Investigators drained a pond and used a dog to sniff through piles of mulch and tree-trimming equipment searching for the remains of a 10-year-old as neighbors and friends who had feared for her safety used a vigil to encourage people to report child abuse.
Zahra Clare Baker, who used hearing aids and a prosthetic leg because of bone cancer, was reported missing over the weekend by her father and stepmother. But police said they think she is dead and that they don't believe the couple's story about the last time she was seen in her bed in Hickory.
Her stepmother, Elisa Baker, is jailed, accused of trying to throw off investigators with a fake ransom note. She also faces charged unrelated to the case.
She showed little emotion as she faced a judge over an obstruction charge that could bring her up to 30 months in prison if convicted. Her court-appointed attorney, Scott Reilly, said she was "scared to death" and very emotional about everything.
"She's upset about being held in jail. She's upset about being away from her family," he said.