As missing Kansas City baby turns 1, little progress seen

KANSAS CITY, Mo Thu Nov 10, 2011 7:10pm EST

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KANSAS CITY, Mo (Reuters) - The two half-brothers of missing baby Lisa Irwin were interviewed on Thursday afternoon for the first time since just after she was reported missing from her home more than a month ago.

The interviews, long sought by police, came on the eve of Lisa's first birthday Friday and at a time when the investigation has shown little visible progress.

The brothers, ages 5 and 8, were home the night Lisa was last seen. Parents Jeremy Irwin and Deborah Bradley had agreed to allow authorities to interview them two weeks ago, but changed their minds.

The interviews on Thursday were conducted by family service specialists, with police and the FBI observing, said Darin Snapp, a Kansas City Police Department spokesman.

The spotlight has faded somewhat from the Irwin case.

Reporters no longer linger constantly outside the Irwin's Kansas City home. A website kept by the family and its supporters, findbabylisa.com, hasn't been updated since October 31. Police are less visible in the neighborhood.

"We still investigate every tip we receive, nothing has changed with that," Snapp said.

Investigators have received 1,205 tips since the baby was reported missing on October 4, clearing 959 of them, Snapp said. If a tip justifies a search, that will happen, he said.

Lisa's parents have not talked with police since days after she was reported missing. Snapp said police are talking with the couple's lawyers about interviews but nothing is set.

The Irwin case is an exception to most child abductions.

About 90 percent of child abductions are resolved within 24 hours, said Ernie Allen, president of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

In the past 25 years kidnapped children aged 1 or younger have been recovered safely 266 of 278 times, though sometimes months or years later, Allen said.

"The vast majority of time they are not taken to harm them," Allen said. "So if someone took Lisa, the likelihood is she is out there somewhere. Somebody knows where she is and what happened to her."

Bradley said police accused her of killing Lisa, but she denies knowing what happened to her daughter. She said she last saw Lisa when she put her to bed the evening of October 3. Bradley said she then drank heavily, fell asleep and that Lisa was missing when Jeremy returned from work early the next morning.

Allen said the couple's reluctance to talk with police does not mean they are guilty of anything. Police commonly focus on the parents when a child goes missing and parents react differently to that scrutiny, he said.

Still, the couple's unwillingness to talk with police raised suspicions to Bill Anders, a former deputy sheriff and corrections officer who lives five doors from the Irwin's.

"If it was me, I'd be hounding all the agencies, I'd be on their doorstep day and night," Anders said.

In any case, Anders said he can only imagine how difficult Lisa's first birthday will be on the family.

"As a parent, I'd be devastated," Anders said.

(Editing by David Bailey and Jerry Norton)

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