Police still hopeful over Abbie

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The Independent Online
THE CONTINUING investigation into the abduction of the newborn baby Abbie Humphries was marked yesterday by a claim in a tabloid newspaper that the detective leading the search had consulted a psychic.

Det Supt Harry Shepherd confirmed he had a 25-minute meeting with the woman but had declined her offer of further help. A police spokesman said it would be foolish to ignore 'all the mystics and psychics who get in touch', but the story is seen by some as a sign of Det Supt Shepherd's desperation.

It is now two weeks since Abbie was kidnapped from the Queen's Medical Centre, Nottingham, by a woman disguised as a nurse, and police seem no nearer to finding her.

Abbie's parents, Karen and Roger Humphries, are still waiting at a secret address for news.

Insp David Gilbert told the morning press conference experts were still working on video footage taken by a hospital security camera in an attempt to produce a good frontal image of the kidnapper. He insisted the 140 officers seconded to the investigation were still optimistic about finding Abbie. But hopes that that will happen soon seem to have dwindled and journalists covering the story are attending the press conferences less regularly.

Insp Gilbert insisted police were not intending deliberately to scale down press involvement. But some officers argue privately that a lull in publicity might be no bad thing.

'Psychologists and experts say that the woman is more likely to be caught when the spotlight is off and she relaxes,' one officer said. 'That's how Dawn Griffiths got her baby back.' Mrs Griffiths baby was found by police 17 days after he was abducted in 1990.

By Monday, Abbie will have been missing for the same time. Psychologically that will have an effect on many involved in the search.

Police still hold to the basic premise - put forward by the psychologist Paul Britton - that Abbie's kidnapper is a woman who longs for a baby of her own, and is, therefore, likely to care for the infant.

But there is a sense of urgency. The longer the investigation goes on the greater the concern for Abbie's safety. 'What if she beomes ill,' one officer said. 'Her abductor might fear seeking medical attention.'

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