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There is bad news this morning in Hickory, North Carolina. According to police chief Tom Adkins, 10 year-old Zahra Clare Baker is presumed dead and the case is now a homicide investigation. Zahra Baker has been missing and authorities had issued an Amber Alert. However, her stepmother, Elisa Baker, has admitted to writing a ransom note that was left on one of the Baker's cars. The Amber Alert has now been cancelled.
Elisa Baker is now facing felony obstruction of justice. Obstruction of justice exists when one interferes with the work of police, investigators, prosecutors, or other government officials. Charges are most commonly brought when police determine that a person questioned in an investigation lied to the investigators.
Zahra Baker, who lost a leg in a battle with cancer, was first reported missing Saturday. Since then, police have not come up with any significant leads. However, dogs detected human remains in cars belonging to Zahra's parents. Police say they have doubts about the parents' version of the timeline going back a month, which prompted the homicide investigation.
According to ABC, police are looking into claims by relatives and neighbors that Zahra Baker was physically abused by her stepmother. "Elisa would get mad, she would take it out on Zahra, things the kid didn't deserve," Brittany Bentley said on CBS's Early Show. "She just had a horrible home life."
The story only gets more twisted from there. Kayla Rotenberry, who lived next to the Bakers for about a year, said that Elisa Baker would force Zahra to walk on her prosthetic leg for long distances. She would threaten punishment if Zahra slowed down. In addition, the items that police have seized from the house are rather ominous. Gas cans, burn samples form the morning fire, drug paraphernalia and possible blood samples. The Associated Press also revealed that Elisa Baker has been previously arrested for larceny, writing bad checks, making threats and driving with a revoked driver's license.
The situation certainly sound bleak, but here's hoping that Zahra is found alive.