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Stepmother of missing North Carolina girl joins police on search

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Zahra's stepmom taken to search
  • NEW: The arrested stepmother of a missing 10-year-old joins police on search
  • Police said that Elisa Baker had earlier admitted to writing a fake ransom note
  • The missing girl's father was arrested before dawn Monday on unrelated charges
  • As they look for Zahra Baker, authorities have launched a homicide investigation

Read local coverage of the case from CNN affiliate WSOC.

(CNN) -- The stepmother of a missing 10-year-old North Carolina girl joined police as they searched for the girl's body Monday, the same day the girl's father landed behind bars.

Elisa Baker, who police said last week admitted to writing a fake ransom note a day after the girl's disappearance was reported, was taken by police to a search site near a home she lived in three years ago, according to CNN affiliate WSOC.

Earlier on Monday, shortly after 3 a.m., Adam Troy Baker was arrested in Catawba County on eight charges, including five counts of submitting worthless checks and three counts of failing to appear in court.

Police earlier acknowledged that Adam Baker faced bad-check charges, which are unrelated to the disappearance of his daughter, Zahra Clare Baker. But they did not initially arrest him, as he had been helping authorities in their search.

Zahra was reported missing October 9. But no one other than a family member has reported seeing her since September 25, when a woman saw her at a furniture store.

Elisa Baker was arrested on October 10, initially on several charged unrelated charges, including writing worthless checks. Last week, she was additionally charged with obstruction of justice -- a felony -- after leaving the ransom note at the family's home.

Video: Police release 911 call in Baker case

Authorities on Friday ended an unsuccessful search at a North Carolina landfill for a mattress connected to Zahra's disappearance, said police in Hickory.

The adolescent's disappearance is being investigated as a homicide, police said. Local, state and federal authorities, along with cadaver dogs, are continuing to search Caldwell County and thereabouts for signs of Zahra.

Zahra's father, Adam Troy Baker, was at Charlotte-Douglas International Airport picking up a family member Sunday before he voluntarily went to the police department in Hickory, about 60 miles northwest of Charlotte, to talk to authorities.

At the request of Adam Baker -- an Australian citizen -- the closest Australian consulate, in Atlanta, Georgia, was notified of his arrest.

The disappearance of Zahra, a freckle-faced youngster who wears a prosthetic leg and hearing aids, has made international news. The girl lost her leg to bone cancer, according to CNN affiliate WCNC-TV in Charlotte.

Family members and neighbors have told reporters that Zahra's stepmother abused her -- an allegation her attorney has denied.

Police also have said they had been in contact with Zahra's biological mother in Australia and asked for the girl's medical records.