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Police Look to Tip Line for New Leads in Case of Missing Missouri Baby Lisa Irwin

 

Kansas City police say they have received at least 200 calls and a dozen tips over the weekend in the case of missing baby Lisa Irwin -- who disappeared three weeks ago -- but so far they have only generated a string of false positives in the search for the 10-month-old.

Hundreds have reported seeing the missing Kansas City baby in places as far away as California, but officials say because of Lisa's young age, countless babies match the same description. She was just 10 months old when she disappeared. She has a distinguishing birth mark on her right thigh, but that would hardly be noticed from a distance.

Yet some witness accounts have been more helpful. Three witnesses reported seeing a man with a baby on the night Lisa disappeared in the same area.

Surveillance video from a gas station near Lisa's Kansas City home showed a man exiting a wooded area shortly before the baby was reported missing.

The video, first reported by ABC News, shows a man dressed in white leaving the wooded area at 2:30 a.m. local time on the same night Lisa disappeared. 

The baby's mother, Deborah Bradley, told authorities she last saw Lisa in her crib on the night of Oct. 3. She was reported missing more than nine hours later when her father, Jeremy Irwin, returned home from work and noticed Lisa was gone. The family says Lisa, whose birthday is Nov. 11, was abducted from their home.

Investigators in the past week have stepped up their focus on the parents, searching their home after a cadaver dog reacted to what seemed to be the scent of a dead person inside.

The couple's attorneys, meanwhile, say the parents are still answering questions and deny having anything to do with the disappearance.

Without any formal suspects, police can't yet rule out that Lisa was abducted in the middle of the night and taken away from the area, potentially entering a vast pool of infants that could pass for Lisa.

"We do not want to discourage anyone from calling in a tip that may lead to Lisa Irwin," police spokeswoman Sgt. Stacey Graves said.

In northwest Missouri, police in St. Joseph have taken at least three calls from people who thought they saw Lisa. One came from a gas station where a child in a car seat resembled the missing baby. Another time, a couple shopping at a St. Joseph mall aroused suspicions before an officer was able to use a photo to determine their baby wasn't Lisa.

"Something that has attracted this much attention is generating a lot of, `That looks like it could be.' And so they are calling the police to check it out," said St. Joseph police spokesman Commander Jim Connors. "I actually favor that kind of thing. It's better than people not calling the police to check it out."

Over the past 20 years, about one in six children has been recovered as the result of photographs on fliers, billboards and other media, Allen said.

In one case in Texas, a 5-year-old saw a flier on her dining room table and told her mother that the pictured boy was a classmate. Her mother was doubtful but eventually called the school principal. It was learned that the boy had been abducted from Michigan.

Allen said another child was recovered after a young girl waiting in a south Texas health clinic wandered down a hallway and recognized one of the children on a missing children bulletin board display.

"There is example after example," he said. "Photos are powerful."

The Kansas City Police Department is asking anyone with information about the case to call (816) 474-8477.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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