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Parents of missing baby 'scraping for anything'

By Maria Sudekum Fisher

Associated Press

Published: Thursday, Oct. 6 2011 4:02 p.m. MDT

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The parents of a missing 10-month-old Missouri girl have given police more than a dozen names as they try to think of potential suspects or people who paid especially close attention to the child, a relative said Thursday.

Investigators have no suspects and few solid leads despite an intensive search for Lisa Irwin, whose parents say was snatched from her crib sometime Monday night or early Tuesday. The search was expanded Thursday to a heavily wooded area, an industrial park and sewers.

"We're scraping for anything, anyone who was at the house, who looked at her strange. Anything," said Mike Lerette, a cousin of the baby's mother.

Her parents are trying to remember people who recently came into contact with Lisa or paid her extra attention, Lerette said. He is encouraging them to think of anyone, from utility workers who visited their Kansas City home to store cashiers, and they've compiled a list of more than a dozen names.

A police spokesman said he wasn't aware of those conversations but that it would make sense it such cases.

"They're probably jogging their brains to think of any person that they maybe haven't told us about," Capt. Steve Young said.

The child's parents, Jeremy Irwin and Deborah Bradley, said they frantically searched their home for any sign of their daughter Tuesday morning but found only an open window, an unlocked front door and house lights blazing. The family's three cellphones, including one that didn't work, also were missing, the couple said during a tearful news conference Thursday morning.

Irwin said he immediately knew 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.

"All I can think of is that maybe somebody wanted a baby," she 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. Police have said the parents aren't suspects in her disappearance.

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, 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."

Investigators extended their search Thursday, with about 100 officers scouring an industrial park and adjacent woods. 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 Thursday's search was "much more intense over here today."

Investigators' intensive search has included federal agents using search dogs to scour the family's home and nearby woods, helicopters, all-terrain vehicles and door-to-door interviews with neighbors.

Police have said one possibility 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 Lisa's older brothers, 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."

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

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