North Carolina police have confirmed DNA taken from human remains found near a river bank last month match 10-year-old Australian girl Zahra Baker.
The match was made from bones found in the Dudley Shoals area of Caldwell County, a short drive from Zahra’s home in Hickory.
The announcement follows the release of horrifying details in the murder investigation from unsealed police warrants, including allegations Zahra’s Australian father, Adam Baker, helped dispose of her prosthetic leg by wrapping it in a rubbish bag and tossing it in a dumpster.
Zahra’s American stepmother, Elisa Baker, was identified as the source of many of the allegations contained in the warrants, including information such as “latex gloves were used while the body of Zahra Baker was dismembered”.
One warrant states: “It was relayed from Elisa Baker through lawyer Lisa Dubbs that a car cover and a bed comforter used to conceal and transport the body parts of Zahra Baker were thrown into the dumpster”.
In another disturbing allegation in the police warrant, a source told investigators that Zahra had been left at a house with two men who raped her. One of the men was asked if they “killed the little girl” and the man said “they might have hit her in the head”, according to the warrant.
Hickory police were alerted on October 9 that Zahra, who was born in Wagga Wagga, NSW, and had her lower left leg amputated aged five after a battle with bone cancer, was missing.
Adam Baker, who moved to the US with his daughter two years ago, has not been charged in connection with Zahra’s disappearance.
Elisa Baker has been in custody since October 10 and has been charged with obstruction of justice in relation to a fake ransom note, which police say she admitted to writing to mislead investigators.
Hickory police say they are still waiting on a DNA profile for Zahra to be created, using cheek swabs taken from Adam Baker and Zahra’s biological mother, Emily Dietrich, who visited North Carolina from Wagga Wagga last month.
The DNA match with the bones announced on Wednesday used a sample taken from personal items believed to belong to Zahra.
Police said last month they had collected enough physical evidence to believe she was dead, after confirming another bone and a prosthetic leg found dumped in bushland belonged to Zahra.