A look back at the baby Lisa mystery

'Kelly File' investigates the riveting case


This is a rush transcript from "The Kelly File," January 2, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

MEGYN KELLY, HOST: Good evening. Welcome to a "Kelly File" special investigation. The "Baby Lisa Mystery." I'm Megyn Kelly.

In late 2011 the disappearance of 10-month-old Lisa Irwin captured the nation's attention. How could an infant disappear from her crib in the middle of the night? The images of Lisa with her big blue eyes were splashed all over national media. Three years later there is still no trace of her.

There are suspicions, most of them involving Lisa's mother, Deborah, who was at home that night and says she was sleeping. Fox News would later break the fact that Debra admits to being so drunk she may have blacked out on the night in question. But Debra has always denied involvement in her daughter's disappearance.

As the months passed, the searches eventually stopped. And the story faded from the spotlight.  Until now. "The Kelly File" has obtained never-before-seen interviews of Lisa's parents in the days immediately after her disappearance. Secret tapes recorded by a former top CIA officer, a government-trained spy and interrogator. And what he found could change everything you thought you knew about this case.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: What involvement did you have in the disappearance of Lisa?


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Is there any evidence that indicates that you were or are involved?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Jeremy, Is there any reason that anyone will come forward with evidence, legitimate evidence or information, that would indicate or identify involvement on your part with your daughter's disappearance?


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: How do you know Deborah had put her in the crib?

IRWIN: Because of her reaction when I said she's not in there.  

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: So what happened?

IRWIN: I said she's not in the crib, she's not in the crib! And that's when all hell broke loose. And we were just running all over. And I said, we got to find her, we got to find her. I remember her being -- she was sitting on the floor by the front door crying and screaming, my baby, my baby.  


KELLY: In minutes my exclusive interview with the man they call the human lie detector who interrogated Lisa's parents. But first, a look back at the case that riveted the nation.


KELLY (voice-over): November 11, 2010, little Lisa Irwin is born to parents Deborah Bradley and Jeremy Irwin. The couple, unmarried, lives a seemingly quiet life in Kansas City, Missouri, along with Jeremy's 8-year- old son Blake and Deborah's 5-year-old Michael.

Deborah is a stay home mom. Jeremy works as an electrician. Money is tight, so Jeremy works overtime when he can, including on the night of October 3rd, 2011. Baby Lisa is 10 months old. Jeremy leaves the family home around 5:30 in the evening. Within hours disaster will strike.

At 6:40 p.m., Deborah puts Lisa in her crib, then she heads to her porch to visit with a female neighbor. The pair will spend hours on the porch drinking wine, lots of it. Deborah goes to bed four hours later.  She initially tells police that she checked on Lisa, who she says was asleep in her crib. She turns out all the house lights and goes to sleep with her son Michael in her bed. The time is 10:40 p.m. At 4:00 a.m., Jeremy returns home. Immediately he notices something unusual. All of the house lights, he says, are turned on, and the front door is unlocked. He tries to wake Deborah, but she is groggy. So he goes to check on Lisa.  And here begins the story of every parents' nightmare. His 10-month-old daughter is gone from her crib, his baby appears to have vanished. Jeremy tells Deborah, he says they both become distraught. He runs next door banging on his neighbor's door.

The neighbor answers and he asks whether Lisa is there. He's told she is not. He returns home and says, he now notices that the three family cell phones are missing from the kitchen. He uses his work phone to call 911. Authorities show up and begin searching for the girl. Jeremy tells police about the lights and the front door, and something else he noticed.  He says in their computer room down the hall from Lisa's bedroom the screen in the window appears to have been tampered with. Investigators search the area, but there's no sign of little Lisa. They tell the public the parents are cooperating. The next day the story goes national when Jeremy and Deborah appear on TV to beg for Lisa's safe return.  

BRADLEY: Please, bring her home. Our two other boys are waiting for her. Please, just drop her off anywhere. We don't care. Just somewhere safe where she can come home, please.

KELLY: Deborah is soon given a lie detector test. She later reveals police claimed she failed. Within days the Kansas City police say the parents are no longer cooperating, which Deborah and Jeremy deny. One week after Lisa went missing, the FBI and police stage a break-in to discover ways an intruder could have entered the home. Police find climbing through the tampered window is actually rather difficult and conclude the intruder would have made noise.

Fox News also traveled to Kansas City and visited the Irwin house.

(on camera): This right here is the window through which the family believes the intruder entered their home on the night in question. It leads into a computer room, through that computer room you can get to baby Lisa's room. Right over here, right over here, is the family's backyard.  You can see it's fenced in. They say they have a dog who stays in this backyard, normally, 24/7. They did not hear their dog bark. And right here is the neighbor's house. They also have a dog. Here he comes. Who also stays in the backyard 24/7. His family tells me that he barks at just about anything.

(voice-over): Over the next few days firefighters drain a well under the porch of an abandoned nearby home. And Missouri Governor Jay Nixon orders a one-day deployment of 25 national guardsmen to help with the search. Still, nothing comes of it.

Then, two bombshells.

(on camera): This is a Fox News alert on breaking developments in the disappearance of 11-month-old Lisa Irwin. Yesterday "America Live" unearthing major new developments in this story. I flew to Kansas City, Missouri and sat down for a two-hour one-on-one interview with little Lisa's parents, Deborah Bradley and Jeremy Irwin.

(voice-over): During that interview Deborah admits to heavy drinking on the night her daughter disappeared telling Fox News she drank five to ten glasses of wine. And then she changes the entire timeline of the evening. She now claims she's not sure if she checked on her baby at 10:40 as she originally claimed. She says she thinks the last time she saw her child may have been at 6:40 p.m.

KELLY (on camera): Let's talk about the wine. How much did you consume that day?

BRADLEY: I had several glasses of wine.

KELLY: When you say several, more than three?

BRADLEY: Yes. But that has nothing to do with her.  

KELLY: More than five?

BRADLEY: Probably.  

KELLY: More than ten?


KELLY: When you went in at 10:30 after the neighbor left --  

BRADLEY: Uh-huh.  

KELLY: What did you do?

BRADLEY: Probably went right to my room.

KELLY: Why probably?

BRADLEY: Because sometimes I check on her -- well, most of the time I check on her.  

KELLY: You don't remember?


KELLY: So it's possible you did not check on her before you went to bed at 10:30?


KELLY: So, the last time you saw your daughter alive in your home was when you put her down at 6:40?

BRADLEY: Right. When I put her down. Yes.

KELLY (voice-over): The new information is a major development. An additional four hours has now been added to the case. And that wasn't the only part of Deborah's story that changed. Listen to the answers she gave two Fox News anchors regarding the house window.

(on camera): Do you think they came in through that window?

BRADLEY: Absolutely.  

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Based on the condition it was in, could someone have gone through that? That you saw?


KELLY (voice-over): Days later a Missouri judge grants a search warrant for police to search the Irwin's home. Investigators remove brown paper bags along with Lisa's clothes and toys. It is now 15 days since Lisa disappeared. The FBI brings in cadaver dogs, the first time officials have brought in canines, potentially giving up an important clue they might have discovered had they used the dogs on night one. One of the dogs hits on something reportedly marking the scent of possible human remains in an area on the floor near Deborah's bed.

November 8th, more than a month has now passed. And new potentially important details emerge about the family's missing cell phones. Police records prove that Deborah's phone was used the night baby Lisa disappeared, hours after Deborah claims she went to bed. According to police the first phone call is attempted at 11:57 p.m. Then again at then again at 3:17 a.m., someone attempts to check Deborah's voicemail and to access the internet.

Five minutes later at 3:22, another attempt to check voicemail and access the internet. In all Deborah's attorneys say there were five attempts to get online through those phones that night. Attorney later revealed that the FBI has told them, the cell phones never got more than one-third of a mile away from the Irwin home. Remember, the phones were used around midnight and then three hours later, which raises the question who would steal a baby and three cell phones only to sit by the baby's occupied house for several hours on a cold autumn night? As for that midnight phone call that was attempted, police looked into the number dialed. The call was to a woman named Megan Wright. She lived in a shared home known to be used by drug seekers.  

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Apparently there was a 50-second phone call made from one of the family's phones to my cell phone. About 50 seconds in length. I don't know what was said or who called or who answered my phone.

KELLY: Wright tells police she did not answer any call because she says she didn't have her phone that night. She claims she shares it with her roommate. Wright also says she does not know the Irwins, who live about a mile away. And the Irwins' attorneys say cell phone records show no prior calls between Megan's number or Deborah or Jeremy for the seven month's check before Lisa disappeared.

And now a new twist develops in the case. Megan Wright claims her ex-boyfriend might know the Irwins. He's a neighborhood handyman known as John Jersey Tanko. He's referred to as Jersey Joe. A man with a criminal record, a man who is bald and a man who just happens to fit the description given by three of the Irwins' neighbors who tell police they saw a bald man with a baby on the night of Lisa's disappearance.

Another neighbor claims Jersey once broke into a home only a block away from Lisa's house. Deborah's attorney pushes the claim that Jersey was heard bragging about collecting $300 to steal baby Lisa. That claim is never verified. He says he gave police this information but police say Jersey is not a suspect, that he has some sort of an alibi and that he's been cleared of any involvement. The Irwins want Jersey investigated, but police aren't biting.

Late in the case late in the case Deborah's attorney reveals she didn't actually fail the police-administered polygraph test.  He says police admitted to him that they lied about that to try to force a confession. It didn't work. And to this day Deborah maintains her innocence.

KELLY (on camera): Now, I want to ask you this to people who may still be watching and having doubts about whether you had an involvement in this. What do you say to them?

BRADLEY: There's a bad guy out there with my baby right now. And there's people that are judging me. Please just look for her.


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