One-year-old 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.
Kelley had previously taken Acacia without permission and hid her in a basement; she was on supervised visitation with her daughter when she abducted her. They escaped when the supervisor, Acacia's great-grandmother, left the room for a moment.
On May 26, 2003, Acacia and Kelley were last seen together in Idaho Falls, Idaho, close to the Broadway overpass and green belt, next to the Snake River. During that same day, Kelley went to a hydroelectric plant near the overpass and told the 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 located. However, a pair of baby shoes and a doll were found on the riverbank. One of Kelley's shoes was also found on the bank and the other one was in the water.
Authorities believe that Acacia drowned in the Snake River; they have classified her case as a homicide. They do not feel that she accidentally fell into the river. Kelley 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. Kelley admitted this to authorities and she was charged with kidnapping and murdering Acacia. She stated that she believed Acacia made it out of the water and is still alive somewhere.
Kelley 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 60 days in jail for shooting a child with a pellet gun. She has also been diagnosed with schizophrenia & bipolar disorder, and has a history of substance abuse as well.
Kelley has occasionally lived on the streets or in her car and 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 Kelley 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. Kelley had reportedly always been possessive of Acacia.
Acacia's parents say Kelley has never had suicidal tendencies before and had never indicated that she might harm Acacia. They characterize her as a habitual liar and suggested that her confession of murder was a fabrication, and that she had been planning Acacia's abduction for months.
Acacia's parents claim that Kelley sent them a letter from jail, writing that Acacia was alive and being cared for by others, but she never referred to Acacia in the past tense in her letters. They also point out that Kelley purchased diapers and milk for Acacia shortly before Acacia allegedly drowned, which wouldn't make sense if she had been planning to murder her.
Police investigated the possibility that Kelley gave or sold Acacia to other individuals, but they were unable give any evidence to support this theory. Nevertheless, her parents are convinced that Acacia 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.
The man was allegedly seen checking Kelley 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 does exist) was involved in Acacia's disappearance and presumed death.
Kelley was tried for kidnapping her daughter in federal court. In January of 2005, a judge acquitted her, ruling that she was insane at the time of her crime. The judge decided that Kelley was delusional when she abducted Acacia and believed that Acacia was in an abusive situation and she had a duty to save her.
Kelley was determined to be a danger to the community, based on her mental illness, past criminal behavior and history of violence & substance abuse. She was committed to a mental hospital for an indefinite period.
Kelley 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 doesn't even believe that she is mentally ill.
It is unlikely that Kelley will ever be released from federal custody; therefore, Idaho prosecutors dropped the murder and kidnapping charges against her. If Kelley ever is released from the hospital, she may face the state charges again.
As of 2018, Acacia remains missing; foul play is suspected in her case due to the circumstances involved.
At the time of her disappearance, Acacia was able to walk, run and say one-syllable words.
Description[edit | edit source]
Acacia is described as a Caucasian female with blonde hair & blue eyes and weighs 30 pounds with a height of 2'6. She has pierced ears and a birthmark on the side of her stomach about the size of a tennis ball.