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Parents of Utah girl presumed drowned in Idaho years ago still searching

Tot kidnapped in '03 by grandma who jumped into river

IDAHO FALLS (AP) — The mother and father of Acacia Bishop are releasing fliers of what she might look like now.

Acacia Bishop's body has never been found.

The 19-month-old was kidnapped May 25, 2003, from her Utah home by her grandmother Kelley Lodmell, who thought she was being harmed and drove her to Idaho Falls.

The next day, Lodmell said she jumped into the Snake River near the south side of the Broadway Bridge while clutching Acacia, saying she wanted to turn the toddler into "an angel."

Lodmell was rescued and eventually sentenced to a federal mental institution in Fort Worth, Texas, where she remains today.

But Acacia's body was never recovered even though Bonneville County Search and Rescue divers spent four days combing the river bottom.

And that's one reason why Acacia's father, Adam Bishop, hasn't given up hope that his daughter is still alive.

He has worked tirelessly since May 26, 2003, to find his daughter.

His latest effort includes sending 275 fliers to Idaho schools with a 2003 photo of Acacia and what she might look like now as a 5-year-old school-age girl.

He wants principals to post the fliers in teachers lounges, hoping that someone will recognize his daughter, who wouldn't even know she's missing.

"It only takes one bit of information," Bishop said.

The absence of Acacia's body isn't the only thing fueling his belief that his daughter is alive.

He said Lodmell tried to kidnap Acacia before the 2003 incident and give or sell her to a friend because she didn't think the toddler was being treated well by Bishop and his fiancee, Casey Lodmell.

Kelley Lodmell also bought a lot of diapers and baby food immediately after she kidnapped Acacia, Adam Bishop said, leading him to believe his daughter was given to someone before the woman jumped into the river.

"There are just too many clues," he said.

Local authorities say everything points to Acacia drowning that day, but they also acknowledge there is a slim chance she could be alive.

Bonneville County Sgt. Doug Metcalf, one of the divers who looked for Acacia's body in 2003, said eyewitnesses saw the toddler and Kelley Lodmell on the riverbank.

But nobody saw Acacia and her grandmother in the water together.

"You just never know," Metcalf said. "She could be in the river. She could be out and about."

It was extremely difficult searching the bottom of the river for a body, Metcalf said, because there was about 6 inches of visibility in the 20 feet of water where Kelley Lodmell entered, and there's a lot of debris — cement blocks, rebar, shopping carts, bikes and rock — in that stretch of the river.

There was no visibility in the 60 feet of water downstream, either.

Divers had to feel around with their hands and feet, Metcalf said, and they even tried scanning the depths with a sonar device, to no avail.

Several studies have been conducted on what causes an adult's body to rise to the surface after someone has drowned. What a person ate beforehand, his or her weight, and the temperature of the water can all affect whether someone's body will stay under water, Metcalf said. Almost no studies have been conducted on children, though.

That doesn't matter to Adam Bishop and Casey Lodmell, who believe their daughter is alive somewhere.

"We know that she's still out there," Adam Bishop said.