HICKORY, N.C. (CBS/WBTV) Police have released two key pieces of information in the Zahra Clare Baker case late Tuesday afternoon - confirmation that the missing girl's stepmother started cooperating with police and that crews Tuesday found a mattress similar to Zahra's in a landfill.
Sources say that the jailed stepmother has been cooperating with authorities since Sunday. Elisa Baker spoke with investigators after her lawyer approached police offering her help, said Maj. Clyde Deal, deputy police chief in Hickory where the child was reported missing Oct. 9.
Meanwhile on Tuesday afternoon, a mattress fitting the description of Zahra's was found in a landfill that was searched for 4 days last week. DNA was found on the mattress, police said.
According to CBS affiliate WBTV, police believe the girl is dead. She uses hearing aids and has a prosthetic leg because of bone cancer. Authorities in recent weeks have combed wooded areas and a landfill for evidence or her body.
Deal said Tuesday that Elisa Baker, 42, was taken earlier this week to a home where she once lived.
"We're working with her attorney to see what information she has and what she is willing to share. We're treating her like every other source of information," he told The Associated Press.
The mattress discovery was made late Tuesday afternoon by employees as they were regrading the landfill in the area that had been searched last week, Hickory police said.
"This mattress possessed DNA evidence that will be tested in the future to confirm if it is involved with this investigation," Hickory police said in a statement obtained by WBTV.
The stepmother has been charged with obstruction of justice. Police said she acknowledged writing a bogus ransom note found at the scene of a fire in the family's back yard on the day Zahra was reported missing.
The girl's father, Adam Baker, was arrested Monday on unrelated charges. He and his daughter are from Australia, and moved to North Carolina in 2008 after he married Elisa Baker, whom he had met on the Internet.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Hickory Police Department at 828-328-5551.