By Jeff Rivenbark - email
HICKORY, NC (WBTV) - A police search warrant, which lists items removed from the home of a 10-year-old Hickory girl who is still missing, sheds new details on the case.
When Zahra Claire Baker was reported missing by her father, Adam Baker, Saturday afternoon, officials activated an AMBER alert. After questioning the child's stepmother, Elise Baker, Monday night, police called off the AMBER alert on Tuesday saying the case was now a homicide investigation.
Full Coverage: The Search for Zahra
A search warrant was executed on Sunday, Oct. 10, by the Hickory Police Department at the child's home on 21st Avenue Northwest in Hickory.
According to the warrant, the Hickory Police Department was requested by the Hickory Fire Department to respond to a small grass fire at the home on Saturday, Oct. 9 around 5:20 a.m.
When Officer R. Rollins arrived at the home, he was approached by a Hickory firefighter who said there was a fire on a mulch pile behind the home.
Firemen also told Rollins the passenger side doors of a silver 1996 Chevrolet Tahoe that was parked outside the home were open. A Duke Power envelope with handwriting was inside the vehicle on the front windshield.
Officer Rollins reports in the search warrant that he smelled gasoline emitting from inside the vehicle when he approached.
The Duke Power envelope had the following message: "Mr. Coffey, you like being in control now who is in control we have your daughter and your pot smoking red head son is next unless you do what is asked 1,000,000 unmarked will be in touch soon." The note also had written at the top and bottom, "no cops."
Rollins saw Mark Coffey and his only daughter, Lauren Coffey, at the home around 5:30 a.m. Rollins said she was not harmed in any way. WBTV has learned Adam Baker was renting the home from Mark Coffey, who is also Baker's boss.
Rollins and the firefighters left the home around 6:41 a.m. after investigating the small grass fire. They believed it to be an arson, the warrant stated.
Around 2 p.m., the police department received a call from Adam Baker stating that someone had poured gas into his car and left a note stating that they had his bosses' daughter. Baker told police he thought a kidnapper took his daughter, Zahra Baker.
An officer went to the home and searched the house with assistance from Adam and Elisa Baker.
On Sunday, Maria Claxton with the South Carolina Search and Rescue Dog Association was called to the home at the request of police and the FBI.
Claxton walked the dog around the Bakers' home and their vehicles. The warrant states that around 1 p.m., the canine "gave a positive alert for the presence of human remains in or on both vehicles, the silver in color Chevrolet Tahoe... and the burgundy in color Toyota Camry..."
The vehicles were taken to the Hickory Police Department where agents with the North Carolina SBI and FBI assisted police officers in gathering evidence.
According to the search warrant, the items removed from the Chevrolet Tahoe and Toyota Camry include: Duke Power bill, numerous papers with writings and phone numbers, assorted receipts, (3) passports with paperwork, (2) toothbrushes, hair brush, assorted ink pens, (2) lighters, (2) pillows, sheet, comforter, (3) gas cans, (4) burnt samples from Tahoe and brush pile, pink jacket, plastic bowl with green vegg. matter, assorted drug paraphernalia, Chinese take-out menu, 1990 Burgundy Toyota Camry, latent lift, photos, and Chevy Tahoe.
In addition to taking photographs of both vehicles, three swabs of a substance which police said appeared to be blood were also taken from the Chevrolet Tahoe.
On Sunday, police charged Elisa Baker with various unrelated offenses. She was taken to the Catawba County Jail. On Monday, police charged her with felony obstruction of justice after they say she admitted to writing the ransom note.
Neither she nor Adam Baker have been charged with Zahra's disappearance at this time.
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