HICKORY, N.C. (CBS/AP) New leads in the case of missing 10-year-old girl, Zahra Baker, indicate it is unlikely the hearing impaired child was abducted by a stranger, police said Sunday, and her father says "it could be possible" that his wife was involved.
Zahra's stepmother, Elisa Baker, who is reportedly the last person to see Zahra, was arrested early Sunday on "unrelated charges."
Zahra, who has a prosthetic leg and was previously treated for bone cancer, was reported missing by her father, Adam Baker, Saturday afternoon, just a few hours after a brush fire was reported in family's backyard. Adam Baker said his wife told him she last saw Zahra asleep in her bed around 2:30 a.m. The blaze was reported around 5 a.m., and Adam Baker said he was in such a state of panic after the fire that he didn't check on his daughter, until hours later.
"Although nothing is being ruled out at this point, there have been details that have surfaced in the past 12 hours indicating that a stranger abduction is less likely than once anticipated," Hickory Police Chief Tom Adkins told reporters during a press conference Monday.
Adkins said that Zahra needed hearing aids in both ears - the hearing aids were left at the scene, leading investigators to doubt she ran away.
The FBI has been brought in to aid in the investigation and police are seeking surveillance videos from nearby businesses and are using dogs to search the Hickory, N.C. neighborhood, about 55 miles north of Charlotte. Adkins said investigators have not ruled out any suspect including Adam Baker and his wife.
Adam Baker was asked if he thought his wife was involved and said, "I wouldn't like to think so. On what I've heard so far, it could be possible."
Elisa Baker was arrested Sunday on charges including communicating threats, writing worthless checks, larceny and driving with a revoked license.
Former neighbors who say they became close to the Bakers when they lived in nearby Sawmill, said they grew suspicious of Elisa Baker because of her far-fetched stories and quick temper. She once told them that she wrote songs for American Idol finalist Chris Daughtry, among other tall tales, according to Kayla Rotenberry.
We knew they were lies," said, Rotenberry, 23. "She wasn't as nice as she seemed."
Adkins said investigators are also looking to talk with Zahra's former teachers to further understand what her life was like prior to her disappearance.
Zahra is described as white, about 5 feet 1 inches tall and weighing 85 pounds, with brown hair and blue eyes. She was wearing a camouflage Army T-shirt and black knee-length tights, and she has a prosthetic left leg below the knee.
Anyone with information about Zahra's whereabouts is asked to call the Hickory Police Department at 828-328-5551 or call 911 or *HP.