Details of Disappearance
Acacia was abducted by her grandmother, 38-year-old Kelley Jean Lodmell, from her great-grandparents' Salt Lake City, Utah home at 6:00 p.m. on May 25, 2003. Photographs of Lodmell and her car are posted with this case summary. She had previously taken Acacia without permission and hid her in a basement, and she was on supervised visitation with the baby when she abducted her in May 2003. They escaped when the supervisor, Acacia's great-grandmother, left the room for a moment.
Acacia and Lodmell were last seen together in Idaho Falls, Idaho on May 26, close to the Broadway overpass and green belt, next to the Snake River.
That same day, Lodmell went to a hydroelectric plant near the overpass and told employees there that she had dropped Acacia into the river while they were dangling their feet off the bridge. The plant was immediately shut down so Acacia would not get sucked into its turbines.
Divers searched the murky river for several days, but Acacia was not found there. However, a pair of baby shoes and a doll were found on the riverbank. One of Lodmell's shoes was also found on the bank; the other one was in the water.
Authorities believe Acacia drowned in the Snake River; they have classified her case as a homicide. They do not feel that Acacia accidentally fell into the river.
Lodmell was soaking wet when she ran to the power plant for help, and the police believe she intentionally jumped in the water with Acacia in her arms in a murder/suicide attempt. She admitted this to authorities and was charged with kidnapping and murdering Acacia. She stated that she believed the baby made it out of the water and is still alive somewhere.
Lodmell has a criminal record; she has been charged with many petty offenses including drunk driving, threats with a dangerous weapon, and disorderly conduct. Her most serious offense was aggravated assault; she served sixty days in jail for shooting a child with a pellet gun.
She has been diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, and has a history of substance abuse as well. She has occasionally lived on the streets or in her car, and she took her medication only when she could afford to pay for it. She was not taking it at the time she abducted Acacia.
Acacia's parents hope that Lodmell is lying about her granddaughter's presumed death in an effort to conceal her from the rest of the family, and that she possibly passed Acacia over to one of her friends and would find her after she was released from prison. She had reportedly always been possessive of the child.
Acacia's parents say Lodmell has never had suicidal tendencies before, and had never indicated that she might harm Acacia. They characterize Lodmell as a habitual liar and suggested her confession of murder was a fabrication, and that she had been planning Acacia's abduction for months.
Acacia's parents claim Lodmell sent them a letter from jail, writing that Acacia was alive and being cared for by others. She never referred to Acacia in the past tense in her letters. They also point out that Lodmell purchased diapers and milk for Acacia shortly before the baby allegedly drowned, which would not make sense if she had been planning to murder her.
Police investigated the possibility that Lodmell gave or sold Acacia to other individuals, but they could find no evidence to support this theory. Nevertheless, her parents are convinced she is still alive.
Acacia's mother and father are offering a reward for their daughter's safe return. They have issued a sketch of a man they think may be helping hide Acacia. The sketch was not made by a professional sketch artist and is not endorsed by the police. It is posted with this case summary.
The man was allegedly seen checking Lodmell and Acacia out of the Red Lion Hotel on May 26. He was described as being in his late forties or early fifties with rough, weathered tan skin, graying sunbleached hair, hazel eyes, large hands with carrot-shaped fingers, and a small build. He was about 5'6 tall and smoked Basics cigarettes. Police detectives do not think the man, if he exists, was involved in Acacia's disappearance and presumed death.
Lodmell was tried for kidnapping in federal court. In January 2005, a judge acquitted her, ruling that she was insane at the time of her crime. The judge decided Lodmell was delusional when she abducted Acacia and believed the baby was in an abusive situation and she had a duty to save her.
Lodmell was determined to be a danger to the community, based on her mental illness, past criminal behavior, and history of violence and substance abuse. She was committed to a mental hospital for an indefinite period. She may be released from the hospital at a later date if psychiatrists determine she is no longer dangerous, but her prognosis is poor, as she has repeatedly refused to follow through with treatment programs for her schizophrenia and does not even believe she is mentally ill.
It is unlikely that Lodmell will ever be released from federal custody; therefore, Idaho prosecutors dropped the murder and kidnapping charges against her. If she ever is released from the hospital, she may face the state charges again.
At the time of her disappearance, Acacia she was able to walk, run, and say one-syllable words. Foul play is suspected in her case due to the circumstances involved.