Renewed effort in search for girl

McCleary – Teams of volunteers inspected roadsides, wooded areas and creeks Saturday as part of the ongoing effort to find Lindsey Baum, the 11-year-old McCleary girl who disappeared the evening of June 26.

Saturday was the second consecutive day in which volunteers fanned out into outlying areas and neighboring towns, hoping to find clues. The search continues today.

At the request of Lindsey’s mother, Melissa, two nonprofit groups – the Laura Recovery Center of Friendswood, Texas, and Klaaskids Foundation of Sausalito, Calif. – organized the search. Both groups have been involved in high-profile missing-child cases before, including the disappearances of Elizabeth Smart of Utah and Elaine Sepulveda of Oak Harbor.

About 120 people searched Friday, and about 40 people had taken part before noon Saturday, said Brad Dennis, director of search operations for the Klaaskids Foundation. The search is being staged from the McCleary Community Center, and although organizers have enough volunteers to handle administrative duties, they need more searchers, Dennis said.

“We need people to come out and be a part of this,” he said.

Baum disappeared about 9:15 p.m. June 26 as she embarked alone on about a half-mile walk from a friend’s house on Maple Street to her home on Mommsen Road. Her mother, who moved to McCleary from Lacey about two years ago, said Saturday that she is doing all she can so her daughter won’t be forgotten, such as putting up flyers and making buttons with Lindsey’s picture. She thinks her daughter is alive, although “getting through the nights” is the hardest part, she said.

“My main focus is just finding her and then we can deal with the rest,” Melissa Baum said.

Volunteers who showed up Saturday were separated into groups. Team leaders were selected and groups were given directions on how and where to search. The team leaders also were provided with global positioning systems to note the locations of their searches, as well as clipboards with paper so they could jot down possible clues.

Patty Thorsen and Judy Enz of Olympia, plus team leader Mike Davis of Gig Harbor, spent about an hour exploring Niels Lane, a rock-covered road that overlooks state Route 8 about 4 miles west of McCleary. All three decided to volunteer because they are parents, but Thorsen and Davis also were moved by Melissa Baum’s story after hearing her interviewed on a Seattle radio station. Mike said the combination of listening to Melissa Baum and hearing news about Jaycee Dugard, the California woman recently discovered after she was missing for 18 years, prompted him to act.

“I said, ‘Well, I can give up a Saturday,’” he said. Davis, too, has five children, including three girls.

All three got into his truck, drove to the end of the road and then worked their way back, stopping frequently to look down hillsides, peer into the woods and inspect roadside debris. The three also discovered a black garbage bag filled with clothes, including a pair of denim jeans, the same kind of clothes Lindsey last was seen wearing. After that discovery, it was determined that the clothes and trash likely belonged to a transient and not Lindsey, although Dennis praised the group’s efforts in finding the bag.

Davis marked the site with orange fabric so investigators could inspect the site. Once volunteers return to the community center, they are debriefed and their information is shared with law enforcement, Dennis said.

Rolf Boone: 360-754-5403