Image: Investigators leave the home of missing baby Lisa Irwin in Kansas City, Mo.
Orlin Wagner  /  AP
Investigators leave the home of missing baby Lisa Irwin in Kansas City, Mo., Wednesday.
updated 10/21/2011 9:52:15 PM ET 2011-10-22T01:52:15

An FBI cadaver dog reacted to the scent of a dead person inside the Kansas City home where a baby girl disappeared nearly three weeks ago, and investigators discovered soil in the backyard that had been "recently disturbed or overturned," police said in a court document released Friday.

But the lawyer for the family questioned the significance of the report.

The affidavit, filed earlier this week in support of a search warrant targeting the family's home, also stated that the girl's mother, Deborah Bradley, "made the statement she did not initially look for her baby behind the house because she 'was afraid of what she might find.'"

Those details and others in the affidavit, publicly released Friday, led to a daylong search Wednesday of the family's home, where the parents say then-10-month-old Lisa Irwin must have been snatched in the middle of the night as the mother and two other boys slept. Bradley and the baby's father, Jeremy Irwin, reported the girl missing on Oct. 4 and have denied any role in the disappearance while insisting police have pointed the finger at them.

The affidavit stated that an FBI cadaver dog taken into the house Monday indicated a "positive 'hit' for the scent of a deceased human in an area of the floor of Bradley's bedroom near the bed."

The FBI dogs, which often are used at both disaster and crime scenes, are trained "specially to recognize the scent of decaying, decomposing human flesh," retired FBI special agent Jeff Lanza said Friday.

"That can be the scent of an actual body decomposing, or residual scents after the body is no longer there," Lanza said.

But Joe Tacopina, lawyer for the parents, told The Associated Press late Friday he considers the report meaningless. Tacopina noted that cadaver dogs are trained to detect decomposing flesh — and even if the baby had died, decomposition could not have happened so quickly.

The document also indicated police felt they needed handheld digging tools after an investigator noticed dirt in a garden area behind the home appeared to have been "recently disturbed or overturned." During Wednesday's search, investigators could be seen digging behind a shed in the backyard.

Among other revelations in the affidavit:

—Officers searched all rooms in the house and the basement after being called to the home Oct. 4. Officers sought evidence but because the parents said the baby had been abducted, the only areas extensively processed for DNA and fingerprints were the baby's bedroom and possible entry points.

—The parents had told police that three cell phones were missing. The affidavit said a phone had since been found in a desk drawer, but that phone wasn't one of those reported missing. The missing phones haven't been found.

—Interviews with people involved in the case revealed "conflicting information for clear direction in the investigation."

Another document released Friday revealed some of what police recovered from the home during Wednesday's search: a comforter and blanket, some clothes, rolls of tape and a tape dispenser.

The family's local lawyer, Cynthia Short, did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment on the documents, and police declined to discuss what they found.

But before the affidavit was released, a statement issued by Short's office insisted the parents had no role in the disappearance and disputed claims that the parents aren't cooperating with police. The statement said the parents have consented to "unfettered access" to their property and allowed police to take hair and other samples.

"They have taken all calls from detectives, and answered questions posed again and again," the statement read. "In the initial hours of the investigation, they tolerated accusations, volunteered to take polygraph examinations; continued to work with detectives even after the interviews turned into pointed accusations."

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Video: Police obtain search warrant in missing baby case

  1. Closed captioning of: Police obtain search warrant in missing baby case

    >> turn to the search for lisa irwin, the kansas city baby who disappeared two weeks ago. police obtained a search warrant for the baby's home. peter alexander has details on that.

    >> reporter: matt, good morning to you. police tell nbc news they will execute that later today. this is the home where the parents say their baby daughter disappeared now more than two weeks ago. the parents have been staying elsewhere but police have been standing guard overnight. that means lisa 's parents are no longer allowed to freely enter that home. this as the hunt for clues continues elsewhere too. investigators is swarmed this wooded area tuesday even temporarily setting up a no-fly zone above for their fourth search at this site just blocks from the irwin family home.

    >> we developed it and unfortunately didn't pan out.

    >> reporter: the site is near this dumpster where firefighters tell nbc news they responded to a fire an hour and a half before lisa 's parents reported the baby missing from her crib. lisa 's mother, deborah bradley says police showed her burned clothing during questioning. the tense relationship between the two shows little side of cooling. the police say the parents have not agreed to an unrestricted interview for 11 days after deborah became uncomfortable with the questions and ended their conversation.

    >> deborah , do you think you'll be arrested.

    >> i don't know. i hope not. i had absolutely nothing to do with it. it's a waste of time, money, energy and focus and people should be looking for her.

    >> reporter: returning to a relative's home tuesday lisa 's parents ignored reporters' questions. still, new scrutiny is focused on apparent inconsistencies related to deborah 's time line from that night. the couple's attorney tuesday on "today."

    >> obviously she wasn't marking the time down when putting the baby to bed.

    >> reporter: two days earlier she said she was. when was the last time you saw her.

    >> 6:40. i looked at the clock and she had been in bed.

    >> reporter: we watched home videos of lisa from earlier this year. it's hard to watch that, isn't it? she's adorable.

    >> it makes me feel good but it makes me overwhelmed at the same time because i don't know if i'll ever have more than those videos. it's a scary thought.

    >> yeah, it's hard. that's her. there she is. that's how she always was, happy and talking to everybody.

    >> reporter: police tell nbc news that they have in their custody evidence that is the computer hard drives on those hard drives lisa 's parents say is some other video of their baby daughter that they were hoping to release to help bring more public interest to the case. matt.

    >> all right, pete alexander in kansas city this morning. thank

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