By Curtis Skinner
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Police in Northern California on Monday shot and killed a carjacking suspect believed to be the man wanted as a "person of interest" in the disappearance of his 6-month-old daughter earlier this month, authorities said.
Positive identification hinged on an autopsy, but police said the man killed by authorities after a brief foot chase and an exchange of gunfire was thought to be Matthew Graham, 23, the fugitive father of the missing infant.
The suspect was gunned down in the scenic town of Dunsmuir, south of Mount Shasta, in an area where authorities had focused their search for Graham.
Shasta County Sheriff Tom Bosenko told reporters at a news conference that the carjacking victims identified the man who stole their car as Matthew Graham after being shown a photograph of him.
Graham reported his baby daughter, Ember, missing early on the morning of July 2, telling investigators he believed a stranger had abducted the child from her crib in their trailer home in Anderson, a community about 50 miles (80 km) south of Dunsmuir.
Authorities mounted a search for the girl, who they said suffers from a seizure disorder. The father was characterized almost from the outset as a person of interest in the case, though he was not charged.
Days later investigators said they learned that Graham, a convicted felon, had failed to check in with probation officers as required, and his mother reported he had stolen her mobile phone, cash and a handgun before disappearing himself.
A manhunt ensued, and a warrant was issued for Graham's arrest, charging him with being a felon in possession of a firearm and a probation violation.
The ground search for the child was suspended last week, as investigators said they found no credible evidence supporting the father's account of a kidnapping. Her whereabouts remained a mystery on Monday.
Bosenko told the local Redding Record Searchlight newspaper that he did not believe the child was still alive.
(Additional reporting by Steve Gorman from Los Angeles; Editing by Eric Walsh)