FILE – This file photo provided Oct. 4, 2011, by the Kansas City, Missouri Police Department, shows Lisa Irwin. Police and federal authorities have been searching extensively for Irwin who was 10 months old when her parents reported her missing on Oct. 4, 2011. (AP Photo, Kansas City, Missouri Police Department, File)
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The mother of a missing Kansas City baby said Monday that she was drunk on the night her daughter disappeared, may have blacked out and actually last saw the child hours before the time she originally told police she checked on her.
The revelations came hours before a New York attorney best known for defending Joran Van der Sloot, the Dutch man suspected in the 2005 disappearance of Natalee Holloway in Aruba, said he had been hired to represent parents Deborah Bradley and Jeremy Irwin.
The couple reported their 10-month-old daughter missing Oct. 4 after Irwin returned from working a night shift and found the front door unlocked, the house lights blazing, a window tampered with and the baby gone. Bradley and their two sons were asleep elsewhere in the home.
Bradley told police she last saw her daughter, Lisa Irwin, when she checked on her at 10:30 p.m. But Monday, she told NBC’s “Today” show she actually last saw Lisa when she put her to bed at 6:40 p.m. She gave no explanation for the modified times.
Bradley told Fox News that she got drunk after she put her children to bed that night and may have blacked out. Asked how much she drank that night and whether it was more than five glasses of wine, she responded, “probably.” She said she didn’t have more than 10 glasses. Bradley said she frequently drinks heavily at home but only after her children are safely in bed. She also said she takes anxiety medication and had taken a dose that day.
Bradley told NBC that police accused her of killing Lisa and she believes she will be arrested. But she also insisted again that she had not harmed her daughter.
“No, no … I don’t think alcohol changes a person enough to do something like that,” she said.
She defended her actions when asked on Fox News how she would respond to people critical of her heavy drinking while caring for her children.
“She was sleeping. You know, I don’t see the problem in me having my grown up time,” Bradley said. “I take good care of my kids. I keep my house clean, do their laundry. I kiss their boo-boos. I fix them food. I’m involved in their school stuff. I mean, to me, there’s nothing wrong doing what I want to do after dark.”
FBI agents used tracking dogs Monday to search the family’s house, a home next door and Irwin’s parents’ house. They also drained a creek near Bradley and Irwin’s home in their effort to find the child. There were no immediate reports of what, if anything, they found.
Police have said they have no suspects or major leads even after multiple searches of the family’s neighborhood, nearby wooded areas, a landfill and abandoned homes.
Bradley and Irwin held hands at a Monday afternoon news conference where defense attorney Joe Tacopina announced he was representing them. Tacopina said it was natural for police to focus on the parents.
“The police have to start with the mother and father, they absolutely have to,” he said. “They’re the first people they should look at. But don’t come to a conclusion because there’s no other answers.”
Tacopina refused to say who was paying him, only saying he had been hired to counsel the parents through the investigation. He insisted they “have nothing to hide.”
“I don’t recall in recent history anyone under this umbrella of suspicion be so open and forthright, warts and all, regarding the events,” Tacopina said.
Sean O’Brien, an associate professor of law at University of Missouri-Kansas City, said the parents made a good decision in hiring a lawyer and likely should have done so earlier given what Bradley has said about police accusing her of being involved in the baby’s disappearance.
“When the questioning becomes accusatory … it’s time to shut up and lawyer up,” O’Brien said. But he said police also remain the family’s “best hope” of finding the baby “so she wants to continue to cooperate.”
Bradley told NBC she is scared her arrest would essentially end the police search and Lisa would never be found.
“If they arrest me, people are going to stop looking for her and I’ll never know what happened,” Bradley said.
She also said her two sons, ages 6 and 8, say they heard noises the night Lisa disappeared, but she doesn’t know whether they heard noises before they went to sleep or later in the night and she doesn’t want them involved in the investigation. The boys have been made available to police for interviews, Tacopina said.