Missing Baby Lisa Update: Parents Keep Hope Alive 5 Years After Disappearance (2024)

  • Crime

Baby Lisa Irwin's parents tell PEOPLE about their continued hopes for a reunion with the 10-month-old who vanished in 2011

ByJeff Truesdell

Published on November 14, 2016 01:00PM EST

Lisa Irwin‘s memory is still ever-present in the north Kansas City, Missouri, home from which she disappeared more than five years ago as a 10-month-old toddler.

This past Halloween her mom, Deborah Bradley, bought Lisa an Elsa costume from the Disney movie Frozen. For Lisa’s last birthday — she would have turned 6 on Nov. 11 — Deborah and Lisa’s father, Jeremy Irwin, planned to buy her a necklace bearing Lisa’s topaz birthstone.

Those presents testify to the parents’ unshakable belief that their daughter was abducted but survives and is waiting to be found and reunited with her family. Indeed, wrapped gifts fill Lisa’s unchanged bedroom, marking every special occasion she has missed with Deborah, Jeremy and big brothers Blake and Michael, now 13 and 11, since she mysteriously vanished from her crib on the night of Oct. 3, 2011.

“No matter where she is right now, she’s still my daughter,” Deborah tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue, of the girl nicknamed “Pumpkin Pie.”

“Just because someone else is raising her until I get her back does not mean that her birthdays and holidays should be missed.”

“I don’t expect other people to understand,” she says. “It’s one of those things where everybody copes differently. My most important thing for her to know when she comes home is she was never forgotten.”

Subscribe now to PEOPLE, or pick up the latest issue, on newsstands now, for updates on the Lisa Irwin investigation.

Missing Baby Lisa Update: Parents Keep Hope Alive 5 Years After Disappearance (1)

Police concede that, despite the hundreds of leads they’ve investigated along with those tips sent to the family’s website, FindLisaIrwin.com, authorities neither have any suspects nor any idea what happened to Lisa.

“As with any case, if we have information that leads us down a certain direction, we will utilize all the resources we had at the very beginning,” Kansas City police Maj. Steve Young tells PEOPLE. “It’s still a case that we care very much about.”

But with no definitive suspects or theories pointing toward a resolution, Lisa’s family is left to find their own ways to keep her in their lives until they have answers.

• For more on this case, watch “What Happened to Baby Lisa?” on our new true crime show, People Magazine Investigates, Nov. 14 (10 p.m. ET) on Investigation Discovery.

“I’ve had a picture of her right by my bed for five years, and even on the rare instances that I’m not home, I still bring one with me or have one on my phone,” says Jeremy, a 34-year-old electrician. “It’s always the last thing I do before I lay down and go to sleep: I tell her good night, and I give her a kiss.”

“I feel like that’s a normal thing that I would absolutely do if she was home,” he tells PEOPLE. “I do it with both of my other boys. It’s just part of keeping her in the daily routine, if you will — just right on the front of your mind. And it helps, because you can’t tell her goodnight or kiss her personally. This is the — I don’t want to say ‘next best thing,’ but the only other option.”

Says Deborah, 30, a stay-at-home mom: “Every single day she is in multiple conversations between me and my boys, between me and Jeremy, whoever I’m with. We’re always talking about her. Obviously any plans you make for the future, she’s in them.”

RELATED VIDEO: What Happened to Baby Lisa? 3 Things to Know About the Case

Cyndy Short, a defense attorney who worked with the Deborah and Jeremy in the early stages of the investigation into Lisa’s disappearance, says she would characterize the couple now as “determined.”

“I think there is hope,” she says. “They’re not giving up.”

“When I saw Deborah recently, and I hadn’t seen her for a long time, what impressed me was how warm she was, how sad she was, how committed she was, how much-loved this little girl that she lost is,” Short says. “As soon as she saw me, she hugged me, she was tearful, she was grateful that I was still willing to speak for her child. There’s just this authenticity, and that’s what I felt from her.”

• Want to keep up with the latest crime coverage? Click here to get breaking crime news, ongoing trial coverage and details of intriguing unsolved cases in the True Crime Newsletter.

Short knows, too, that as the people closest to the missing girl, Lisa’s parents drew initial attention from authorities, who never named them as suspects — but never cleared them. (Deborah and Jeremy have always denied involvement.)

“It’s hard to say that somebody isn’t a suspect when you don’t have any,” Maj. Young says. “But truly, there isn’t anybody that is or isn’t.”

Short says she hopes that investigators have dismissed the idea of Lisa’s parents involvement, both for Deborah and “for her sons.”

“But I don’t know,” she says. “If you’re in law enforcement, you have to keep all avenues open until you have a clear pathway to go down, which they clearly don’t.”

Missing Baby Lisa Update: Parents Keep Hope Alive 5 Years After Disappearance (2)

Deborah and Jeremy still place their faith in police, and they hope someone will recognize Lisa from the age-progressed image created this year by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children to show how Lisa might look now.

“We hope and pray that every time we’re able to get her on TV or someone’s able to do a story about her, that someone will see her picture and call in,” Deborah says.

“Knowing that I will eventually have her home, that gets me out of bed every day,” she says. “That, and my two little boys who still need me. They need us to be strong for them. And so does she. As a parent in this situation, you have to be the strong one for your family. You have to.”

But until that hoped-for reunion, Deborah says, she will keep Lisa’s once-favorite Barney toy by her bedside: “It makes me feel good, just having something of hers close to me.”

People Magazine Investigates airs Mondays (10 p.m. ET) on Investigation Discovery.

Missing Baby Lisa Update: Parents Keep Hope Alive 5 Years After Disappearance (2024)


What happened to the baby Lisa update? ›

Lisa is still missing. As of November 2023, the disappearance of Lisa Irwin has yielded no result, and she hasn't been found alive.

Did they ever find Lisa? ›

In 2022 Detective Superintendent Eamonn Corrigan said: “Despite extensive search operations and thousands of lines of enquiries being completed, Lisa's body has not been found, and those responsible for her murder have not been brought to justice.

Who are baby Lisa's parents? ›

Disappearance of Lisa Irwin
Lisa Irwin
StatusMissing for 12 years, 7 months and 16 days
Parent(s)Deborah Bradley and Jeremy Irwin
3 more rows

Where was Lisa Irwin last seen? ›

Lisa was last seen at about 6 p.m. Oct. 3, 2011, in her home in in the 3600 block of North Lister. She was last known to be wearing purple pants and a purple shirt with kittens on it.

Was baby Sabrina ever found? ›

On Nov. 27, 1997, Sabrina Aisenberg, then 5 months old, vanished from the crib at the home of her parents, Steven and Marlene Aisenberg, of Brandon, Fla. The case has become one of the most high profile unsolved missing baby cases in the United States.

What happened to Lisa Pour? ›

Ms Pour, who would now be 51, was last seen by her probation officer in January 2013. She was reported missing a week later but the case turned into a murder inquiry after police received information detectives say makes them believe it is likely she was killed.

Why was Lisa kidnapped on Last Seen Alive? ›

The beginning scene with Detective Paterson and Knuckles replays as Paterson pushes Knuckles to confess. Finally, Knuckles reveals Lisa is dead and how he had kidnapped her to ransom her off to Will, describing how he'd been forced by Frank to fix his "mistake" and dig a hole to bury her.

How long was Lisa kidnapped? ›

On June 4, 2021, it was released worldwide by Netflix. The film stars Katie Douglas, Rossif Sutherland, and David James Elliott. The film recounts the true story of Lisa McVey who was abducted and raped for 26 hours by serial killer Bobby Joe Long in 1984. The movie length is 1 hour and 45 minutes.

Why did the kidnapper let Lisa go? ›

During her captivity, McVey offered to be his secret girlfriend. She then elicited sympathy from Long by claiming to be the only child of an ill father. He was persuaded to release her and did so in a remote location, instructing her to keep her blindfold on for five minutes while he escaped.

What is Baby Lisa's real name? ›

Lyssa Rae Chapman

Who is Baby Lisa's husband? ›

What happened to baby Lyssa? ›

The 30-year-old reality star, who is also known as Baby Lyssa and worked alongside her dad as a bail bondswoman, is now the owner of a tanning salon in Hawaii. She also has two kids from her previous marriage to Brahman "Bo" Galanti.

Is Baby Lisa found? ›

Lisa Irwin was only 10 months old when she disappeared without a trace from her home in Kansas City, Missouri, in 2011. And despite her tragic story making national headlines as police frantically searched for “Baby Lisa,” after more than a decade, no one has been able to find her.

Which Irwin died? ›

Stephen Robert Irwin (22 February 1962 – 4 September 2006), known as "The Crocodile Hunter", was an Australian zookeeper, conservationist, television personality, wildlife educator, and environmentalist. Irwin grew up around crocodiles and other reptiles and was educated regarding them by his father, Bob.

Where did Steve Irwin get hit? ›

On 4 September 2006, Australian zookeeper, conservationist, and television programmer Steve Irwin was killed by a stingray while filming in the Great Barrier Reef. The stingray's barb pierced his chest, penetrating his thoracic wall and heart, causing massive trauma.

Are Deborah Bradley and Jeremy Irwin married? ›

The couple met at high school and got married shortly after she fell pregnant with their son. Bradley and her current partner Jeremy Irwin have been trying to take themselves out of the media spotlight after they came under increasing suspicion in the disappearance of their daughter.

What happened to Summer Wells? ›

She has been missing since June 15, 2021, and an ongoing statewide Amber Alert is still in effect for her. Wells was first reported missing from her family's home in the Beech Creek community of Hawkins County when she was just five years old.

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