Is she also guilty of murdering and dismembering her stepchild? The case of Elisa Baker

Elisa Baker with her stepdaughter Zahra Baker.

Elisa Baker, age 42, is the stepmother of Zahra Baker, a 10-year old Australian girl with a prosthetic leg who'd survived cancer. The girl was reported missing from her North Carolina home. About a month later, Zahra's dismembered remains were discovered, with Mrs. Baker's help. 

Elisa Baker's photo on, a social media 
site designed to help people find former acquaintances.

Elisa Baker had an uncanny ability to stay ahead of bill collectors, police, social workers and her multiple husbands, The Associated Press discovered in an investigation of the woman who led authorities to the dismembered remains of her disabled, 10-year-old stepdaughter.

Few saw her pattern because when she abandoned a relationship, she usually severed all ties. In seven years, she had no fewer than 42 different addresses. During a different three-year stretch, she was married to three men at the same time.

In interviews with three dozen people, and a review of hundreds of court and police documents, AP unraveled a life of deception described by friends, family and the vulnerable men she wed, including some with disabilities. At times, they said, she was physically abusive.

Elisa (eh-LEES'-uh) Baker is charged with obstructing the investigation of the disappearance of Zahra Baker, the freckle-faced girl who fought bone cancer, but no one has been charged in Zahra's death.

The stepmother has been the center of the investigation, though, and the details of her strained relationships and early family life help explain why.

Those who knew Elisa described an attractive high school student who became manipulative, cunning and insecure, struggling with obesity. Even as she got older and gained more weight, men were drawn to her.

At other times, she detached herself from society, immersed in the online world. There, she made herself over as E'lesa, a darkly glamorous woman whose allure reached Zahra's father, Adam Baker, an Australian who lived far from her economically depressed corner of Appalachia.

"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."

Elisa Baker's mugshot.

UPDATE: Yes, Elisa Baker did kill her stepdaughter. She was found guilty and will serve 14 - 18 years in prison.

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