CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Searchers worked under the glare of floodlights late into the night Tuesday, scouring property in Burke County, N.C., for answers to the puzzling disappearance of 10-year-old Zahra Clare Baker.
Meanwhile, the stepmother of the missing girl appeared in court to face felony charges related to the case.
The focus of what Hickory, N.C., Police Chief Tom Adkins calls a "homicide investigation" seems to have moved to wooded property north of Morganton, N.C. Residents told reporters Tuesday that search dogs have picked up the scent of blood at the site.
Elisa Baker, Zahra's stepmother, appeared in court to face charges in connection with her admission she wrote a bogus ransom note.
Baker wore a pink jumpsuit and was shackled at her wrists and legs. She answered Judge Gregory Hayes with only quiet "yes" and "no" responses when asked whether she understood the charges against her, or if she had any questions for him.
Baker's attorney, Scott Reilly, standing next to her, told the judge he intends to ask for a reduction in her $40,000 bond in the case.
A half-dozen extra sheriff's office personnel filed into the courtroom before her appearance to ensure order. There were no disruptions.
After the hearing, Reilly said Baker is extremely upset about being held in jail and "scared to death."
He wouldn't discuss what might have happened to Zahra, saying that he only could talk about the obstruction charge.
"I'm just not at liberty to talk about that," when asked if Baker had discussed her stepdaughter with him.
Baker was charged with felony obstruction-of-justice charges after admitting to investigators Monday that she wrote a ransom note found at the family's home in Hickory on Saturday, according to Hickory police.
That ransom note, police contend, was designed to throw investigators off-track in their search for answers in the case.
In Burke County, crews used backhoes and other equipment to scour a wooded area, including a 50-foot-wide pile of mulch. It was the third time that searchers have been on the property, neighbors said.
They said searchers spent several hours at the property during the day Tuesday, then returned about 5 p.m. for another look. The mulch pile was the center of attention, but searchers also scoured nearby wooded areas.
The property is owned by Real Tree Services, where Adam Baker, Zahra's father, is employed. The company has mulching equipment on the land, and one company official told reporters that Adam Baker would have had access to the property.