The human remains found in North Carolina Wednesday were confirmed to be those of missing Australian 10-year-old Zahra Baker, WCNC-TV reported Friday, citing a source close to the investigation.
The source said police in Hickory, N.C., will hold a news conference at 4:00pm local time to announce that the remains have been identified.
Authorities released a statement Thursday that potentially valuable evidence had been discovered.
“Search teams in Caldwell County yesterday located evidence that could provide valuable information in the Zahra Baker case,” the statement said. “This evidence will be analyzed at the NC State Bureau of Investigation's lab. We understand the concern and interest in this case by the public but we must be cautious in prematurely releasing information so it will not jeopardize any future criminal proceedings.”
The search Wednesday focused on an area near Gunpowder Creek in Caldwell County, according to WCNC-TV. Authorities began ordering the media to leave the area at approximately noon local time Wednesday but did not give an explanation.
Authorities discovered a bone last week that may be connected to Zahra’s case. Police have also uncovered the girl’s prosthetic leg and removed a mattress that had belonged to Zahra from a landfill.
Zahra’s father and stepmother, Adam and Elisa Baker, reported the girl missing on Oct. 9, but police announced days later that they were investigating the disappearance as a homicide. Investigators, who have said Zahra was last seen on Sept. 25, have used cadaver dogs to search her family’s car and home.
Elisa Baker was arrested on unrelated charges after reporting the girl’s disappearance. She later admitted to writing a $1 million ransom note in connection with the case and was charged with obstruction of justice.
Adam Baker was later arrested on charges of writing bad checks.
Zahra was born in Australia but moved to the US after Adam Baker met the woman who would become her stepmother on the internet two years ago. Zahra suffered from hearing loss and had her lower leg amputated due to two bouts with cancer.