The Justice Files: The disappearance of baby Acacia

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SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Utah) –  Seventeen years later, Memorial Day still haunts Linda Lodmell.

On that day in 2003, her great-granddaughter Acacia Bishop was taken from her home.

“I asked my husband where is Acacia do you have her in the living room and he says no,” recalled Linda Lodmell. “And I go ‘oh no, Kelly took the baby.'”

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Her daughter, Kelly Lodmell was staying at the home.  Kelly is also Acacia Bishop’s grandmother.

“A (911) call was called in on Memorial Day,” said Lodmell.  (We said) Kelly had taken the baby.”

But she said it was another 12 hours before the Amber Alert was issued.  To this day, the delay in the Amber Alert remains a sore spot with her.

“They said it was a family dispute,” Lodmell said.

Lodmell still believes that delay allowed Kelly to leave Utah with baby Acacia.

But after authorities joined the search for baby Acacia they soon learned Kelly Lodmell had gone to Idaho.

They were spotted at a hotel in Idaho Falls.  Authorities also learned a witness saw them with a man.

“Our detectives have looked at that possibility and have exhausted all the leads on that possibility,” said the officer whose name was not found in an ABC4 archive story from 2003.  “They haven’t found anything that convinces them that there was a third person.”

Around the same time, someone spotted a woman and a child sitting by a hydroelectric plant along the Snake River.  But she didn’t know who they were.

“It hit me that maybe I was the last person to make eye contact and give a loving gesture to the little girl,” said Jeannie Malbo.

Kelly Lodmell who family members said had a history of mental illness was pulled out of the river.

But there was no sign of baby Acacia.  Kelly was taken into custody.

“We have information and reason to believe that she intentionally jumped into the river in an attempt to commit suicide and kill the baby as well,” the officer told reporters.

The toddler’s great-grandmother said they later talked with police and updated them about their conversation with Kelly.

“She said she threw the baby into the Snake river, this is what the police is telling us, because she wanted an angel,” said Linda Lodmell.  “Now that didn’t make sense.”

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Back in 2003, there was a vigil held one evening along the banks of the Snake River.  At the vigil in Idaho her parents Adam and Casey Bishop make an emotional plea to help bring her home.

“This angel, this angel deserves us to find her,” said Adam Bishop.  “She deserves not to be alone. And she deserves to be with her family.”

Authorities searched for days but baby Acacia wasn’t found and ended the search.  Authorities were convinced Kelly Lodmell fell into the river with Acacia.

Lodmell was not under arrest for murder.

“I went in to see her and I asked her where is the baby?” said Linda Lodmell.

Her response will be in part two, Thursday as the story of baby Acacia will continue.  Also in part two, Linda Lodmell and other family members still believe Acacia is still alive but with someone.

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