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Zahra Baker Update: Elisa Baker, Slain N.C. Girl's Stepmother, Has Troubled Past

Zahra Claire Baker (AP Photo/Independent Tribune, file)

Zahra Baker Update: Elisa Baker, Slain N.C. Girl's Stepmother, Has Troubled Past, Multiple Ex-Husbands
Zahra Clare Baker (AP Photo/Independent Tribune, file)

(CBS/AP) The stepmother of Zahra Baker, the 10-year-old North Carolina girl whose body was found dismembered and scattered in Caldwell County, spent much of her adult life evading police, social workers, bill collectors, landlords, and her multiple husbands.

PICTURES: Zahra Baker Missing

However, those who crossed Elisa Baker's path were unable to see the pattern of destructive and manipulative behavior because when she abandoned a relationship, she usually severed all ties.

After interviewing three dozen people, and reviewing hundreds of court and police documents, The Associated Press was able to connect the dots from address to address and husband to husband.

"This is a woman who thought she could talk her way out of anything, that she was smarter than everybody else. But she never told the truth," said Andrew Harris Jr., her third husband. "She hurt a lot of people."

Born Elisa Fairchild, she grew up in a relatively normal western North Carolina household. She had two sisters and was described as popular during her high school days.

Before Baker had even turned 18-years-old, she met, married, and dismissed her first husband.

From there she entered into several other rocky marriages with men, some who had disabilities, and which also ended in divorce and betrayal.

Margie Putnam, the mother of one Baker's former husbands who was partially deaf, described her as "pure evil."

In early 2008, Baker headed to Australia and left in her wake a stack of eviction notices, small claims judgments, and liens against her from her landlords, utility companies and other bill collectors.

Elisa and Adam Baker were married shortly after her arrival and headed back to the United States with Zahra in tow later that year.

A majority of those Baker came into contact with - her reported six husbands, friends, and family - can recall numerous occasions when she was abusive towards not only them, but also her children, including Zahra.

"She was always looking for attention," said Jeffrey Allred, her fifth husband. "She always wanted to be known, to be famous. Well, I guess she got what she was looking for after all."

Elisa Baker is charged with obstructing the investigation into the disappearance of Zahra Baker, but has denied any further wrongdoing.

Zahra was reported missing on Oct. 9 by her father Adam Baker who has also not been ruled out as a suspect, according to police.

COMPLETE COVERAGE OF THE ZAHRA BAKER CASE ON CRIMESIDER

  • Caroline Black

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