Cops' Search in Lindsey Baum Case Comes Up Empty

Police served warrants on possible suspect, found nothing linking him to girl.

June 30, 2009, 12:22 PM

Oct. 4, 2009— -- Volunteers gathered in McCleary, Wash., this weekend to hunt for any trace of Lindsey Baum, the 11-year-old girl who has been missing for more than three months. Police acknowledged they are looking for new leads after a search failed to link a possible suspect to the girl's disappearance.

"There was no evidence that clearly indicated that the people and the individual we were looking at had anything to do with her disappearance," Undersheriff Rick Scott, of the Grays Harbor County Sheriff's Department, one of the agencies investigating the girl's disappearance, told "Having served these warrants, we found nothing, so we're pursuing other leads."

The affidavit for the warrants, which were released Friday and were served on Sept. 25, indicated that there were discrepancies in the alibi of the person police were looking at, a man who works at a retirement home near where Lindsey, who should have started sixth grade this fall, was last seen.

According to the affidavit, from Grays Harbor County Sheriff's Department Det. Matt Organ, police originally wanted to talk to the man because a person called and said his car, a small white sports car with a loud exhaust, was seen in the area the night of Lindsey's disappearance and then was not seen around for several days afterwards, which the tipster considered suspicious.

When police contacted the possible suspect, according to the affidavit, he told them he was working a second job at a youth camp that night, but a supervisor at the camp told police he was in fact not there and had been suspended two weeks earlier.

Police also became suspicious when they spoke to a former girlfriend of the man, who told them that the day after Lindsey's disappearance he said he was very concerned that something like that could happen in the town, the affidavit said.

Sibling Squabble Separated Lindsey From Her Brother Night of Disappearance

The man allegedly told the woman "he could not believe that a girl had been taken and cut up and dismembered," the affidavit said.

At that point, however, police were still treating the disappearance as a missing person case and had said nothing about suspecting foul play, according to the affidavit.

The man was the most recent in a series of people who police have looked closely at in the case, Scott said.

"There's been a lot of different people who had our attention and might have been called persons of interest," he said. "It might have been a matter of hours or a matter of days. The case where we served these warrants was just like that, but after having looked at what was found, we are pursuing other leads."

Lindsey disappeared the evening of June 26, somewhere along the 10-minute walk down a densely populated suburban street between her house and a friend's.

Lindsey's mother, Melissa Baum, told days after the disappearance that she last saw her daughter when Lindsey, along with her 12-year-old brother, Josh, headed out to Lindsey's friend's house in hopes she could get permission to spend the night at the Baum's house.

Baum said her children began squabbling over the use of Josh's bike on the way there and were stopped by a family friend who sent Josh home to end the argument. Lindsey continued on to her friend's house. When Lindsey's friend found out she couldn't stay the night, Lindsey headed for home around 9:30 p.m.

"When she wasn't home by 10, I started to get nervous," Baum said, adding that 10 p.m. is the curfew for her children.

She began calling Lindsey's cell phone, only to find that her daughter had left it plugged into the charger. Initially thinking that her daughter must have met up with friends in the neighborhood, Baum set out on foot to find her.

Lindsey Last Spotted Mere Blocks From Her Home at 9:30 p.m.

But there was no sign of her. Eventually, her friend's parents joined the search by car. Baum even let her daughter's beloved German shepherd, Kadence, off its leash in hopes the dog would help find her. Finally, around 10:45 p.m., Baum said she called the police.

At the time, Scott said there were a few businesses located just off the street Lindsey would have used to get home, and while the girl did not appear in any of the videos, police received clues about who was in the area at the time she disappeared.

Scott said witnesses were able to put Lindsey within a couple of blocks of her house just after 9:30 p.m. The last person reported to have seen her, he said, was a neighbor on her way to work.

Baum described her daughter as outgoing, talkative and mature for her age. She loved to read and write, and had big plans for her future.

"She insisted when she grows up she's going to be an author and an illustrator and a veterinarian," Baum said.

Lindsey was 10 at the time she disappeared, and her mother said she was looking forward to celebrating her 11th birthday July 7.

At the search headquarters Friday, Baum told ABC News Seattle affiliate KOMO-TV that she became hopeful after learning police have a person of interest.

"I'm hoping they'll find her and give her back," she said.

Volunteers from McCleary and all over the region came to join the most recent search, which began Friday and continued through today.

"I can easily imagine how how hard it is, and this is the least I can do," Jen Page, a mother who drove 90 miles to help look for Lindsey, told KOMO-TV.

Scott said that though police have kept their efforts separate from the volunteers', investigators welcome the help.

"We're encouraging everyone, hunters in the woods, to have their head on the swivle to look for evidence of Lindsey and her disappearance," he said. "We're at the same time continuing our criminal investigation."