Ten-year-old Lindsey Baum disappeared while on her way home from a friend’s house on June 26, 2009. Many potential suspects have been questioned, but police are no closer to finding out what happened on that fateful day. How can a child so young vanish without a trace in the small town of McCleary, Washington, with a population of 1,500? We uncovered shocking facts about this young girl’s disappearance.
Lindsey was described as a normal, busy child who had dreams of becoming a writer and a veterinarian. She, along with her brother, Josh, and mother, Melissa, had just moved to the area with family hopes of a new start in life after her parents’ divorce.
On the night of her disappearance, June 26, 2009, Lindsey began walking to her friend’s house with her brother. It was a short 10-minute walk. After a verbal spat with Josh, Lindsey continued on alone, while her brother returned home.
She hoped her friend could join her for a sleepover, but when that idea didn’t work out, Lindsey left for home shortly before 9:30 p.m. She never made it there.
Case Theories and Facts
McCleary police, along with the FBI, examined statements, polygraph tests, and surveillance videos from the community. Many theories have been dismissed, while some facts have been substantiated over the years:
- The runaway theory was long ago dismissed, as Lindsey left home without money, extra clothes, or her cell phone. Her mother told police that the young girl was always nervous to be outside after dark.
- As most child disappearances are linked to abduction by a family member, particularly an absent parent, police interviewed Lindsey’s father and other members of her family. Even Melissa Baum was given a polygraph test (she passed). There are no reports linking any family members to her disappearance.
- A stranger abduction is rare in most disappearances involving a child, but as we have seen in the cases of Jaycee Dugard, Adam Walsh, and Elizabeth Smart, they are still possible. In Lindsey’s case, this may actually be the explanation for her disappearance, according to police.
The Search for Suspects
With the runaway theory dismissed and any family members ruled out as suspects in some kind of foul play, the police began to investigate people who fit the “stranger” profile.
Suspicious Events Before Lindsey’s Disappearance
There were two incidents within two weeks before she vanished that had Lindsey express concern to her mother about her safety.
One incident involved a male stranger walking into a women’s public washroom while Lindsey and a friend were inside.
In the other, the two girls believed someone was following them in a white car. Authorities are still searching for the individual driving a white vehicle who was seen in a surveillance video taken in the area and also at the time of Lindsey’s disappearance.
Two persons of interest were interviewed and questioned several times as investigators poked holes in their stories. Both men were found to have fabricated their actions, or to have provided unverifiable facts, at the time Lindsey went missing. No further action was taken by police.
One of the initial suspects was local businessman and EMT Timothy Hartman.
His home and business were searched, with countless items removed by police for further investigation.
Hartman initially told police that he was out of town at the time of the girl’s disappearance, but he was actually seen on a local store’s video surveillance tape around the time Lindsey vanished.
He later recounted his alibi of being on an emergency call out of town, when call logs reviewed by police did not support his claim.
Another alibi he gave, of attending a class in another town, was proven to be false, as the class would have ended earlier than Hartman said it did. Police suggested he would have still had time to return to McCleary at the time of Lindsey’s disappearance.
It was reported that Hartman was given two polygraph tests; one he failed and the other resulted in inconclusive findings.
Hartman has not been arrested or charged, and he maintains his innocence.
A Tip Turns up Different Remains
A report led police to investigate a skull that was found in a crab pot in the ocean near Westport, Washington, 50 miles from McCleary, as having a possible connection to Lindsey’s disappearance.
While the skull turned out to be 2,300 years old, the discovery brought to light several reports of a man allegedly confessing he had information about the hit-and-run of a small girl.
According to the informant, Erwin Bartlett, his friend was intoxicated when he hit a girl and placed her body in his trunk before dumping the body into the ocean. To this date, his story has not been confirmed.
The Emery Brothers
Three brothers from the nearby town of Shelton were investigated in 2017 in relation to Lindsey’s disappearance, after a flier with her physical details was found among a collection of children’s clothes, toys, and illicit material.
Ranging in age 79 to 83, the brothers were charged with child porn possession in August 2017.
An exhaustive investigative search of the family’s properties, using cadaver dogs, did not uncover any other link to Lindsey, aside from the public flier.
The Search for Lindsey Baum Continues
The Baum family is still searching for answers and hoping to bring Lindsey home.
Lindsey Baum would be 19 years old now. She’s described as a white female with brown hair and brown eyes. At the time of her disappearance in 2009, she was 4’9″ and 80 lbs and was wearing a light-blue hoodie, blue jeans, and black slip-on shoes.
Here’s a photo of her that’s been age-progressed to give an idea of what a teenage Lindsey may look like.
According to the Find Lindsey Baum Facebook page, there’s a reward of $35,000 for information leading to the resolution of this case.
If you have any information about this case, please contact your local police department, Crime Stoppers at 1-800-748-6422, or the National Center For Missing & Exploited Children at 1-800-843-5678.