Police in the United States have begun a homicide investigation after the disappearance of a 10-year-old disabled Australian girl who had been living in North Carolina.
Zahra Baker, who lost a leg to bone cancer and is hearing impaired, moved to the US with her father when he married an American woman, Elisa Baker.
The ABC says the girl was reported missing from the town of Hickory during the weekend and the police say they found a ransom note demanding $US1 million.
The police say no-one outside her immediate family has reported seeing her in weeks, and they have no idea how long she has really been missing.
Local journalist Richard Gould says police told a news conference the girl's stepmother had confessed to writing a ransom note.