Courts & Crime

Search for missing girl becomes homicide investigation

Ten-year-old Zahra Baker is shown in an undated image provided by FBI. Hickory, North Carolina
Ten-year-old Zahra Baker is shown in an undated image provided by FBI. Hickory, North Carolina Courtesy FBI via Charlotte Observer / MCT

Searchers worked under the glare of floodlights late into the night Tuesday, scouring property in Burke County for answers to the puzzling disappearance of 10-year-old Zahra Clare Baker.

Meanwhile, in Newton, the stepmother of the missing girl appeared in court to face felony charges related to the case.

The focus of what Hickory police Chief Tom Adkins calls a "homicide investigation" seems to have moved to the wooded property off Hartland Road, north of Morganton. Residents told reporters Tuesday that search dogs have picked up the scent of blood at the site.

It is unclear if the search will be resumed this morning.

Eli8sa Baker, Zahra's stepmother, appeared in court to face charges in connection with her admission she wrote a bogus ransom note.

Baker wore a pink jumpsuit and was shackled at her wrists and legs. She answered Judge Gregory Hayes with only quiet "yes" and "no" responses when asked whether she understood the charges against her, or if she had any questions for him.

Read the complete story at charlotteobserver.com

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