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Mo. parents describe panic after baby disappeared

By MARIA SUDEKUM FISHER and BILL DRAPER

Associated Press

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The parents of a 10-month-old girl who was apparently snatched from her crib said Thursday that they frantically searched their Kansas City home for any sign of her but found only an open window, an unlocked front door and house lights blazing.

Whoever took Lisa Irwin also stole the family’s three cellphones, including one that doesn’t work, Jeremy Irwin and Deborah Bradley said during a tearful news conference as investigators searched nearby woods. Hundreds of law enforcement officers are looking for the baby, who disappeared sometime Monday night or early Tuesday, but they have no solid leads.

Irwin said he knew immediately that something was wrong when he returned home from work about 4 a.m. Tuesday. He checked on his 6-year-old and 8-year-old sons, then went to Lisa’s room and discovered her gone.

“I said, ‘What do you mean she is not in her crib?”’ said Bradley, who had checked on her daughter about five hours earlier. “I just knew, you know, that something was really wrong. We ran around the house and screaming for her, but she was nowhere.”

Bradley said that’s when they discovered the phones had been taken, guessing it was to delay them from calling police. As she hugged her crying sons, Bradley said, Irwin checked outside and eventually contacted police.

The couple didn’t check to see if anything else had been taken, she said.

“I didn’t care about any of that,” Bradley said. “I still don’t.”

She added later: “All I can think of is that maybe somebody wanted a baby.”

Later Thursday, the parents mistakenly thought police had a lead in the case when investigators began looking in another wooded area and they immediately rushed to the command post police set up about a mile from the home, police Capt. Steve Young said.

“They assumed we had a big break and they wanted to find out what it was,” Young said. “If you’re the mother of a missing child and you think there’s a development, I would think you’d want to go to the command post and find out.”

Family members said the parents are thinking more clearly about possible suspects and people with whom they may have come in recent contact, and gave police about a dozen names. Young said he wasn’t aware of those conversations but said they would be typical is such cases.

“They’re probably jogging their brains to think of any person that they maybe haven’t told us about,” he said.

Police have said the parents aren’t suspects in Lisa’s disappearance.

Investigators extended their search Thursday, with about 100 hundred officers scouring an industrial park and adjacent woods in the morning. Others searched sewers, lifting drain covers and looking inside.

Randy Thurston, a warehouse manager, said officers also went through the industrial park Tuesday, searching trash bins and pipes, but that Thursday’s search was “much more intense over here today.”

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.

Investigators have no suspects and few solid leads despite an intensive search that has included federal agents with search dogs scouring the family’s home and nearby woods. About 300 law officers have been using helicopters, all-terrain vehicles and door-to-door interviews to look for the baby.

Police have said one possibility they were investigating was whether someone entered the home through a front window and snatched the baby, but they haven’t pointed to any sign of forced entry.

Irwin said the abduction has been especially hard on the boys, who constantly ask if their sister has been found.

“We tell them, ‘Not yet, not yet,”’ Irwin said. “It’s the only thing we can think to tell them.”

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Associated Press writer Heather Hollingsworth in Kansas City contributed to this report.

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