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NEWTON, NC (WBTV) – The father and step-mother of Zahra Baker were both scheduled to face a judge Friday morning but their cases were continued to a future date.
Elisa Baker was supposed to be arraigned on bigamy charges in which we learned about on Tuesday. Officials say she married Adam Baker in the summer of 2008 while she was still married to a Caldwell County man. (See the related divorce paperwork here)
She was scheduled to be arraigned in District Court in Newton. Baker, 42, is currently being held in the Caldwell County Jail on charges of obstructing the investigation into her stepdaughter's disappearance last fall.
Adam Baker was also due in a separate Newton courtroom on charges of writing worthless checks.
Neither the couple or any other person has been charged directly with Zahra's death at this time.
The logger found the briefcase on Christie Road in Caldwell County. Authorities said it appeared to have been in the woods for a long time. A source told WBTV the briefcase contained a blanket, possibly stained by blood or some other dark substance.
The briefcase was found deep in the woods beyond the area that was previously searched by investigators in November.
It was across the road from where Zahra's prosthetic leg and bone were found last fall, and about a hundred yards from a concrete memorial marker put up by the owner of the land in memory of the little girl.
The briefcase and its contents were sent to the SBI lab in Raleigh to be analyzed. Until the results come back, investigators will not know for sure if the items relate to the case.
Elisa Baker, who has been married at least three times, had her divorce finalized in August 21, 2009, according to Caldwell County court records obtained by WBTV. That marriage began in 1998, according to the documents. (Read the previous story about the marriages)
Adam Baker, 33, brought Zahra with him when he moved to the United States from Australia after meeting Elisa Baker on a website called IMVU, a social network and 3D virtual world where people create characters of themselves.
A conviction on bigamy charges rarely results in jail time, said officials but could change the way any future cases involving Elisa Baker are prosecuted. Under North Carolina law, husbands cannot testify about private conversations with their wives and vice versa unless both parties agree to allow it. That spousal privilege can hinder some cases, said an official who did not want to be named.
While conversations are protected, a spouse can be compelled to testify to what they may have seen the other spouse do. As to whether a bigamy conviction could make the marriage null and void and eliminate any argument of spousal privilege, officials say that would be a matter for the courts to decide.
Adam Baker reported his daughter missing on the afternoon of October 9, 2010. He also reported a ransom note found on a vehicle in their yard as well as gasoline that was poured in a truck.
Earlier that day, Adam and Elisa Baker reported a fire in the mulch near their home in Hickory.
In the weeks following her disappearance, we learned that Zahra was last seen by someone other than her parents on September 25 at a furniture store. At the time, Zahra was with her stepmother.
In the 911 call on October 9, Adam Baker suggested that kidnappers took his daughter as well as her prosthetic leg. Zahra suffered cancer as a child which left her without one of her legs and the disease also affected her hearing.
The Hickory Police Chief held a press conference on October 12 in which he announced the Amber Alert for Zahra had been canceled and he fought back tears saying the case was now a homicide investigation.
The same day, Elisa Baker was charged with obstruction of justice. Police said she admitted to writing the ransom note to distract police officers who came to the Bakers' home to search for Zahra.
On October 15, search crews removed a bed frame and mattress from the Bakers' old apartment in Caldwell County. Managers of the apartment complex said they believed the young girl was kept in attic and that they found signs of struggle in closet.
On October 24, Elisa Baker accompanied investigators to at least one location close to her former home in Hudson, NC, as they searched for Zahra.
The next day, Baker was taken in a SUV with detectives to a location off Dudley Shoals Road and Christie Road near the Baker's former home in Caldwell County.
On October 26, workers at Caldwell County landfill unearthed a mattress fitting the description of Zahra Baker's and it was sent to a lab for DNA testing.
The Hickory Police Department said they found Zahra's prosthetic leg on October 27. It was found at the Christie Road site where Elisa Baker went with investigators on October 25.
A bone was found on November 3 during a search along Christie Road in Caldwell County. It was also sent to the state lab to be analyzed.
The media was finally allowed inside the Baker's home in Hickory on November 5. (Related story). Clothes were hanging in Zahra's closet, but investigators had torn up the floor, walls and ceiling looking for evidence.
On November 10, police found possible human remains along the banks of Little River off Dudley Shoals Road in Caldwell County.
Soon after, a public vigil was held in downtown Hickory on what would have been Zahra's 11th birthday.
In early January, more search warrants were released in the case which revealed that Adam and Elisa Baker had taken part in Internet games at a website called IMVU.com involving virtual chainsaw massacres. (Click to read related story.) (Click to read warrants 1-10, 11-20 and 21-28.)
Court documents say Zahra's father and stepmother both had IMVU accounts. Those documents also said the Bakers had a virtual family who created a chainsaw massacre on the computer September 22nd. Zahra was last seen alive on September 24th.