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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - The family of a Hickory girl who has been missing for three days spoke out on the CBS Early Show Tuesday morning just hours before police called off the AMBER alert and announced the case was shifting to a homicide investigation.
The Hickory Police Department isn't sure how long 10-year-old Zahra Claire Baker has been missing.
On Monday, police said investigators found a ransom note at the home which said: "We have your daughter and your son is next. Unless you do what is asked. $1,000,000 in unmarked bills. Will be in touch soon."
During a media briefing Tuesday morning, Hickory Police Chief Tom Adkins said the girl's stepmother, Elisa Annette Baker, 42, was interviewed, again, Monday night.
Adkins said Elisa Baker admitted to writing the ransom note, and then told police she wanted an attorney. Police charged her with obstruction of justice.
Adkins said no one other than Zahra's immediate family have seen her in the last month and investigators are unable to confirm exactly when the girl went missing.
Police say Zahra's father, Adam Baker, called police on Saturday around 2 p.m. to report that his daughter was missing. He told police his wife last saw Zahra around 2:30 a.m. on Saturday.
This weekend, police said Elisa Baker was a "person of interest" in the case and she was jailed Sunday on several charges unrelated charges.
Zahra is a bone cancer survivor. She has hearing aids and a prosthetic leg.
The search warrant also reveals police dogs detected the scent of human remains on two of the Bakers' cars. There was also a fire reported on the day Zahra went missing.
Two of Zahra's relatives were interviewed by CBS Early Show anchor Maggie Rodriquez Tuesday morning. Brittany Bentley is married to Zahra's stepmother's nephew, and Brittany's mother, is Kim Drum.
"I think Lisa had something to do with it," said Bentley.
Rodriquez asked, "What makes you think Lisa would harm Zahra?"
"Just from the times I went over there," Bentley said. "The environment she lived in. She was locked in her room and only allowed out to eat. That was it. She was beaten almost every time I was there for just the smallest things. If Lisa ever got mad, she would take it out on Zahra for things the kid didn't deserve. She just had a horrible home life. One time, I remember, she had a black eye. She [Zahra] said it was from the door, but we all knew it was from Lisa. I never saw Adam spank her or punish her--do anything. But he would sit there and watch Lisa do it to his child. He would just sit there and not say, do anything. Her [Elisa Baker] daughter actually reported to DSS and they came. I don't know how much was done."
Rodriquez asked, "Do you believe it was just a random kidnapping?"
Drum replied, "No, I knew it from the moment my father called and told me. This is Lisa."
"When Zahra stayed with us, and she stayed with us a lot, an hour before she would go to bed, when she put her pajamas on, she would take off her leg," Bentley said. "It was, it was just routine for her. She never ever went to bed with her leg on."
Rodriquez asked how Zahra handled her disabilities.
"She was a happy child," Bentley said. "She could walk faster on her leg than we could walk on two legs. She was an amazing child. She was never angry or depressed. She was always happy, loving."
Bentley said the only time Zahra acted up was when it was time for her to leave.
"Only time I ever saw any anger in her is when she would come stay with us on the weekends," Bentley said. "When it was time for her to leave, she would just get mad. ‘I hate you, I hate you.' And I just want to understand why because she didn't want to go home because her home life was miserable."
If you know anything about this case, call the Hickory Police Department at 828-328-5551, 911 or *HP.