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Missing baby's parents barred from home during search

One of the most aggressive police searches yet of the home where a Kansas City infant went missing more than two weeks ago drew officers Wednesday armed with shovels, rakes and other tools who hauled off bags that appeared to be full of potential evidence.
/ Source: NBC News and news services

One of the most aggressive police searches yet of the home where a Kansas City infant went missing more than two weeks ago drew officers Wednesday armed with shovels, rakes and other tools who hauled off bags that appeared to be full of potential evidence.

Police refused to say what they found inside or outside the home belonging to Jeremy Irwin and Deborah Bradley, who say an intruder snatched their baby daughter, Lisa, from her crib in the middle of the night as the mother and two other boys slept.

From shortly after sunrise through late afternoon, FBI agents and police officers joined in the search that began after a judge issued a warrant that prevented the parents from returning to the house while it was under way.

Officers headed to the back of the home with shovels, rakes and a ladder and could be seen digging behind a shed in the yard. Out front, investigators left the house carrying brown paper bags and clear plastic bags and took them to vehicles parked outside.

Police also brought in a bomb and arson truck to assist the search, though spokesman Capt. Steve Young said there were no indications of explosives in the house. Some bomb detection devices use X-ray technology to scan solid objects to reveal items concealed within. An AP reporter saw investigators carrying at least a dozen thin, black rectangular sheets away from the home during the afternoon.

Lisa Irwin was 10 months old on Oct. 4 when her parents reported her missing. Her father, an electrician, said he returned home from a late shift to discover the lights on, a window tampered with, the front door unlocked and Lisa gone. Bradley and Lisa's two older brothers had been asleep elsewhere in the house. Bradley has admitted and may have blacked out.

The parents insist their baby was snatched by an intruder.

Police, FBI agents, officers from area law enforcement agencies and the Missouri National Guard already have searched the family's home, neighborhood, nearby wooded areas, a landfill and abandoned homes. Police have refused to discuss any evidence gathered in the searches, saying only that they remain without a suspect.

There was no indication the family has tried to block investigators' access to their home, which already has been scoured by FBI agents with dogs.

The parents' attorney, Joe Tacopina, said Wednesday that he welcomed the search, but "we want this to be done in good faith, not to match some predetermined conclusion."

Earlier Wednesday, Tacopina questioned the need for a warrant.

"They can go in and out any time," he said of police. "They have had unfettered access because we want answers."

FBI spokeswoman Bridget Patton said Wednesday's search was not based on any sort of tip. Authorities restricted media access, Patton said, because agents were using a procedure involving dogs that they didn't want to be recorded. She declined to elaborate.

Young said all previous searches of the house have been conducted with the family's consent. Wednesday's warrant prevents anyone except those involved in the investigation from entering, meaning family members — who have returned home from time to time to collect clothes and other belongings — may not go back inside until the search is over. It wasn't immediately clear whether the search would resume Thursday.

The Federal Aviation Administration established a no-fly zone over the search area effective until 5 p.m., agency spokesman Tony Molinaro said. He characterized the zone as a safety precaution and said it had been requested by law enforcement. Similar restrictions were introduced during a search of the area Tuesday.

Questions about a fire
On Tuesday, investigators swarmed the woods located a few blocks away from the Irwin home for their fourth search of the area. The site is near a dumpster where firefighters told NBC News they had responded to a fire an hour and a half before Lisa's parents reported the baby missing.

Bradley said police showed burned clothing to her during interrogations, NBC reported.

Also on Tuesday, Young said Bradley and Jeremy Irwin had not sat down face-to-face with investigators since Oct. 8, and had only responded to questions seeking clarification on tips.

It's been 10 days since the couple have answered police questions on "things that we believe only they would know about," he said.

Much attention has focused on a rash of recent TV interviews the parents have given in which Bradley admitted she had consumed several glasses of wine the night that Lisa disappeared. She also told NBC that she did not see the baby after putting her to bed at about 6:40 p.m. — roughly four hours earlier than the time she originally gave police. She didn't explain the difference.

Tacopina has said Bradley's candid words indicate the parents have nothing to hide.

Bradley has said she expects to be arrested in her baby's disappearance, but told NBC News she hoped she wouldn't.

"I had absolutely nothing to do with it," she said. "It's a waste of time, money, energy and focus and people should be looking for [Lisa]."