When the Baker family first moved into the apartments on Congress Street in July 2009, Shirley Mims had been the manager for only a short time.
It didn’t take her long to become better acquainted with Elisa and Adam Baker, who were in the apartment next door to Shirley and her husband, Darrell.
“They fought verbally and physically with each other. You could hear it through the walls,” Shirley said. “They’d even take it out into the parking lot.”
It was so bad one time that it knocked the pictures off the wall the Mims shared with the Bakers, Shirley said.
She said the couple began fighting about three weeks after they moved into the apartment.
As for the now-missing Zahra Clare Baker, Shirley didn’t even know the couple had a daughter.
“We saw the little girl when they moved in, but we didn’t see her no more after that,” she said.
“When I saw the little girl, I assumed it was a grandchild or a visitor, because I never saw her again.” [...]
[...] The Bakers lived in the apartment on Congress Street until early November 2009, when Shirley asked them to move out because of their fighting.
“In one-and-a-half days, they were gone,” Shirley said. “I got the impression they didn’t want the police here.”
When Shirley and Darrell went into the Bakers’ apartment after they left, they were surprised by what they found. One of the doors to a closet had been removed.
That closet provides access to the attic — an attic where you can’t store anything, it just contains blown insulation for the two-story apartments.
When the Mims were watching the news this week, they recognized their former tenants. They were also surprised to learn they had a daughter.
They’re now wondering if maybe Zahra was in the attic
“We don’t know for sure, but we think they kept her in the attic,” Darrell said.
“There were black shoe sole prints all around the inside (of the door frame). The door to the cubby hole was taken off.”
The Mims still haven’t found the door to the closet, and aren’t sure what the Bakers did with it.
Darrell said for several months — during the time the Bakers lived next door — it sounded as if squirrels were in the attic.
“All the noises I heard in the attic must have been her, but I never heard them again after they left,” Shirley said. “I can’t prove that’s what it was, but in my heart, that’s what I believe.”
When Darrell went up to the attic to look, he saw a section of the firewall that divides the two apartments was pulled down and was on top some of the boards and insulation. It was cracked in a few places.
“It looked as though a child had gone to sleep on it,” Darrell said.[...]