KANSAS CITY (AP) – The family of a missing Missouri baby reached out to tens of thousands of NASCAR fans on Sunday, hoping to spur efforts to locate the child as investigators sifted through hundreds of tips that so far have led them to dead ends.
Ten-month-old Lisa Irwin hasn’t been seen in nearly a week. Her parents reported her missing early Tuesday, saying she was snatched sometime overnight from their home in Kansas City, Mo.
Her aunt, Ashley Irwin, handed out thousands of flyers in a parking lot at Kansas Speedway during Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup race. She has been trying to raise awareness about her niece’s disappearance, from prayer vigils to online social media, and said targeting the 80,000 fans attending the race would help.
“There are so many people here from so many states, it seemed like a good idea,” the 27-year-old said as she and four friends passed out flyers that included a photo of Lisa in a pink ballerina outfit and details about her disappearance.
Investigators have said they have no solid leads or suspects in the case despite an extensive search of the family’s quiet neighborhood, including their home and neighbors’ houses, along with nearby woods, sewers and a Kansas landfill.
Lisa’s parents, Jeremy Irwin and Deborah Bradley, spoke with detectives late Saturday, police spokesman Capt. Steve Young said Sunday. Young wouldn’t say how long investigators interviewed the couple, but he did say police were pleased the parents were meeting with them.
Police said late Thursday that the couple had stopped cooperating, but the family quickly denied the claim, saying they simply needed a break that night from police questioning.
“We’re glad that we’re talking again,” Young said Sunday. “It’s the best thing for the investigation.”
Young said there have been no new developments in the case but police are still receiving and following up on tips. At least 200 have come in so far, though none has yet to give investigators a solid lead.
Ashley Irwin set up a table in a Kansas Speedway parking lot that was filled with cars with license plates from as far away as Alaska and Washington. She and her friends handed out fliers to anyone who would take them, some people nodding as they read the information.
Despite the extensive media coverage, some fans hadn’t heard about her missing niece, she said. But others were aware and told her they appreciated her work, “which was nice to hear,” Irwin said.
Mary Scott, 62, of Council Bluffs, Iowa, was sitting in the parking lot with friends before race time and said the Speedway was probably a good place to reach out.
“You got thousands and thousands of people who will be searching for her with this crowd,” Scott said. “NASCAR fans are all hometown people … They are the kind of people who will pay attention and call if they see anything.”
Fellow race goer Mark Carlson, of nearby Overland Park, Kan., said he had seen media coverage of the case and had mixed emotions.
“You see previous cases in the past years, and you don’t know what to think,” he said. “It’s a `he said, she said’ issue.”
But he thought handing out flyers at the Speedway was a great idea, saying: “There are a lot of people who aren’t from our area who will see it now.”
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press