Cops close command post in missing Mo. baby case

AP News
Posted: Nov 23, 2011 5:05 PM
Cops close command post in missing Mo. baby case

Leads in the case of a missing Kansas City baby have slowed to a trickle, prompting police to close a command post where about a dozen investigators have been working on the case since the child disappeared seven weeks ago.

Police insist they haven't given up on finding Lisa Irwin, who was 10 months old when her parents reported her missing Oct. 4. But with little new information coming in and more than 200 cases being handled by the police department's Crimes Against Children unit, it didn't make sense to keep so many federal and local agents solely dedicated to the case and outside their normal offices, spokesman Capt. Steve Young said.

"There is still work being done on the case," Young said Wednesday. "It's not to say there has been neglect on the other cases, but there has been a heavy workload for detectives who weren't assigned to the command post ... This will get things more back to normal."

Investigators said they've cleared nearly all of the more than 1,300 tips that have come in since Lisa Irwin's parents told police they believed their daughter was snatched from her crib overnight by an intruder. Despite an extensive search of the family's home, neighborhood, nearby woods and landfills, police have found no solid leads or suspects.

Ernie Allen, president of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, stressed that closing the command post does not mean it's time for the community to give up hope that Lisa will be found.

"In these longer-term cases where a child is not found quickly, you simply don't have enough for people to do," he said. "You can't maintain a command post and that level of staffing indefinitely. The fields have been searched, interviews conducted, the intense immediate response to the child's disappearance has happened. The challenge now is to make sure the public doesn't forget."

Allen said he's sure someone knows what happened to the baby and urged them to contact authorities.

"While we know time is the enemy and rapid response is the single most important thing that needs to happen, that has led many to believe that if you don't find a child quickly, there is no hope," he said. "That's just not true."

The child was reported missing just after 4 a.m., when her father came home from a rare late shift at work and found his home's lights were on, a window was ajar and the front door was unlocked. Lisa's parents, Deborah Bradley and Jeremy Irwin, said they think a stranger broke into their house and kidnapped their daughter as Bradley slept.

An Amber Alert issued that day sparked a frantic search by hundreds of Kansas City police officers and FBI agents. Investigators knocked on neighbors' doors, mounted shoulder-to-shoulder searches of wooded areas near the home, combed through landfills and made pleas through the media.

A New York-based security consultant later announced that anonymous donors were offering a $100,000 reward for Lisa's return or information leading to the conviction of anyone involved in her disappearance.

Bradley has told reporters she was being treated as a suspect, saying police told her she'd failed a polygraph test, but she insists she doesn't know what happened to her daughter.

Bradley's story about the night Lisa went missing has changed a few times, most notably her early claims that she last checked on Lisa around 10:30 p.m. on Oct. 3. She later acknowledged spending the evening getting drunk on boxed wine with a neighbor and last seeing her daughter when she put her to bed around 6:30 p.m.