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Cadaver dog has 'hit' inside baby Lisa's home

A police affidavit says an FBI cadaver dog indicated a reaction to the scent of dead person inside the Kansas city home where a baby girl disappeared nearly three weeks ago.
Investigators leave the home of missing baby Lisa Irwin in Kansas City, Mo., Wednesday.
Investigators leave the home of missing baby Lisa Irwin in Kansas City, Mo., Wednesday.Orlin Wagner / AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

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."