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‘It’s devastating’: 8-month-old girl’s disappearance investigated as homicide

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A week after the family of an 8-month-old girl told police she was missing, her disappearance is being treated as a homicide investigation, and the girl’s mother’s boyfriend is a suspect.

“We’re 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. This is an 8-month-old child, and I think all of us would agree somebody would know the whereabouts,” IMPD Police Chief Bryan Roach said toward the start of a Saturday news conference about the search for 8-month-old Amiah Robertson.

The Missing Persons Unit was notified on March 16 that Amiah was missing. The family of the girl initially said Robertson was last seen March 14 at her babysitter’s house on South Holmes Avenue. Conflicting information provided by relatives and possible witnesses complicated the early stages of the investigation, according to police.

“The Missing Persons Unit, because of their expertise and experience, figured out quickly through their investigation that this was a little different than most missing person of a small child,” Roach said. “We’re telling you now that this is a homicide investigation, but it has been all week.”

The last time Amiah was seen

“On March 9 at approximately 1:15 p.m. Amiah Robertson was last seen alive and well with Robert Lyons in the 200 block of South Holmes (Avenue),” IMPD Detective Jeannie Burkert said Saturday.

Lyons, the boyfriend of Amiah’s mother, 19-year-old Amber Robertson, was driving a 1996 maroon Isuzu Rodeo in poor condition and stayed on the southwest side until 10 p.m. when he returned to Amber without Amiah, Burkert said. 

According to IMPD Lt. Bruce Smith, the baby was supposed to be taken to the babysitter, and Amiah’s mother had approved her going there. The babysitter said Amiah was never brought to her. 

The babysitter and the other witnesses saw Lyons leave the house on Holmes Avenue at 1:15 p.m. March 9 with Amiah.

Suspect Robert Lyons

“Since March 10, Robert Lyons has taunted Amber Robertson about Amiah’s whereabouts,” Burkert said Saturday.

Lyons, 20, has told family, friends and police various locations where the girl should found alive. All of these locations were checked by police. Some places where Lyons said the girl should be are locations that do not exist, Burkert said.

Investigators say Lyons was near Rockville Road and Mickley Avenue from 1:30-8:30 p.m. on March 9. They are seeking information about where exactly he was and what he was doing in that area.

Lyons was arrested on March 17 on a domestic-related charge. Based on that evidence having nothing to do with the investigation into Amiah’s disappearance, Lyons was released, Burkert said. Police said they are not seeking Lyons at this time.

Police are asking the public to come forward if they saw Lyons or Amiah on March 9 or any day afterward, specifically from March 9-16.

Anyone who saw anything suspicious near Rockville and Mickley or saw Lyons with Amiah or saw Lyons’ vehicle is asked to contact the IMPD Homicide Office at 317-327-3475 or Crime Stoppers at 317-262-TIPS.

The search along the White River 

On Wednesday, police investigated the bank of the White River because they received a tip that items possibly belonging to the girl had been seen there. 

Police and volunteers on Thursday and Friday continued to search downstream of the spot on the White River where they had started so they could “completely exhaust the lead,” according to IMPD. 

Burkert on Saturday confirmed that items found on the bank of the White River were identified as belonging to Amiah or her family. Police would not provide additional details about the items that were found.

The investigation

On Tuesday, detectives determined Amiah was possibly in danger and a Silver Alert was issued. Authorities executed a search warrant Tuesday afternoon at the house on Holmes Avenue. The Silver Alert expired late Wednesday night due to the limited public response to the request for information. 

Amiah’s mother, Amber, is not considered a suspect, and Smith said police understood Amber’s explanation for why she waited to report the girl missing and that she has cooperated with police. 

The FBI is still involved in the investigation, according to IMPD. Tips are coming in constantly and those tips have been investigated since March 17. 

“It’s an 8-month-old, right? And it’s very clear that she can’t protect herself, and there’s absolutely no information that anybody is. So it’s very frustrating. I don’t think we’re any different than members of the public who may be watching this and that are frustrated. It’s devastating and it will live with this detective for the rest of her life. So we want answers. We hope that the best comes out of this, but know that the detectives are working day in, day out and they’ll continue to do that until we bring some resolution to this,” Roach said. 

Watch the full press conference here: