Missing Missouri baby’s parents make tearful plea
Thursday, October 6, 2011
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The parents of a missing 10-month-old Kansas City girl made a tearful plea for the child’s safe return Wednesday, nearly two days after she disappeared, begging her abductor to drop her off someplace safe.
Jeremy Irwin and Deborah Bradley, speaking to the media for the first time since their daughter Lisa went missing, asked the public to call police with even the smallest piece of information. The child was last seen in her crib Monday night, and police have no solid leads in the case.
“Please drop her off anywhere,” Jeremy Irwin said calmly during a brief news conference at a makeshift police command center about a half-mile from their home. “We don’t care. Somewhere safe so she can come home.”
Clutching a purple Barney doll that presumably belonged to her daughter, Bradley tearfully begged for the child’s return, saying: “We just want our baby back.” The couple promised they’d ask no questions.
The parents aren’t suspects in the case, police said.
Capt. Steve Young said investigators have no new leads despite repeated searches of nearby woods and homes — and the frustration was evident.
“Everything we’ve thought of doing we’ve probably done two or three times,” he said. “Over 300 law enforcement officers have been involved. They’ve walked a wooded area three times in shoulder-to-shoulder searches, taken dogs in three times — different dogs each time — and none of those led us anywhere.”
He said investigators also have done 300 consensual knock-and-talks, in which officers knocked on doors and asked if they could search the homes. Young said dozens of tips have come in, but many have produced nothing.
Kansas City police spokesman Darin Snapp said a report that a neighbor saw a man in the neighborhood carrying a baby overnight Tuesday “went nowhere.”
The child was last seen around 10:30 p.m. Monday when her mother checked on her in her crib. Her father discovered her missing about five hours later, when he got home from a late-night shift at work.
Police have said they are investigating the possibility someone entered the home through a front window and snatched the baby, but they have not pointed to any sign of forced entry.
Earlier Wednesday, FBI agents clad in white, plastic suits used search dogs as they went into the family’s home, a light-green ranch-style home in a cozy neighborhood along a winding street. Young said the suits were to hide the agents’ scent from the dogs so they could get original scents of the girl.
An FBI spokeswoman acknowledged the agency was committing significant resources to the search, but declined to discuss any details of the investigation.
Young said investigators interviewed the girl’s parents until about 10:30 p.m. Tuesday, but did not take them into custody.
“They were cooperative, but at this point we have next to nothing to go on,” he said.
Police said Lisa has blue eyes and blonde hair, is 30 inches tall and weighs around 28 pounds. She was last seen wearing purple shorts and a purple shirt with pictures of white kittens.
Several police cars were parked along the quiet tree-lined street Wednesday where the family’s home is located, an American flag flying in their front yard. Media trucks also were stationed nearby as children returned from school.
About a half dozen law enforcement officers appeared to be canvassing neighbors next door and across the street, coming in and out of their homes and congregating in their front yards. Police also scoured roads, a nearby apartment complex and a wooded area on at least four all-terrain vehicles.
Thelma Beagley, 77, a neighbor, stood in her driveway as detectives searched the family’s one-story home. Police also cordoned off neighboring homes with yellow caution tape.
Beagley, whose driveway was covered with children’s chalk drawings, said she would periodically see Lisa and her mother out in the yard with another neighbor who also has young children.
“Every so often they would bring little Lisa over so I could see her,” Beagley said. “She was just a typical little baby. Kind of bubbly.”
Beagley said the child’s mother and father seemed to be wonderful parents.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children was doing all it could to assist, said center president Ernie Allen.
Allen was cautiously hopeful that Lisa would be found, saying that of the 278 infant abductions nationwide over the past 28 years, only 12 of those children didn’t come home safely.
An Amber Alert was issued Tuesday morning but called off after 12 hours. Police said it was a formality because the alerts are designed to raise awareness early in an investigation.