UPDATE: A Washington State Patrol airplane is coordinating efforts with ground searchers today in McCleary as the investigation of 10-year-old Lindsey Baum's disappearance continues, said Grays Harbor County Undersheriff Rick Scott.
Baum disappeared at around 9:15 p.m. on Friday as she embarked alone on about a half-mile walk from a friend's on Maple Street to her home on Mommsen Road.
Scott said today that investigators still don't have concrete evidence she was abducted.
About 30 ground searchers and 30 law enforcement officials were working on Lindsey's disappearance, he said. Scott said the State Patrol airplane will help search some of the heavily forested areas north, south and east of McCleary. Detectives are continuing to canvass the town, going door to door talking to residents, he said. They're also locating and interviewing sex offenders with ties to McCleary, he said.
Scott said he'll have an update on the investigation by the end of the day. So far, investigators have no evidence or information that has narrowed the search, he said.
Anyone with information on Baum's disappearance should call the Grays Harbor County 911 center at 360-533-8765 or 1-866-8299.
MCCLEARY – Police in this community of about 1,500 had no leads Monday on what happened to 10-year-old Lindsey Baum after she left her friend’s house on Maple Street by herself Friday evening to walk about a half-mile to her home on Mommsen Road.
On the third day of a massive search for the girl, a National Guard helicopter and a team of about 20 search-and-rescue officials, including dog teams, scoured the town. Members of the Thurston County Sheriff’s Dive Team also joined the search, looking in creeks and ponds, to no avail.
The mother of Lindsey’s 10-year-old best friend said Lindsey’s disappearance hasn’t really sunk in for her daughter.
“I don’t think she quite understands the seriousness of it,” said Kara Kempen on Monday in front of her home.
The last person to see Lindsey was a resident driving through town who saw her walking on Maple Street between Fifth and Sixth streets around 9:15 p.m. – about the halfway point between the two homes, Scott said. People said light was waning but the sun hadn’t gone down.
Lindsey was wearing a gray or blue hooded pullover shirt and blue jeans. Investigators have reviewed surveillance video from the downtown Shell Station that Lindsey would have walked by on the way to Mommsen Road, but it turned up nothing, Scott said. Detectives are waiting for additional video surveillance from local businesses.
Lindsey left her cell phone at home before leaving to play with friends Friday, said Grays Harbor Undersheriff Rick Scott. Lindsey’s older brother had left the Maple Street residence before his sister after the two had a dispute over the bike Lindsey had borrowed from him that day – a common occurrence between frequently squabbling siblings, Scott added.
Kempen said her daughter Michaela had spent Friday with Lindsey and a group of other girls, swimming at a friend’s pool before they returned to the home on Maple Street. Kempen said her daughter and Lindsey were “almost inseparable” and loved to spend time together talking about “10-year-old girl stuff, boys and music, school occasionally.”
Kempen described Lindsey as a “chatterbox.” “She’s very, very talkative,” Kempen said. “One of those girls who only takes a breath when she absolutely has to.”
Linda Cunningham, owner of McCleary Video, said she remembers Lindsey coming into her store with a group of friends to rent movies around 8:15 Friday night. “They were all laughing and joking and having a good time.”
Cunningham called Lindsey “a smart little girl.”
“I just don’t see her willingly getting in a stranger’s car,” Cunningham said. “She’s too smart for that.”
Sgt. Jim Dunn of the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office said Monday afternoon that there are still bodies of water that the dive team has not checked, including swamps southwest of town.
Scott said 25 law enforcement officers, including the agents from Seattle, were participating in the investigation.
Scott said investigators can’t rule out the possibility that Baum was abducted, or that she may have simply run off. He said investigators are desperately trying to find information that can narrow their search. “We don’t have a most-likely scenario at this point,” he said.
SEARCH SO FAR
At the command center Monday at the McCleary Police Department, a binder of mugshots belonging to Grays Harbor sex offenders was earmarked with pieces of paper to show offenders with a registered address in McCleary. A sheet of citizen interviews from a neighborhood canvass was stacked on the counter.
Scott said investigators are still following up by interviewing not only sex offenders who live in town, but transient sex offenders and offenders who have connections to McCleary. So far none of those interviews has yielded any concrete leads, he said.
Investigators have taken Lindsey’s computer into evidence, Scott added. Police have checked her MySpace page and the phone numbers she dialed and received on her cell phone without finding any new leads, he said.
A search of Lindsey’s MySpace page showed only the typical postings of a 10-year-old girl, things that showed her affinity for the movie “Twilight,” Scott said.
“Lindsey’s a very outgoing, very independent girl,” Scott said. “She’s socially active in her peer group.”
Scott said detectives have contacted Lindsey’s father in Tennesee, and there are no custodial issues between him and Lindsey’s mother, Melissa Baum. There is no reason to believe he had anything to do with Lindsey’s disappearance, Scott said.
Lindsey turns 11 on July 7, Scott said.
Police did not issue an Amber Alert for Lindsey after her mother reported her missing at 10:50 p.m. Friday, Scott said. Scott said an Amber Alert wasn’t issued because police had – and still have – no evidence that she was abducted.
The search for Lindsey continues today, Scott said. “We’ve been working everybody until the early evenings to the point of exhaustion,” Scott added.
Scott said “there hasn’t been a case like this for years anywhere in the county.”
Melissa Fulton, a McCleary hair stylist, said many local residents feel comfortable letting their children play outside or ride bikes around town until dark.
Said Cunningham at the DVD rental store, “I think that’s changed today. As of now I just think everybody’s had the biggest rude awakening of their lives.”
Jeremy Pawloski, 360-754-5465