The Mystery of What Happened to Baby Lisa Irwin Continues to Haunt Us 8 Years Later

Amber Garrett - Author

Apr. 29 2020, Updated 3:26 p.m. ET

what happened to baby lisa irwin
Source: Deborah Bradley/Wikimedia Commons

Unsolved crimes are always unsettling, but that's especially true when the victim is a young child. For eight years, the family of Lisa Irwin have sought answers to what happened to their baby who was snatched away just a few weeks before her first birthday. While the investigation has largely centered on the parents themselves, Deborah Bradley and Jeremy Irwin, the parents insist their daughter was kidnapped. Are we any closer in 2020 to finding out what happened to baby Lisa Irwin?

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What happened to baby Lisa Irwin on the night she disappeared?

According to Bradley and Irwin, they discovered Lisa missing when Jeremy Irwin came home from work around 4:00 a.m. on Oct. 4, 2011 and found many lights on inside the home and the door unlocked while his wife was asleep in their room. They also said three cell phones that had been in the home were missing. Though the parents initially cooperated with detectives, they pulled back as the investigation centered on them, as it often does in a case where a young child is missing or found dead under suspicious circumstances.

baby lisa irwin parents
Source: KCTV5
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The couple has denied having anything to do with their daughter's disappearance, and two witnesses in the neighborhood reported seeing a man holding a baby with no clothes walking the streets in the middle of the night. Police brought in a man fitting their description but neither witness positively IDed the man as the one they saw. Bradley says she put Lisa to bed in a purple t-shirt and shorts, and a dumpster that had been set on fire not far from the home was revealed to contain, among other charred items, some baby clothes.

Police also brought in cadaver dogs that positively IDed the scent of human remains at the foot of Irwin and Bradley's bed, but the rug was intact. Though studies show well-trained cadaver dogs deployed by experienced police are 95 percent accurate, they do make mistakes.

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Where does the investigation into Lisa Irwin's disappearance stand today?

There have been few new leads since the week following Lisa's disappearance. Near the 2-year anniversary in 2013, an abducted girl found in Greece was thought to have possibly been the missing Irwin baby, but DNA tests later determined the girl's mother was a woman of Bulgarian Roma descent who had given up the child when she was unable to afford to care for her. 

lisa irwin age progression
Source: National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
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In 2019, an updated, age-progressed photo of Lisa was released to show how she would look at age 9, and a $100,000 reward, donated by an anonymous benefactor, still remains for anyone who can provide information leading to her whereabouts.

While investigators remain skeptical of a stranger abduction, Bradley stills believe their daughter was abducted and alive. "There’s not a doubt in my mind, and I’m her mom. I obviously I have my mother’s intuition, and I have never once felt for a second that she has been hurt or gone," she told KCTV in 2016.

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