MCCLEARY, Wash. – Investigators plan to interview to two women seen on surveillance video talking to a man considered a person of interest in the case of missing McCleary girl Lindsey Baum.
KING 5 News has learned the man told investigators he was not in town when Baum disappeared on June 26, 2009, but the video contradicts that.
The Grays Harbor County Sheriff's Office said the video was recorded from Mike’s Market at 204 West Simpson Avenue. About 23 seconds in, the man is seen chatting briefly with two other customers before he left.
The time stamp on the video is 9:20 p.m. That's close to when Baum, who was 10 at the time, disappeared while walking home. Hours after releasing the video, Grays Harbor County detectives were in contact with the women. Formal interviews will be set up with them, but initially it appeared they did not know the man or where he was going that night, according to Undersheriff Rick Scott.
The man tells KING 5 it is him on the video and admits he told police he wasn’t in McCleary. However, he said that he was working as volunteer firefighter in both Mason and Grays Harbor Counties and forgot he stopped at the store while driving between locations.
"I don't remember going into that mini-mart," he said.
The man is one of several persons of interest in the case. Scott said the man will likely remain a person of interest no matter what the women have to say for other reasons. The sheriff's office would not elaborate and has not released his name.
“It’s very concerning to us when somebody lies to us,” said Scott.
Scott said the man “adamantly” denied being in McCleary the evening Baum disappeared. Investigators won’t say what he told them after seeing the clip.
“His explanation was less than fulfilling,” said Scott.
Scott added that it is possible the man has nothing to do with the case. He said other persons of interest have lied to police for no apparent reason.
Police served a search warrant on the man’s business, Hartman Jewelry, on Oct. 18, 2011. It's believed Baum vanished about a quarter-mile from the jewelry store, which is a couple blocks away from Mike's Market.
The man said the investigation has been hard on him and his wife.
"It's deadened me," he said.
The sheriff’s office said it held off releasing the video until now at the request of the FBI as part of their ongoing investigation.
There is currently a $35,000 reward to find Baum. You can find more information at the Find Lindsey Baum website.