HICKORY, N.C. (CBS/AP) A week after 10-year-old Zahra Baker was reported missing on Oct. 9, police say they have been able to narrow the uncertain timeline that has hindered their search for her.
Hickory, North Carolina police said Saturday that they received information from a member of the community that the child was seen in public as recently as two weeks before she was reported missing.
Prior to this revelation, investigators, who were wary of the story they had been told by Zahra's father and stepmother, said they could not find anyone outside of the girl's immediate household who had seen her alive in more than a month.
Police said in the recent news release that Zahra, who was forced to wear hearing aids and a prosthetic leg as a result of bone cancer, was seen in public on Sept. 25.
On that day, Zahra and her stepmother visited a furniture store in Hickory. The store's manager, Pat Adams, went to police after seeing the girl's picture on the news and recalling the visit.
"They had come in and the little girl, Zahra, was standing in the aisleway at a children's room and we have cartoons playing in there. And she was just standing there in the middle of the aisle looking into the TV room, watching the cartoon," Adams said. "As I walked past her, I put my hand on her shoulder and said 'Excuse me, sweetheart,' and she looked up at me and smiled."
Adams said she didn't observe any interaction between the girl and her stepmother, but that others heard the woman call her by name and say it was time to leave.
"She was clean, she was dressed neatly, and she seemed like any other happy little girl," Adams said.
The girl's stepmother, 42-year-old Elise Baker, is currently being held for obstruction of justice in the case after she admitted to writing a ransom note found in the family's backyard the day the girl was reported missing.
Hickory police have repeatedly searched the Baker's house and property, and have found no evidence linking the girl's father, Adam Baker, to her disappearance.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Hickory Police Department at 828-328-5551.