The kidnapping of infants is extremely rare, but when one is kidnapped, the odds of finding the baby alive and well are greater than when the crime involves older children.
Ten-month-old Lisa Irwin was last seen this past Monday evening when her mother, Deborah Bradley, put her to bed in the family's Kansas City, Missouri home. Lisa's father, Jeremy Irwin, returned home from his work as an electrician the following morning at 4 a.m. and found little Lisa missing. Bradley and Irwin also reported three cellphones in the home were missing.
Thursday, the Kansas City Police Department said the family was no longer cooperating with them in their search for the infant. The family said that they simply needed a break from the intense questioning from authorities since the child was discovered missing. The family resumed cooperating with police and met with them on Saturday.
Police combed the inside of the family home and used metal detectors on the property surrounding the house. Police, aided by the FBI, also extensively searched a landfill close to the Irwin home. As of yesterday, police have received 250 tips but have no idea what happened to the infant.
David Finkelhor, the director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire, told the Associated Press that the kidnapping of infants and very young children by strangers is extremely rare. When this does occur, the infant is usually taken by someone who wants to have a baby and cannot. There have also been situations where women have been pregnant but lost the baby or have told people they were pregnant when they were not, and kidnap an infant to show the child to friends and family who were looking forward to the "birth".
Infants, unlike older children, are not usually taken by pedophiles or others for the purpose of harming or killing them.
Ernie Allen, the president of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, an organization based in Arlington Virginia, said, The recovery rate for infants is very, very high. There is real hope here.
Allen stated further that in the past 30 years, his group has investigated 278 cases of infant abduction. Only 13 of these involved a stranger entering a home and taking a baby. Of these infant abductions, only one baby was not recovered unharmed.
The reality is that when an infant goes missing, it is more likely that baby was killed, either intentionally or accidentally, by a caregiver. Bradley told AP that police were treating her as a suspect and kept telling her "She did it."
But odds are meaningless when it comes to individual cases and police are continuing to investigate the kidnapping by a stranger scenario. Meanwhile, Bradley and Irwin are gathering money to offer a reward for the return of their daughter and the parents have issued a plea for her safe return.