Mo. parents describe panic after baby disappeared
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 either late Monday night or early Tuesday also stole the couple's three cellphones — including one that doesn't work, Jeremy Irwin and Deborah Bradley said during a tearful news conference.
Irwin said he knew immediately that something was wrong when he returned home from work about 4 a.m. Tuesday. He first checked on his 6- and 8-year old sons and then went to Lisa's room and discovered her gone.
"I said, 'What do you mean she is not in her crib?'" Bradley said. "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 — apparently to delay them from calling police. As she hugged her crying sons, Irwin checked outside and eventually contacted police.
The couple didn't check to see if anything else had been taken, Bradley said.
"I didn't care about any of that," she said. "I still don't."
Jeff Lanza, a retired FBI agent with the Kansas City, Mo., bureau, said the missing cellphones could be vital tools in the hunt for Lisa.
"In any investigation, especially one that requires finding a missing person, cellphone technology plays a crucial role," Lanza said.
In 2007, police found the body of 18-year-old Kelsey Smith in Missouri by tracing signals from her cellphone to the site. She had been abducted two days earlier from a Target store parking lot 20 miles away in Overland Park, Kan.
Bradley said she is trying to stay hopeful.
"She's our little girl. She completes our family. She means everything to my boys. ... I can't live without her," she said.
Irwin said the abduction has been especially hard on the boys, who constantly ask if she has been found.
"We tell them, 'Not yet, not yet,'" Irwin said. "It's the only thing we can think to tell them."
The parents said they can't think of anyone who would want to take Lisa or who had shown an unusual interest in her.
"All I can think of is that maybe somebody wanted a baby," Bradley said.
Investigators on Thursday extended the search to a nearby heavily wooded area, an industrial park and the sewers.
About 100 hundred officers scoured the industrial park and adjacent woods Thursday morning. One of the searchers told a reporter to leave the area and refused to comment on the investigation. Others lifted sewer drain covers and looked inside.
Randy Thurston, a warehouse manager, says officers had also been through the industrial park Tuesday, searching trash bins and pipes.
"It's much more intense over here today," he 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.
Investigators have no suspects and few solid leads following an intensive search that has included federal agents with search dogs scouring the 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 yet to release details about their plans for Thursday, if they would keep the investigation close or expand the search. Capt. Steve Young said police would be working overnight and early Thursday "same as before."
"We're going to keep working as long as calls come in and we think there's absolutely anything we can do," Young said late Wednesday.
Police say the parents are not suspects in Lisa's disappearance.
"If we had more to go on, we could start eliminating some things, but we frankly don't have anything to justify elimination," Young said.
The child was last seen around 10:30 p.m. Monday when her mother checked on her in her crib. Her father discovered the baby missing about five hours later, when he got home from a late-night shift at work.
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.
Associated Press writer Heather Hollingsworth in Kansas City contributed to this report.