April 02, 2022
Warning: Mention of child abuse and sexual assault, reader discretion is advised.
Lindsey Baum was just 10 days shy of her 11th birthday when she went missing on June 26, 2009. It was a balmy summer evening and Lindsey was walking home from a friend’s place on Maple Street in rural McCleary, Washington when she disappeared.
Maple street was just a few blocks from the family home. The Baum family, a small unit comprised of Lindsey, her brother Joshua, and her mother Melissa, had moved there following Melissa Baum’s split from her husband. The three relocated from Tennessee to the small, sparsely populated area of McCleary with the hope of a fresh start out in a safe and quiet corner of Washington.
The night Lindsey went missing, she and her brother were walking to their friend Mikayla’s house when the brother and sister got into a spat over a bicycle. The argument resulted in the pair going their separate ways, Joshua returned home while Lindsey continued to Mikayla’s house. The girls played together until night-time and Lindsey asked her friend’s mother if she could stay over that night. Mikayla’s mother denied the request and sent Lindsey on her way to walk the four blocks back to her own home.
She would never be seen again.
By the time 11:00pm rolled around Melissa was sick with worry. She called the police who quickly responded, and a search of the local and extended area was soon underway.
Missing posters describing Lindsey were posted up around the area and residents were told to keep their eyes open for a Caucasian female child, 4ft 9 with brown eyes and hair, wearing a light blue hooded sweatshirt and blue jeans.
Officers and volunteers checked nearby bodies of water and the surrounding forests to no avail. They searched by land and air but still found no trace of the missing girl. As hours turned into days, they brought cadaver dogs to search, but they too could find no lead. It was as if Lindsey Baum had dropped off the face of the Earth.
Melissa put out emotional pleas to Lindsey to return but Lindsey never came home.
Authorities believed she was abducted but with no leads to investigate they were at a loss. They ruled out the theory that Lindsey was a run-away as she had neglected to take any personal items with her, including a cell phone she had recently been gifted by her mother.
“There’s no one piece of evidence that points to an investigative path or scenario that says, well, we know that she was a victim of an abduction by a family member or an acquaintance” Sheriff Rick Scott of the Gray’s Harbor County stated at a conference about the case.
In September 2017 hunters discovered a piece of skull in a remote part of Kittitas County, Washington. Kittitas County is over 140 miles from McCleary from where the 10-year-old went missing. The following year in May 2018, Gray’s Harbor County Sheriff’s Office was alerted by the FBI informing them that the skull fragment was a DNA match to Lindsay Baum. The area was combed for evidence, but the search did not turn up anything else related to the crime. Melissa Baum petitioned for the area to be searched again, however, the County Sheriff’s office declined, insisting that their initial search was thorough.
“Monsters don’t just do this once and stop-especially when they get away with it for so long. So, I’m not only tormented constantly, daily, nightly, by all the horrific things that may have happened to my 10-year-old child, but what are they doing to other children and getting away with?” Melissa told media outlets in support of her proposal to conduct another search.
Police conducted many interviews over the years and subjected around 50 individuals to lie detector tests but no suspect in Lindsey's abduction was ever identified.
Tim Hartman, the owner of a local jewellery repair store and volunteer firefighter in McCleary, was questioned by investigators in 2012 after CCTV footage of him entering a local store around the time Lindsey went missing became an interest to police. Hartman lied in a statement regarding his whereabouts on the night Lindsey went missing, an honest mistake he later claimed. Although he said he wasn't in McCleary, it turned out he had been part of the search party looking for the missing child. He returned home, he said, only to come back out at around 1am as he claimed he couldn’t sleep. While out he bumped into Melissa, who was still searching for her daughter, and accompanied her to the local creek to look.
In 2017 one of Lindsey’s missing flyers was discovered in the home of three elderly brothers Edwin Emery, 78, Thomas Emery, 80, and Charles Emery, 82. The brothers had been arrested on charges of possession of child pornography and sexual abuse, including the abuse of female members of their own family across generations. Charles Emery, the eldest of the brothers, was employed as a janitor at a local children’s hospital. The three brothers resided together in a small house in Seattle and had lived together for over five decades. As children they had abused a female family member who was eventually taken into care. They abused another female family member and later the female family member’s daughter.
When the house was searched police discovered a disturbing and sickening collection of images of female children being sexually abused, children’s clothing including used underwear, toys, shoes, and writing describing the sexual abuse of children, including ritualistic and Satanic sacrifices of minor children. Police found multiple pairs of children’s loafer shoes as well as written descriptions of abuse involving children wearing the specific type of shoe. Inside of the shoes they found a miniature bottle of vodka with the note: "S.K.'s first half ounce of liquor came from this bottle." The brothers would spike soda with alcohol before they abused the children. Reports state that years before the arrest one of the brothers handed their personal computer into a store to be fixed resulting in the discovery of child pornography, however, he was not reported or charged at the time.
The brothers were eventually charged for child pornography but unfortunately could not be charged with the sexual abuse of the female family members as the statue of limitations had passed.
Although police instantly suspected the brothers of being involved in Lindsey Baum’s disappearance, as they only lived around 30 minutes from McCleary and had a missing poster in their possession, there was not sufficient evidence to arrest the brothers for involvement.
Twelve years after Lindsey Baum's disappearance police are now investigating the man responsible for the kidnapping and rape of a 17-year-old girl in Washington in 2003. The girl was abducted as she pulled into her own garage and was beaten, bound, and kidnapped by an older male who then drove her to a remote area and sexually assaulted her. Before the man released her, dropping her off outside a fire station, he threatened her life, saying that if she told anyone what had happened, he would murder her dad and burn down her home. When the victim made it home, she quickly reported the crime. DNA evidence the attacker left on the victim was collected and a DNA profile was created, however, when entered into databases it turned up nothing. In 2020 the DNA was submitted for genealogy testing turning up several relatives that led investigators to the suspects identity- a 50-year-old Enumclaw, WA resident named Paul James Bieker. DNA was collected from cups the suspect had thrown from his car onto the street and proved to be a match of the DNA found on the 17-year-old victim from 2003. Paul James Bieker is now being investigated as a suspect in the missing Lindsey Baum case.
“We’re a pretty rural area in a small town and the fact that you have two kidnappings in the same area within a six-year period is a cause for concern. We’re looking heavily into the Lindsey Baum case to see if he could be a person of interest in that case as well” said Gray’s Harbor County Undersheriff Brad Johansson.
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