2009.07.03 Today's Current News - ***NO DISCUSSIONS HERE PLEASE ***

“I will find my daughter”
Sunday, August 2, 2009 1:14 AM PDT
From the front step of her nearby home, Melissa Baum can almost see its intersection with Fifth Street where her 11-year-old daughter took her last known steps into oblivion.

“I feel like she’s right under my nose and I can’t find her,” she said.

Baum sat on her front step earlier this week, staring eastward toward Maple Street with the faint plinking of wind chimes behind her. She lit a cigarette.

“It’s really frustrating,” she said.

But as the weeks have stretched, many of the search teams went home, taking their planes, dogs and orange vests. Lindsey’s 11th birthday passed without word of her fate. Lindsey’s father returned to Tennessee. McCleary businesses who changed their reader boards to signs of support have changed them back to the daily specials.

The shadow of the unknown remains, filling the streets like the droning hum of the Simpson mill.

“The streets are quiet,” she said, “almost deserted now compared to what they were a month ago.”

Grays Harbor Sheriff’s Detective Polly Davin now spends most of her time about 16 miles away in a small Montesano office, filled with files, in-boxes and phones. A couple computers hum on the desktop.

Davin shares the office with a handful of sheriff’s detectives and FBI agents still dedicated to the case full-time. Other investigators come and go as necessary.

The core investigators — Davin, Keith Peterson and Ed McGowan — have a good balance of temperaments and perspectives. They will often sit over meals and try to sort through different aspects of the case as a group.

“We haven’t given up,” she said.

Despite the setbacks, Scott said the case remains the office’s highest priority. Investigators will do whatever is necessary to bring Lindsey back to her family.

Melissa Baum said the anxiety hits her at night when the air quiets and she runs out of tasks to keep herself distracted.

“I cry myself to sleep begging and praying for the Lord to lead me to my daughter,” she said. “Every night I lay down with the hope that it will be tonight that they come pounding on my door at 3 a.m. and hand her to me, but every night it gets harder and harder.”

Baum said she and her 12-year-old son, Josh, will sit down at night to watch a movie and feel overwhelmed by Lindsey’s absence.

During the first two weeks, she almost never left home for fear she would miss a phone call. She now tries to stay busy throughout the day by posting fliers, often replacing old black-and-white versions with color posters. She talks to investigators and tries to make sure Josh has things to keep his mind occupied.

“He’s having a difficult time,” Baum said. “He’s angry. He misses his sister a lot. He’s wanting to go out and find whoever has her.”

She struggles with wondering how the investigation is going. She calls daily for updates on the case.

“I’m just at that point where I’m having a really difficult time sitting back and trusting them to do it,” she said. “I have tried really hard from the beginning to just stay out of their way.

“I can’t believe that nobody knows anything,” she said. “They just need to come forward. They need to re-evaluate their morality and put my little girl first.”

After five weeks, yellow police tape still hangs over Lindsey’s door. Hand-written signs of support still hang in the windows of the house. Log trucks still slowly roll past Maple Street.

“She’s an 11-year-old little girl with her whole life ahead of her,” Baum said. “I will find her because I won’t stop. I’ll never stop. I will find my daughter.”

Lindsey Baum’s mother, Melissa, looks down the street from her McCleary home almost five weeks after 11-year-old Lindsey disappeared on the short walk home.