used her daughter Brittany Starbuck's identity -- Social Security number, driver's license and date of birth -- to set up phone and utility service last year in her rural home.

Starbuck, the oldest of Elisa Baker's three biological children, had been living with her mother in the home.

Elisa Baker was indicted last week on a charge of second-degree murder in the death of Zahra Baker, a freckle-faced girl whose disappearance and death have riveted communities in North Carolina and her native Australia.

Calls to Elisa Baker's lawyer were not immediately returned. She remains in jail. Her bail was set at $300,000.

This is the latest in a series of developments over the last week involving Elisa Baker. An autopsy report said Zahra's death was caused by "undetermined homicidal violence." An autopsy was done even though authorities haven't recovered many bones, most notably the girl's skull, months after she was reported missing. Several bones showed cutting tool marks consistent with dismemberment.

There also were revelations that social service agencies failed to find mistreatment in Zahra's home despite numerous complaints, and the admission by the former defense team that they removed a key piece of evidence from a crime scene.

Earlier, The Associated Press found that Elisa Baker has been married seven times, including several overlapping marriages. She's been charged with one count of bigamy for her marriage to Zahra's father, Adam. The couple met online, and they were married in Australia in July 2008, before moving to North Carolina.

Adam Baker has not been charged in connection with Zahra's disappearance or death, but he faces unrelated charges that include writing worthless checks.

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