Search for Toddler to Continue for Several Days

Search for Toddler to Continue for Several Days

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BOISE, Idaho (AP) -- Authorities will continue their search for the body of 19-month-old Acacia Patience Bishop for at least several more days, police said Wednesday evening.

Investigators believe the toddler drowned in the Snake River during a murder-suicide attempt by her mentally ill grandmother.

Search for Toddler to Continue for Several Days

"We don't have any plans to quit," said Idaho Falls police Sgt. Steve Hunt. "We evaluate it on a day-by-day basis, and when we get to the point that we think any further search will be fruitless then we'll stop. We're going to keep doing it until we feel like we've done all we can do."

Though search dogs along the bank have alerted in several areas -- indicating they picked up a scent -- no sign of the child has been found, Hunt said. The dogs may have been confused by the scent of muskrats that live along the river, he said.

The search effort has expanded, encompassing a two- to three-mile stretch of river, said Hunt.

"Now they are over the dam into the main body of the Snake River. The visibility still isn't great, and the rapids are faster, making recovery work more difficult," Hunt said.

Adam Bishop, Acacia's father, said he and the infant's mother still believed the toddler was alive.

"There's still the possibility that we're going to find her," Bishop said. "We're not leaving Idaho Falls until we leave with her."

Search for Toddler to Continue for Several Days

Kelley Jean Lodmell, 38, described by police as a transient and a paranoid schizophrenic, was charged with murder during her initial court appearance Tuesday.

Baby shoes, a doll and one of the woman's shoes were found on the platform where Lodmell said she and the child fell in while dangling their feet in the water, police said. The woman's other shoe was found in the river.

Lodmell was arrested Monday afternoon after she ran to a hydropower plant downstream and told an employee that the girl had fallen into the water. Ken Lawson, dispatch supervisor with Idaho Falls Power, called police and the power plant was immediately shut down.

Police say Lodmell took Acacia from her great-grandparents' home in Salt Lake County, Utah, on Sunday evening. A national Amber Alert for the pair was issued early Monday.

Dick Lodmell, Kelley Lodmell's father, was headed Wednesday afternoon to be with the family in Idaho Falls. He said he was more concerned about his granddaughter Casey Lodmell than his daughter Kelley Lodmell.

Search for Toddler to Continue for Several Days

Kelley Lodmell had been diagnosed several years ago as a schizophrenic, and claimed there were "things in the television set that could take her picture," Dick Lodmell said.

About the murder charge against his daughter, he said, "We didn't think she'd do that, but somebody that sick, you never know what they're going to do."

A combination of interviews and physical evidence secured during searches of Kelley Lodmell's hotel room in Idaho Falls and her car led to the murder charge, Bonneville County Prosecutor Dane Watkins Jr. said. He refused to discuss specifics about the evidence.

Lodmell had stopped taking medication for her illness, according to her daughter Casey Lodmell, who is Acacia's mother. The daughter said her mother had wanted the little girl for herself.

Last year, Kelley Lodmell took Acacia for half an hour before relatives found them, Salt Lake County sheriff's spokeswoman Peggy Faulkner said. No charges were filed. Since then, Acacia had only had supervised visits with her grandmother, she said.

Magistrate L. Mark Riddoch ordered Lodmell held without bond in the Bonneville County Jail at least until her June 10 preliminary hearing. She was appointed a public defender.

Lodmell sat passively during the brief hearing, offering mostly one-word answers to routine court questions.

Federal prosecutors in Salt Lake City are also considering federal charges against Lodmell.

"Certainly there are potential kidnapping charges because of the nature of the offense -- taking an individual from one state to another," said Richard Lambert, criminal division chief for U.S. Attorney Paul Warner.

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

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