NEWTON, N.C. — Ten-year-old Zahra Baker may have been raped before she was killed, according to court documents released Tuesday.
The records don't reveal how Zahra died or why no one has been charged in the girl's death.
But one document says a source told police that two men — at least one acquainted with Zahra's stepmother — may have hit her in the head. The documents also say police were told that Zahra's body was dismembered, placed in trash bags and discarded.
The records represent the most detailed account to date of what happened to the Hickory, N.C., girl, whose disappearance has captured worldwide attention for weeks.
Documents provide a grisly narrative from her stepmother, Elisa Baker, describing what was done with Zahra's body after she died.
Since Zahra was reported missing Oct. 9, speculation has focused on what role, if any, Elisa Baker and the girl's father, Adam Baker, might have played in the girl's fate.
Both Adam and Elisa Baker have denied any wrongdoing in the case, and no one has been charged in her death.
The documents released Tuesday disclose that an unnamed source told police that two men — at least one of whom was acquainted with Elisa Baker — had raped Zahra. In a written statement, the source said one of the men said "he had done something very bad and needed to leave town."
The source said Zahra at some point had been at a beige block house in Burke County with two men. The source says Elisa Baker saw Zahra with blood on her lower body, and the men had "raped her," the statement says.
The source, who got his information from talking to others, said he asked if the men at the house had killed Zahra, and he was told "they might have hit her in the head," one document says.
Police went to the house where the men were living and spoke to one of them. He acknowledged that he knew Zahra Baker but didn't think she had ever been to his house, one document says. He agreed to accompany investigators to the police department to be interviewed.
The details are contained in search warrants that remained secret until Superior Court Judge Nathaniel Poovey ordered them unsealed Tuesday. Poovey's ruling came in response to the Observer and other media outlets that requested access to the warrants, which are public records.
Prosecutors had sought to keep the documents from public view, saying disclosure could undermine the ongoing investigation or jeopardize the right of defendants to receive a fair trial.
But in a hearing Tuesday, Poovey denied a request to stay his ruling to unseal the documents.
Among the details contained in the documents:
Elisa Baker's attorney, Lisa Dubs, told an investigator that latex gloves were used while Zahra's body was dismembered. Dubs also said investigators might find remains in the bathtub drain at the Baker's Hickory home.
Through her attorney, Elisa Baker said she and Adam Baker dumped a mattress and box springs that belonged to Zahra at a trash dump in Granite Falls.
Elisa Baker directed investigators to the Fox Ridge apartments in Hickory. Through her attorney, she admitted that she and Adam Baker wrapped Zahra's prosthetic leg in a white trash bag and threw it in the apartment dumpster.
On Oct. 10, a dog trained in recovery of bodies gave a positive alert for the presence of human remains in or on two vehicles described by police as belonging to the family.
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