KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Kansas City firefighters searched a well behind a vacant home Tuesday in connection with the case of missing baby Lisa Irwin, who was born 11 months ago Tuesday.
After lowering firefighters into the well twice and finding nothing, they requested help draining about 10 feet of water from the well, which authorities described as being 30 to 40 feet deep and about 3 feet wide. Then they lowered a firefighter for the third time, just to make sure no cellphones or other evidence sat at the bottom.
They found nothing, said Capt. Steve Young, a police spokesman.
A tipster had suggested that police check the decaying home in the city's Northland neighborhood. Unoccupied for years, it is about four blocks from the Irwin home. While there, police discovered the well under a deck, officials said.
Firefighters were summoned to the backyard about 10:30 a.m. to search the well. Workers set up a tripod and other equipment on the deck before lowering a firefighter into the well. The firefighter reported feeling something but wasn't sure what. Firefighters lowered a different person into the well at 11:45 a.m.
About 12:15 p.m., two large trucks arrived with suction equipment for draining the well. Then, officials began removing more of the deck so they could maneuver the hoses for draining the well into place.
About 2:10 p.m., after the water had been removed, officials sent another firefighter into the well for a final check.
Searching the well "was the prudent thing to do," Young said.
The house has been empty for several years, neighbors say, and has become an eyesore. It long has been covered with vines, branches and overgrowth. It was only in the last several weeks that a crew arrived to clear off that overgrowth.
Also Tuesday, an aunt of Lisa's told McClatchy Newspapers that comments she gave on "Good Morning America" Tuesday morning were taken out of context and she had no knowledge of any police plan to arrest the girl's mother, Deborah Bradley.
"It is my fault because I did not choose my words carefully enough to articulate the point I was trying to convey," said Ashley Irwin.
Hypothetically, Irwin said, police tend to focus their investigative efforts on the parents of a missing child if other leads fail to materialize.
"When they don't have suspects, when they don't have any leads, then it always circles back around to square one, which is the parents," she told McClatchy Newspapers.
Earlier, on television, she said: "It is what the police do; they don't have any leads so they have to pin it on somebody."
In response to the television interview, Young, the police spokesman, said any claim that police were trying to pin the disappearance on the child's mother "was absolutely not true."
"We don't feel any pressure to accuse any body," Young said. "We are under pressure to do what we can to find a child."
He added that he hasn't heard anything about a pending arrest in the case. He said is a "bit of a stretch" and "speculation" by the family that an arrest was coming soon.
Tuesday marked one week since the baby's disappearance. Lisa was reported missing about 4 a.m. Oct. 4 after her father, Jeremy Irwin, returned home from work as an electrician and discovered she was gone from her bedroom.
Bradley told police she last saw Lisa at 10:30 p.m. Oct. 3 sleeping in her crib. Police and federal authorities launched a massive search and interviewed her parents multiple times. They have knocked on hundreds of doors, searched nearby homes and searched area woods multiple times, including with dogs and on horseback.
On Monday, a Clay County grand jury issued subpoenas to all the local network TV affiliates, requesting any raw footage of interviews with missing infant Lisa Irwin's family, friends or neighbors.
(c)2011 The Kansas City Star (Kansas City, Mo.)
Visit The Kansas City Star (Kansas City, Mo.) at www.kansascity.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services