Interviews with Lisa Irwin's brothers postponed

The Kansas City StarOctober 28, 2011 

Today’s planned interviews of Lisa Irwin’s two brothers has been postponed.

It may never happen now, because the case took a bizarre turn late Thursday as two attorneys for the family appeared to be in open conflict.

Kansas City attorney Cyndy Short said she had heard reports that New York lawyer Joe Tacopina had fired her from the case.

“He’s not in a position to fire anyone,” Short told The Star. “I work for the client, not him.”

Police told The Star’s reporting partner, KCTV-5, that Tacopina indicated the much-anticipated interviews with the brothers might happen next week.

Tacopina declined comment to The Star.

But Short said that if she has her way, the interviews with the brothers, ages 8 and 5, would likely never happen — for the sake of the boys and the case. The brothers were interviewed earlier, and she’s worried about additional trauma to them.

“I’ve done research and see more potential for harm than good with the interview,” Short said late Thursday. “It won’t happen tomorrow and maybe never.”

But if it does happen, the interviewer would face special challenges with subjects so young.

“You have to be very careful about the questions you ask and the words you use,” said Erin Miller Weiss, a social worker and forensic interviewer who is not involved in the Irwin case.

According to Kansas City police, the family has not allowed the boys to be interviewed since Oct. 4. That was the day Lisa’s parents, Deborah Bradley and Jeremy Irwin, reported that the then-10-month-old girl had been abducted from the family home.

The two boys reportedly were in the house on North Lister Avenue the night Lisa vanished; police have not revealed anything about what the boys already have said.

As in the first interviews of the two boys, police planned to use a specialist trained in child forensic interviewing to speak to the children in a non-confrontational setting.

That’s important both for drawing out valid information and for minimizing any trauma, said Susan Crain Lewis, president of the advocacy group Mental Health America of the Heartland.

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