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Mystery of 10-month-old baby snatched from cot grips America

Original Source: TIMES: FRIDAY 07 OCTOBER 2011
The Times Sadie Gray 7 October 2011

Mystery of 10-month-old baby snatched from cot grips America 

The mystery disappearance of a 10-month-old baby apparently snatched from her cot while her mother slept has gripped America as police claimed that the childs desperate parents had stopped co-operating with their investigation.


Lisa Irwin was last seen by her mother, Deborah Bradley, asleep at the familys Kansas City home at 10.30pm on Monday. Her father Jeremy Irwin found her missing when he returned from work at 4am.


In a case which has echoes of the disappearance of Madeleine McCann in 2007, four days on, detectives continue to draw a blank despite extensive searches by hundreds of officers, scores of tip-offs and a handful of alleged sightings.


Now Ms Bradley and Mr Irwin are reported to have withdrawn their co-operation from Missouri police having apparently come under scrutiny themselves. They have, however, never been named as suspects and moved swiftly to deny reports of their non-co-operation.


The row broke out after Captain Steve Young, of Kansas City police, yesterday told the local newspaper, the Kansas City Star, that the couple had withdrawn their assistance.


?It doesnt help the case," he said. They live in the house. They intimately have information about what's been going on. They know the child."


Mr Irwin responded by saying: ?We want the public to know we have never stopped co-operating with police" The family is expected to make a further statement today.


Earlier, Lisa's parents had claimed that they were unable to contact the police immediately on discovering her missing because whoever had abducted her had also stolen three mobile phones form the house.


The couple have made a series of emotional pleas for the return of their blue-eyed, blonde-haired daughter. ?Anything, even the smallest bit of information, can help lead to her return," Mr Irwin said at a press conference on Wednesday.


?Anybody that might have her that can drop her off at any place safe, a fire station or hospital or church, no questions asked. We just want to have her back."


Ms Bradley, tearful and clutching one of Lisa's soft toys, added: ?We just want to bring our baby back, please bring her home. Our two other boys are waiting for her. Just bring her home."


Since Lisa was reported missing on Tuesday more than 300 police officers, FBI agents and firefighters have scoured the area around the familys home in Northland. The area is regarded as quiet and with a close-knit community.


More than 300 residents have allowed officers to search their property, culverts and ditches have been probed and large areas of brush razed with chainsaws in the bid to find any clue to Lisa's whereabouts.


A mounted patrol, search and rescue dogs, a ?fugitive unit" and narcotics and vice specialists have also been deployed in the search.


Dozens of reported sightings of the baby are under investigation. In nearby St Joseph, a middle-aged couple with a baby matching Lisa's description were spotted at a service station on Highway 169, and although Kansas City police are examining CCTV, they say it does not appear to be a breakthrough.


A hotline to the police incident room has logged 47 tip-offs. ?Unfortunately none of those have really led us anywhere," said Captain Young. A police command post set up near the familys home has been dismantled.


One theory is that an intruder may have broken in through a front window, kidnapping the baby, he said. The couples two young sons, asleep in another room in the house, were undisturbed.


?Originally there was a window on the front of the house that appeared to be tampered with, thats something they were looking at, but we're not really sure if thats the entry point or not. Thats just a detail. The main point is there is a 10-month-old who isn't where she belongs and we're trying to find that child."


Police said that child abductions were usually linked to custody battles or domestic disputes, which did not appear to apply in the Irwin case.


Mr Irwin's parents have insisted that the couple had nothing to do with Liza's disappearance. ?Absolutely not," Rick Irwin told NBC News. ?I'm not a police officer. You have to have a custody battle, but you have a loving family, a close-knit family."


Michelle Irwin added: ?That baby is everything to them. They are awesome parents."


Lisa had a cough and cold at the time of her disappearance, her parents said, and was dressed in purple shorts and a purple jumper printed with white kittens.


You watched that trial. Are you ashamed? We have all, collectively, acted inexcusably by intruding into the personal grief of the Kercher family


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