Ten-month-old Lisa has chubby cheeks, a sparkling smile and a heartbreaking pet name within her family: “Pumpkin Pie.”
According to her parents, the night of Oct. 3 started out like any other at their Kansas City, Mo., home. While Lisa’s dad Jeremy Irwin was working the graveyard shift as an electrician, Lisa’s mom Deborah Bradley put the baby to bed in her crib.
But when Irwin returned home early the next morning, he found the front door unlocked, a window open, three cell phones missing – and Lisa’s crib empty.
Her parents say they are devastated and desperate to find Lisa – and have hired a private investigator to aid the search. In one of several public pleas, Bradley held up a Barney stuffed animal and sobbed: “We just want our baby back. Please, bring her home.”
But in a case reminiscent of the Caylee Anthony disappearance, as police begin a second week of searching for baby Lisa, questions are being raised about the parents’ story, and what really happened that Monday night.
Mother Facing Questions
Bradley has acknowledged that police accused her of doing something to Lisa. She says authorities also told her that she failed a polygraph test (police said they would not discuss any result). A relative says that Bradley is bracing to be arrested at any moment.
“From the start when they’ve questioned me, once I couldn’t fill in gaps, it turned into: ‘You did it, you did it,'” Bradley tells Good Morning America.
Irwin acknowledges the bizarre nature of the scene, telling GMA that, “The windows were open and lights were on and she was nowhere to be found. We’ve been going over everything in our minds. We just don’t have any idea.”
Still, both parents – who are engaged to be married and have two other children – have worked with police along the way, with the notable exception of one disputed point when investigators claimed the parents had ceased cooperating. The family say they were simply exhausted by incessant questioning, and soon after were back speaking with police.
Police Capt. Steve Young denies that the investigation is focusing primarily on family members.
“We’re spending our time looking at everything,” he tells the Today show. “We have detectives farmed in and out of it all day long, chasing leads as they come and getting a lot of help from local police departments and some federal agencies as well, so we’re spending our time everywhere.”
No Strong Leads
Police staged a recreation of a break-in into the home, and the outcome showed that entering through a window was awkward and noisy. On Tuesday, investigators spent several hours at a well at an abandoned house near Lisa’s home, but came up empty.
The front- and backyards of the family home have been searched with metal detectors. Local TV stations have been subpoenaed for footage of interviews with family, friends and neighbors. People have been interviewed about a homeless man seen recently in the neighborhood.
But with what appears to be a lack of solid leads in this baffling case, the family says they believe police are focusing on them to the exclusion of other possibilities.
In an interview with ABC News, Ashley Irwin, Lisa’s aunt, said Bradley is preparing to be charged in the case, and that the family believes Bradley’s arrest is “inevitable,” which Ashley calls a mistake.
“Anybody who spends any time with them, you know it’s not true,” Ashley says. “She’s genuine. She loves that child. It’s her baby. ? She would never anything to hurt her.”