Dec 2, 2010

Sex assault claim in Zahra case, Elisa and Adam Baker dumped leg

MURDERED Australian girl Zahra Baker may have been raped by associates of her stepmother in North Carolina before she was killed and dismembered, according to court documents.

The 10-year-old's body may have also been hidden in a comforter from a bed before being placed in a skip behind a grocers, the documents cited by The Charlotte Observer reveal.

The information was contained in search warrants issued in connection with the case that were unsealed by a judge today in the US state of North Carolina, WCNC-TV reported.

In one warrant, a source told police they had information that two men raped Zahra - and when asked if those same men killed her, the source said: "They might have hit her in the head," The Charlotte Observer reported.

It was claimed one of the men had a relationship with Elisa Baker, Zahra's stepmother.

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Elisa Baker, 42, who met Zahra's father Adam Baker on the internet and married him two years ago, is in jail on an obstruction of justice charge for allegedly confessing to writing a fake ransom note for $1 million following Zahra's disappearance in early October.

Zahra's body was discovered on November 12.

The documents released today also revealed Elisa Baker's lawyer Lisa Dubs told police that remains might be found in the bathtub of the home where the Baker family lived in Hickory, North Carolina, 93km northwest of Charlotte.

When police searched the home they removed drain pipes and traps looking for blood, along with sections of a wall.

A mattress with a dark stain on it was recovered from the home, while Elisa Baker told police she and Adam Baker had discarded another mattress at a dump in Granite Falls.

Through her lawyer, Elisa Baker told investigators that she and her husband had wrapped Zahra's prosthetic leg in a rubbish bag and thrown it in a bin at their home.

Zahra - a two-time cancer survivor who wore a prosthetic leg and was hearing-impaired - moved from Australia to the US with her father, from Queensland, after he began his relationship with Elisa Baker.

Zahra was reported missing by her father from their home on October 9.

Elisa Baker previously provided information to police as to where they should direct their search for Zahra.

Zahra's prosthetic leg was recovered at the first site and later a bone, identified as belonging to Zahra, was recovered.

According to WCNC-TV, Elisa Baker submitted to a lie detector test and her answers were described as "deceptive." She was specifically asked if she had harmed Zahra or knew if anyone else did.

Meanwhile, a memorial for Zahra that was to be held on Thursday local time has been rescheduled to a later date, The Hickory Record reported.

The family asked that the date remain private.It was also revealed her dismembered body was concealed in a bed comforter and car cover, and discarded in a skip behind a grocers, according to court documents released overnight.

The Charlotte Observer says the documents also show:

- Elisa Baker's lawyer, Lisa Dubs, told an investigator that latex gloves were used while Zahra's body was dismembered. Ms Dubs also said investigators might find remains in the bathtub drain.

- Through her lawyer, Elisa Baker said she and her husband Adam Baker - Zahra's father - dumped a mattress and box springs at a rubbish tip in Granite Falls.

- Elisa Baker directed investigators to the Fox Ridge apartments in Hickory. Through her lawyer, she admitted that she and Adam Baker wrapped Zahra's prosthetic leg in a white trash bag and threw it in the apartment skip.

- On October 10, a dog trained in recovery of bodies gave a positive alert for the presence of human remains in or on two vehicles at the Baker home in Hickory.