Guilt Without Proof: The Lisa Irwin Story

Baby Lisa at doorOn or about October 4, 2011 in Kansas City, Missouri, ten month old Baby Lisa Irwin was discovered missing from her crib.  It was the beginning of a nightmare that continues to take family, friends, community and law enforcement down winding paths of failed efforts and disappointing leads.

It was October 3rd where the choices made resulted in this sad and frustrating mystery, so that is where we will begin.

Baby Lisa Timeline: New Details About The Hours Before Missing Missouri Infant’s Disappearance

Time Line from Huffington Post – First Posted: 11/03/11 07:11 PM ET Updated: 11/04/11 11:54 PM ET

OCT. 3

2:30 p.m.

Baby Lisa’s father, Jeremy Irwin, returns to his Kansas City home from his day job as an electrician. He has a meal and plays with Baby Lisa, his son and Deborah Bradley’s son, according to KCTV5.

4:30 p.m.

The 10-month-old’s mother, Deborah Bradley, and her brother, Phillip Netz, head to a supermarket to buy baby food and boxed wine. A surveillance camera appears to record the couple as they shop at around 4:45 p.m., KCTV5 reports. Samantha Brando, a next-door neighbor who was visiting family’s home with her 4-year-old daughter, checks on Baby Lisa in her crib. Jeremy Irwin stays at home with the kids, WPTV notes.

5 p.m.

Deborah Bradley finishes shopping and returns home with her brother, according to WPTV.

5:30 p.m.

Jeremy Irwin leaves to take on a night gig doing electrical work at a nearby Starbucks. Deborah Bradley’s brother also departs the home, KCTV5 reports.

6 p.m.

Samantha Brando heads out to purchase more alcohol, according to KCTV5.

6:30 p.m.

Samantha Brando returns and her daughter sees Baby Lisa, according to WPTV. Deborah Bradley puts Baby Lisa in her crib. (The Kansas City Star has Deborah Bradley putting Baby Lisa in her crib at 6:40 p.m. and Samantha Brando returning around 7 p.m.).

The older children play inside while Deborah Bradley and Samantha Brando sit on the front porch, smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol. Between 6:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m., Bradley reportedly consumes between five and ten glasses of wine.

10:30 p.m.

Deborah Bradley turns off the lights and goes to sleep. The boys fall asleep in her bed, according to The Kansas City Star. Baby Lisa’s door is closed. Samantha Brando stays on the porch until 11:30 p.m. chatting with another neighbor, KCTV5 reports. She tells authorities she notices nothing out of the ordinary.

OCT. 4

3:30 a.m.

After work keeps him longer than expected, Jeremy Irwin returns home to find the lights on and the screen damaged, according to WPTV (KCTV5 has Jeremy Irwin getting home at 3:45 a.m.). He also notices that the front door is unlocked and a computer room window is open.

Frustrated by the lights being left on when money is tight — and angry about seeing a stray kitten at the foot of the bed — he wakes Deborah Bradley, according to The Kansas City Star.

A groggy Deborah Bradley realizes she hasn’t checked on Baby Lisa, KCTV5 reports. She finds the crib empty. (WPTV reports that Jeremy Irwin is the first to realize Baby Lisa is missing).

Jeremy Irwin runs to Samantha Brando’s house next door, but his neighbors say Lisa isn’t there, WPTV. He realizes that the family’s three cellphones are missing from a counter and dials 911 on a mobile phone he keeps for work.

Officers dispatched to the house are given the following message, according to KCTV5:

[H]e noticed that his 10-month-old daughter is missing and he’s not sure how long she’s been gone. And the screen is busted and he didn’t witness anything.

Baby Lisa at puterI remember well the response to this story and it wasn’t a pretty sight.  Deborah Bradley was immediately judged guilty by arm chair detectives/judges/executioners.  No one dare question their decision of guilt as the bullies piled on and viciously began their furious and self-righteous attacks.  From there — it only got worse.

Deborah Bradley, in particular, could do nothing right in the eyes of the accusing crowd.  Everything she did was suspicious.  They would have done this or that or something else — anything but what she said or did.  The truth of it though — they only think they know what they would do under any given circumstance.  Being in the midst of a traumatic experience can leave us doing and saying things quite to the contrary of what we always supposed our reaction would be.  But you couldn’t get the vigilantes to grasp that little inconvenient fact.

If Deborah Bradley did harm her baby, then Baby Lisa is dead and she will remain dead.  The urgency is over.  Time can be taken to gather evidence and bring mom to justice.  On the other hand, what if Deborah is merely guilty of the bad judgment of drinking too much and not being in any condition to protect her baby from an intruder that stole her away?

The accusing crowd was readily looking for a dead body, not a live baby girl in the arms of an unsuspected abductor.  The distractions may have been enough to allow the person to get away with the crime and with Baby Lisa.  But I’m sure the accusing crowd would never admit to that, even if it were to someday be proven to be absolutely so.

Truth is often stranger than fiction.  It can seem totally unbelievable and even impossible, but there it is.  The unbelievable and impossible ends up being what actually happened.  With that in mind, and not having worked Baby Lisa’s case, I can only have an opinion from reported facts.  It leaves me as an arm chair detective as well.  However, the difference between the accusing crowd and me is that I have an open-mind and I’m ready to let the truth be the truth no matter what it turns out to be.

According to the time line, Deborah goes into her house around 10:30 PM, after visiting and drinking too much.  Allegedly, Samantha Brando, the young lady that has been visiting and drinking with mom, remains either on the Bradley porch or next door for an hour visiting with another neighbor.  She says she noted nothing out of the ordinary and definitely mentions nothing about lights coming back on.

Now, to throw in a new character into this plot.

Megan Wright’s phone was allegedly called from one of Deborah Bradley/Jeremy Irwin’s missing phones either on the evening or night of October 3rd or early morning hours of October 4th.  This, according to statements made by Wright herself.  She alleges she has been told different times by the police.  She also alleges that many people had access to her phone and then maybe it was only one during that particular time period.

So, a call was made to her phone by a phone missing from the Bradley/Irwin household?  Someone else had her phone, but she doesn’t know who for sure?  However, she hunts down her phone and finds all her info deleted and she gets quite upset?  She then goes to the Waffle House around 3 AM because her friend thought it would be a good idea?  And around 3:45 AM, Baby Lisa is discovered missing.  How interesting is that?

Only the police (and parties involved) know when the call was actually made from one of the Bradley/Irwin phones to Megan Wright’s phone.

And, as of right now… only the parties involved know who it was that actually made the call and just who that caller talked to and “why”.  What was that call all about?

Did the call take place while Deborah Bradley was on the porch visiting and drinking too much, or while she was sleeping deeply and perhaps considered passed out?  And why was the call made to Megan Wright’s phone?  Why was the person calling her number?  What did that person want from whoever answered the phone?

Megan Wright volunteers that, when she was little, her mom took her and her brothers to Mexico and left them there.  (We don’t know why they were left or how Megan got back to the US.)  Is this what she thinks happened to Baby Lisa?

So many questions and so few answers.

As I said earlier, truth can be stranger than fiction.  People are unpredictable and don’t go by a strict rule of a story line required by writers.

Could Deborah Bradley have killed her child, and though drunk — found a way to get rid of the evidence, staged a scene of an intruder, while the boys lay sleeping and then lay down to calmly be awakened by her husband?

And, Megan Wright?  She gets her phone back and is so upset by the deletion of info that her friend suggests she go out — which is, of course, during a potential period that Baby Lisa is going missing?

Was one or both setup?… or either one a party to whatever happened that night?

Without proof, Deborah Bradley was assumed to be guilty of killing and disposing of her child.  And rather than out there looking for a live child that may have actually been kidnapped, the accusing crowd was looking for a dead body and a way to send Bradley off to prison for a crime no one knows was even committed.

I’m still wondering just who it was that used the Bradley/Irwin phone to call Megan Wright’s number and why?  Of all nights… why this one in particular? 

Guilt without proof embraces the Lisa Irwin story and leaves many looking only for a dead body, rather than a missing child… a missing Baby Lisa.

Lisa Irwin Age Progressed - Courtesy of National Center for Missing & Exploited Children

Lisa Irwin Age Progressed – Courtesy of National Center for Missing & Exploited Children


First published at:   Gary C. King’s True Crime Blog & True Crime Author Gary C. King’s Blog