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Baby Lisa's parents still hopeful for her return 10 years later

Posted at 6:25 PM, Oct 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-04 00:18:24-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Lisa Irwin disappeared 10 years ago. Her disappearance rocked Kansas City and captured the country’s attention. Days turned to weeks and months with no answers. Baby Lisa, as she became known, had vanished.

A decade later, her parents spoke with KSBH 41 News about their hope to have their daughter back someday and being under the microscope in her disappearance.

Lisa was 10 months old when she disappeared. Her parents' pleas for her return became national headlines as police and other agencies like the FBI searched for Baby Lisa.

Deborah Bradley says she last saw her daughter on Oct. 3, 2011, when she put her to bed in their Northland home. She said Jeremy Irwin was working overnight.

“Jeremy came home early in the morning and went into Lisa’s room and she wasn’t there,” Bradley said. “Jeremy comes in the room panicked and shakes me awake and says, ‘Where’s Lisa?’ And I said, ‘What do you mean where’s Lisa? She’s in her room.’ And he said, ‘No, she’s not.' Immediately, like you, you panic instantly.”

Bradley said when Jeremy returned early the morning of Oct. 4, 2011, he found the front door unlocked and cell phones missing.

“I see the window’s broken, and that’s when it hit me, someone had to have taken her, and instantly you’re just like, ‘This isn’t real. This isn’t happening. Where is she?’” Bradley said.

When asked after 10 years what they think happened to Lisa, Bradley said she thinks Lisa's disappearance was premeditated.

“I think that someone was paid to come into our home," Bradley said. "Our house was watched, and they waited for the perfect opportunity. Jeremy never really worked nights. I absolutely believe she was human trafficked.”

The nation watched the intense search in and around the family home after Lisa disappeared. The national spotlight followed any potential new details, some about them. From reports an FBI cadaver dog picked up a scent inside the home to Bradley admitting she had several glasses of wine that night to whether the parents continued to cooperate with police.

Despite public scrutiny, Bradley said neither she nor her family had anything to do with Lisa’s disappearance.

“Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, even if we know it’s wrong,” she said.

Bradley said comments about her used to bother her a lot, but as time has gone on, she has “developed a thick skin.”

“At this point, we just don’t care about the negative stuff," she said. "We know the truth, and there are people looking for her that know the truth and are trying to get her home, and we trust the police and we trust the FBI that eventually they’re going to get the tips and the information or put everything together that’s going to lead to bringing her home.”

A decade later, the Kansas City, Missouri, Police Department said they have no suspects and they would not discuss details of the case because this is still an active missing person’s case and investigation.

Bradley and Irwin still have hope, even keeping Lisa’s room the same.

“When she comes home, she knows that we never stopped including her. We never stopped waiting for her, and she’s always been a member of our family, no matter what,” Bradley said.

They hope the latest age progression photo helps.

“Anything could happen, and [if] she sees herself [and thinks], ‘Wait a minute, that girl looks like me,'” Bradley said. “... This picture of her looks just like my mom did when she was little. And I can see both of us, you know, in different facial features, and it’s, it’s a bittersweet thing because it’s a picture but it’s not the real her, and that’s what we wish we had.”

Irwin hopes social media could be the answer.

“We’re hopeful with social media and technology that maybe she has access to a phone,” Irwin said.

Bradly and Irwin are also hopeful someday a DNA database could even crack the case, that maybe Lisa herself might submit her own DNA.

“That’d be great. I mean, it’s hard to stay positive over 10 years, but there’s new, new things coming up all the time it seems like,” Irwin said.

They said they have submitted their own DNA to databases as well as Bradley's brother in hopes they would be a match someday to Lisa’s.

“Our little girl is gonna be 11 in November, and we don’t even know what she looks like, the stuff she likes, the sound of her voice,” Bradley said. “... I feel she’s alive. She’s out there and eventually she’s gonna come home.”

KCPD told KSHB 41 News while they would not discuss details of the case because this is an active investigation, they do welcome any new information or tips to the TIPS hotline. Tips can stay anonymous, just call 474-TIPS.

Bradley said they still get tips that they turn over to police as well and there is still a $100,000 reward.