HICKORY, N.C. The search for a 10-year-old cancer survivor has turned into a homicide investigation.
Zahra Baker was reported missing on Saturday.
Hickory Police Chief Tom Adkins was emotional Tuesday morning when he announced the change in status of the case.
Adkins said that on Monday night Zahra's stepmother, Elisa Baker, admitted to writing a ransom note that was found on the family s property and was charged with felony obstruction of justice.
Police have had trouble establishing a timeline for the case. Only Zahra s father, Adam Baker, and stepmother report having seen the girl in the past month.
Adam Baker told police he last saw his daughter Thursday night. Elisa Baker reported seeing Zahra sleeping in her bed around 2:30 a.m. Saturday.
According to the search warrant, police were called to the Baker home early Saturday morning to investigate a mulch fire and gas poured inside an SUV. Officers found a ransom note on the SUV, written to a Mr. Coffey, a man identified as Adam Baker's boss. That is the note Elisa Baker has since admitted to writing.
Adam Baker called police again hours later, to report his daughter missing.
Elisa Baker was arrested on Sunday, on charges unrelated to Zahra s disappearance. After admitting to writing the ransom note, she requested an attorney.
The search warrant, which was released on Monday, also revealed that cadaver dogs had positive hits for human remains in two vehicles at the Baker s home and that blood was recovered from the area.
On Monday police said that anything was possible in the case, but that it was unlikely Zahra had run away. As a result of her battle with bonecancer Zahra had a prosthetic lower left leg, and was hearing impaired in both ears. Police said both hearing aids were still in the home when they searched it Saturday, but the prosthetic leg was not.