IMPD is seeking information from anyone who saw Amiah Robertson or Robert Lyons on March 9 in the area of Rockville Road and Mickley Avenue.
Matt Kryger, IndyStar
The investigation into the disappearance of 8-month-old Amiah Robertson has been classified as a homicide investigation, Bryan Roach, Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department Chief, said Saturday afternoon.
Police have named Robert Lyons, who was the boyfriend of Amiah’s mother, as a suspect.
Roach said it has been a homicide investigation all week after officials realized things “didn’t add up.”
“Missing Persons … figured out quickly through their investigation that this was a little different than most missing persons of a small child,” he said.
Catch up:What we know about the disappearance of Amiah Robertson
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Amiah’s family reported her as missing on March 16. But the last time police have confirmed that she was seen alive was at 1:15 p.m. March 9, when Lyons had her in a residence in the 200 block of S. Holmes Avenue on the city’s west side.
“I think that we all hope for the best always, but I think that we can’t ignore the reality of the situation,” Lt. Bruce Smith said. “Amiah cannot take care of herself. And absent somebody else who is currently taking care of her that hasn’t come forward, we are very concerned about what happened to her.”
A babysitter and other witnesses saw Lyons leave the house on Holmes Ave. with Amiah at 1:15 p.m. March 9. Police said Lyons stayed on the southwest side until 10 p.m. and returned to Amber Robertson without the baby.
While being questioned, Lyons gave police several locations where the infant should be. But police said they were unable to locate her at any of those areas.
“Robert (Lyons) has told family, friends and myself where Amiah should be alive and OK,” IMPD Detective Jeannie Burkert said. “All of these locations and homes were checked with full cooperation from residents. Some places she was said to be by Robert do not exist.
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“Since March 10, Robert Lyons has taunted Amber Robertson about Amiah’s whereabouts.”
IMPD Major Harold S. Turner said he did not know how long Lyons and Amber Robertson had been together.
Since March 16, police have searched for the child in several places where Lyons said the child would be alive and safe. Roach and officials on the case expressed frustration about the number of misleading tips in the case.
“I want you to know that we are here today because we’re frustrated and quite frankly angry because of misinformation and lack of information and lack of cooperation from those most closely involved.” Roach said. “This is an 8-month-old child, and I think all of us would agree somebody knows the whereabouts.”
IMPD is asking for anyone who saw Lyons or the child between about 1:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. March 9 in the area of Rockville Road and Mickley Avenue to come forward. They should contact IMPD at 317-327-3811 or Crime Stoppers of Central Indiana at 317-262-TIPS.
Police said Lyons was driving a maroon-colored 1996 Isuzu Rodeo that is in “poor condition.”
Although police listed Lyons as a suspect, they said they are not seeking his whereabouts at the moment.
It is unclear where Lyons is. And police did not shed light on the matter during Saturday’s press conference.
He is currently not in custody; he was admitted to the Marion County Jail on March 17 and released March 20 after being in custody on an unrelated charge, according to jail records.
Turner said police do not want to arrest or charge anyone until they have substantial probable cause to make the arrest.
“Just because we’re not looking for him now doesn’t mean that we haven’t seen him prior to him being locked up on the 17th,” Turner said.
“Make no assumption that we haven’t talked to him at all,” he said.
Amiah’s mother has been cooperative and is not a suspect, police said.
Background of the case
The timeline associated with the baby’s disappearance appeared to change, based on details given at the press conference Saturday.
Initially, police said Amiah was last seen March 14. But at Saturday’s press conference, they said they had confirmed she had been seen March 9. It’s unclear whether she was seen between in the intervening five day period.
The time between when Amiah went missing and when she was reported missing was concerning to officers, Smith said Saturday.
“That has led to some of the difficulties that we have had in tracking down exactly what happened,” Smith said.
He said some of the information people close to the situation gave police early on was misleading, though ultimately, they were able to verify some of the reports.
Police issued a Silver Alert on Tuesday, after determining that the baby might be in danger. The case did not meet the strict criteria for an Amber Alert. The Silver Alert was subsequently canceled Wednesday.
A Silver Alert was issued for Amiah. Here’s why it wasn’t an Amber Alert.
Officials said “very few tips” came in on the alert-specific hotline, whereas many had come in through social media and department lines.
After receiving a tip Wednesday, detectives obtained a search warrant for the South Holmes home and scoured the White River near West McCarthy Street. Roach said police found items that belonged to Amiah and her family. Smith would not say what those items were.
The FBI is assisting in the investigation.
Call IndyStar digital producer Ethan May at 317-444-4682 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @EthanMayJ.
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