Preliminary Hearing for Missing Toddler's Grandmother

Preliminary Hearing for Missing Toddler's Grandmother

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BOISE, Idaho (AP) -- As the scaled-back search for a missing toddler's body continued on Tuesday, prosecutors were planning to argue that the child's mentally ill grandmother should be tried for murder.

Bonneville County Prosecutor Dane Watkins Jr. said finding the body of 19-month-old Acacia Patience Bishop would boost his case and help the child's parents, who are keeping hope that the girl is alive.

"We believe there was a homicide," Watkins said. "But finding a body gives everyone involved, especially the family, a sense of closure."

The family is offering a $10,000 reward for Acacia's safe return.

The grandmother, Kelley Jean Lodmell, 38, was scheduled to appear before Magistrate L. Mark Riddoch Tuesday afternoon for a preliminary hearing. Riddoch will determine whether she should stand trial for first-degree murder and kidnapping.

Investigators claim Lodmell jumped into the Snake River on Memorial Day to kill herself and the child.

Lodmell brought her granddaughter to Idaho Falls a day earlier after taking the child from a relative's home in Salt Lake County. The great-grandparents were baby-sitting while Acacia's parents were attending a wedding rehearsal dinner.

Lodmell was limited to only supervised visits but apparently took the child while the great-grandparents -- Lodmell's parents -- were briefly gone from the room.

Lodmell and the child spent the night in an Idaho Falls motel. Police said a witness saw the two of them the next morning in a downtown riverside park just above a municipal power plant.

Shortly after noon, a soaking-wet Lodmell told a power plant employee that a child had fallen into the river. The power turbine was shut down immediately, but days of searching by divers yielded no sign of the child.

Lodmell talked with police for hours, her story reportedly changing over time. But based on the interviews and other evidence, investigators concluded she had attempted a murder-suicide.

The U.S. Attorney's office in Utah was monitoring the case pending possible federal charges against Lodmell.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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