Oct. 16, 2010— -- Police searching for a missing 10-year-old North Carolina girl said today that Zahra Baker was seen three weeks ago, nearly two weeks after the previous confirmed public sighting of the child.
A statement released by the Hickory, N.C., Police Department only said that Zahra, who was reported missing on Oct. 9, was seen in public on Sept. 25, but a furniture store manager told reporters that the girl was there with her stepmother.
Police had put out a request for anyone who had seen little Zahra, whose bone cancer left her with hearing aids and a prosthetic leg, any time over the past month to come forward.
They have said that not knowing where the girl had been before her disappearance has made it more difficult to narrow where they should search for the her, because investigators have said they don't believe the story given by her father and stepmother.
On the date given by police today, Zahra and her stepmother, Elisa Baker, visited a Hickory furniture store, Pat Adams, the store's manager told a local television station and The Associated Press.
"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 told the AP. "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 told the AP that other employees were talking about the little girl's prosthetic leg.
"We were just wondering what had happened," said Adams, whose account was first reported by WCNC-TV in Charlotte.