Commentary: Lisa Irwin case shouldn't become a sideshow

The Kansas City StarOctober 17, 2011 

Cue the music and send in the clowns.

Oh, wait. Never mind. Curtain’s already up. The circus has begun.

The disappearance of Baby Lisa Irwin is strange. But with the appearance of “Wild Bill” Stanton, the case officially enters the land of bizarre.

Stanton is a self-promoter, plain and simple. He had three or four years as a New York City police officer back in the late ’80s before a hand injury sent him into early, early retirement.

So Wild Bill was born. He became a private detective, a bouncer, a bodyguard eager to hobnob with celebrities like Sylvester Stallone and Bruce Willis. Maybe he was hoping a little bit of Hollywood glamour would rub off, giving the impression that he was the real deal, one who’d done all those cops-and-robber stunts.

Bully for entrepreneurial savvy. For a man with so little time on the force, he’s made quite a living since then preaching about the ways of police. Stanton dug a niche as one of the talking head “experts” that news shows let blather to fill air time. He also linked with high-profile attorneys. A 2001 magazine said Stanton’s private eye business grossed “seven figures.”

And apparently he persuaded the Irwin family to let him assist in the hunt for Baby Lisa. No word on who pays his tab. NBC?

Stanton declined to speak at length Wednesday with a Kansas City Star reporter.

None of it matters. He’s not a police officer. He has no legal authority. He’s not even a licensed private detective in Missouri. He will have no access to police findings.

The family could be accused of gullibility. But no one receives a handbook when they become a parent. And notes certainly aren’t readily available on how best to handle matters in the worst scenario — your baby is missing.

One would hope that common sense and maturity would prevail. That hasn’t always been the case so far. Wild Bill is simply the latest in a series of twists.

Aspects of the investigation — the missing cellphones, the mother’s reported flunked polygraph, word that a neighbor might have been swabbed for DNA, the temporary impasse between the parents and police — have dribbled out from family and others close to them.

Local media have struggled to get access to what often are routine interviews in such a dire situation. In abduction cases, it is imperative that word gets out locally, where the most likely tips will be derived.

Still, it is possible that this semi-celebrity private eye will coax someone to come forward with information. Maybe they’ll want the photo op.

But until another sideshow arrives (psychics?) the right people remain on the job.

Baby Lisa has Kansas City police, trained and legally qualified, diligently working for her best interest.

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