Baby Lisa Irwin has been missing for two months, but the one-year-old's parents, Deborah Bradley and Jeremy Irwin, continue to maintain that their daughter was kidnapped. Bradley and Irwin have come under fire for failure to cooperate with the Kansas City police department, sparking suspicions that baby Lisa might be dead or that the parents might have been involved.
In addition to questions surrounding the parents, the Kansas City police department has begun to shift their focus away from baby Lisa's case. Last week, authorities closed their outpost focused on finding the one-year-old. Capt. Steve Young insists that police are still looking for the missing child, however he says the department needs to focus their resources on other child abuse and neglect cases that have been filed.
An unlikely source has created a stir for volunteers and civilians dedicated to finding baby Lisa as police attention wanes: psychics.
A Dallas psychic, Stephanie Almaguer, made claims on her blog that the missing one-year-old died accidentally in her home and was then dumped in an area resembling the Kansas City location.
The self-proclaimed psychic claims she had a vision that Lisa Irwin was buried by a river and a tower. She then posted a drawing of what she saw in her vision. Locals identified parts of the drawing as the region surrounding Sam's Town Casino at Interstate 435 and Highway 210, reported KCTV 5.
Kansas City Police Capt. Steve Young told KCTV 5 that the police were aware of Almaguer's reported visions and that, in fact, authorities have been contacted by numerous psychics. However, he claims the information has not been useful and police would not search the former Sam's Town Casino.
While police refused to pursue the lead, the public and media sources were quick to consider the tip. Megyn Kelly of Fox News invited Almaguer onto her show in order to discuss her psychic ability prior to the abandoned casino's search.
However, on Dec. 4, when 25 volunteers gathered to search the region, no new evidence was found, as police expected.
The failure of psychics, like Almaguer, to accurately provide information to police calls into question why they repeatedly turn up in the cases of missing people reports. If psychics tend to be unreliable, why do people continue to listen, trust and follow them? Has the seeming hopelessness of Lisa's case lead to the acceptance of all, and any, possible sources of information? Or, is there something greater?
Benjamin Radford, a columnist for Skeptical Inquirer, is critical of psychic powers. Radford claims that the rough sketch drawn by Almaguer and posted on her website was vague enough that it could have matched hundreds of places in Missouri. In fact, he claims that it was viewers of the blog post who saw Sam's Town casino in the sketch and decided the location matched closely enough.
While Almaguer continues to defend her vision, Bradford says she could be a fraud.
There is not a single documented case of a missing person being found or recovered due to psychic information, he writes.
In an effort to defend her self-proclaimed skills, Almaguer has agreed to participate in the Million Dollar Psychic Challenge run by The James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF). The Challenge offers $1 million to celebrity psychic mediums if they can prove their abilities in controlled experiments. Psychics have failed to find a number of missing persons and the Challenge is meant to find scientific prove proving or denying the existence of psychic powers.
In a post agreeing to the challenge, Almaguer stated, Fine. I'm submitting for that challenge. That being said, win or lose, I don't think anyone - even the greatest, would ever win, and not because they have no ability, but for different reasons - which I will just keep to myself. But why not go for it?
Ultimately, when Almaguer and other psychics fail to provide productive information, police resources and time are wasted pursuing false leads. In fact, in time sensitive situations, psychics can be more of a distraction than assistance.
For now, the case of missing baby Lisa remains a mystery that began when Lisa's father, Jeremy Irwin, returned home on Oct. 4 after working overtime, to find the door open, the lights in his house on, windows tampered with and his daughter missing. Three cell phones were reportedly missing as well. Lisa's mother, Deborah Bradley, had allegedly put her daughter to sleep around 6:30 p.m. and proceeded to drink five to ten glasses of wine before passing out around 10:30 p.m. Since Oct. 4, authorities have scoured the surrounding area following all major tips and leads, but they have found no signs of baby Lisa.