Person of interest identified in Lindsey Baum disappearance

Person of interest identified in Lindsey Baum disappearance »Play Video
This image taken from security camera video shows the two women investigators would like to speak with. Tim Hartman is seen at the rear of the image near the door.
MCCLEARY, Wash. - Investigators identified a local jewelry store owner Thursday as a person of interest in the June 2009 disappearance of Lindsey Baum - but the store owner himself denies having anything to do with it.

Tim Hartman, owner of Hartman's Jewelry and Repair in McCleary, admits he "unintentionally" gave false information to authorities about his whereabouts on the night Lindsey vanished. But he maintains his innocence, saying he knows nothing about what happened to the girl and actually helped in the search for her.

The identification of Hartman as a person of interest in the case coincided with the release Thursday of a video from a convenience store in the area that was recorded the evening Lindsey vanished while walking home from a friend's house.

The video shows Hartman making a purchase in the store at about the same time Lindsey vanished, around 9:15 p.m. on June 26, 2009. Hartman had previously told investigators he wasn't in McCleary at that time.

Also seen in the video are two women, one of whom can be seen speaking briefly with Hartman. Investigators want to interview the women, and asked for the public's help in identifying them.

Within hours of the video's release, the women were identified as two sisters living in McCleary, and detectives said they were planning to interview them.

Hartman's car, home and his shop were searched in October as part of the investigation into Lindsey's disappearance.

The shop, Hartman's Jewelry and Repair on Fourth Street, is on the route that Lindsey would have taken to get back home on the night she disappeared.

Hartman earlier told police he was not in the McCleary area at the time of Lindsey's disappearance - but the newly released video shows that he actually was there.

In an interview on Thursday, Hartman told KOMO News that he had nothing to do with Lindsey's disappearance.


Lindsey Baum



He admitted he initially told police he was not at the convenience store, but said he honestly doesn't remember being there at the time in question.

He says he showed investigators a "certificate" showing that he had been in a class in Belfair until 9 p.m. on June 26 and couldn't have made it to McCleary by 9:15 p.m. But he says FBI investigators then determined that the class actually had ended at 8:15 p.m.

"I still don't remember being here the night Lindsey disappeared, but they have me at Mike's (Market) at 21:15 on their camera, 'cause I looked at the picture, and I said, 'Yeah, that is me.' But I still don't remember being here at that time."

Hartman tells KOMO News he made an ambulance run later in the evening of June 26, and when he returned to McCleary, the search for Lindsey already was under way.

He says Chief George Crumb of the McCleary Police Department then asked him to join in the search, which he did. But Chief Crumb now says he doesn't remember asking him to take part, Hartman says.

After joining in the search for a while, Hartman says he returned home but couldn't sleep, so he went out searching again. It was then, at about 1 a.m., that he says he ran into Lindsey's mother, and says he drove her to a local creek where Lindsey sometimes went to play, in hopes they would find her there.

He says he searched there, and he left some markers to show where he had searched, but they were gone the next day.

"I don't have a clue what's going on," he told KOMO News. "They got to do what they got to do. ... They're wasting a lot of money investigating me."

Hartman says the search of his home and business has "done damage to my reputation."

"Don't accuse me of something I didn't do," he says. "All I can do is tell them what I know, which is nothing about the little girl."

Hartman also says he was interrogated by police for about eight hours in January, and has taken two polygraph tests.

He says he initially was told that he passed the first test, but later was told that he had failed it. So he took a second test, which investigators told him was "inconclusive."

Lindsey Baum was 10 years old when she disappeared. A $35,000 reward has been offered in the case.

At the time of her disappearance, Lindsey was 4-foot-9, 80 pounds, with brown hair and brown eyes. She was last seen wearing a light blue hooded pullover shirt and blue jeans.