Hope dwindles after father of missing California baby is killed in shootout

After the father of a missing 6-month-old girl was killed in a shootout with law enforcement, there is little hope investigators will find baby Ember Skye Graham and it's doubtful she is alive, the Shasta County sheriff said Monday.

Ember has been missing since July 2, when Matthew Graham, 23, called authorities and reported his daughter had been stolen from her crib in the middle of the night while he slept.

Graham’s story didn’t make sense to detectives, officials said, and he was publicly named as a person of interest in the baby’s disappearance. He was arrested the night he reported Ember missing but released soon after.

On July 11, when word came that investigators had a potential lead in the the case, Graham vanished and stole his mother’s cellphone, handgun and money from her purse.

On Monday morning, Graham was spotted by Shasta County and Siskiyou County deputies and California Highway Patrol officers in a garage in Dunsmuir, not far from where he'd abandoned a stolen car. He exchanged gunfire with authorities twice and was ultimately killed, according to the Siskiyou County Sheriff's Department.

“He was the only person who last saw baby Graham and we believe knew the whereabouts of baby Graham,” Shasta County Sheriff Tom Bosenko said Monday. “Unless this investigation finds a note or some documentation that he left behind…we may not be able to ever find her.”

“I do not believe that baby Ember Graham is alive,” Bosenko added.

Ember’s parents were estranged, and her mother had dropped the baby off with Matthew Graham the day before the baby went missing, Bosenko said.

Matthew Graham appeared to live in squalor, according to a description of his property provided by law enforcement. He lived in a 25-foot camper trailer with no running water or working bathroom so sewage flowed to a cesspool nearby. Garbage and old cars make up the landscaping, and Ember’s crib was inside a separate room that didn’t have a working door. Investigators had to jimmy it open with a screwdriver.

Officials said the trailer appeared to have equipment related to making honey oil, a concentrated form of marijuana that Graham said he smoked prior to falling asleep and Ember disappearing.

When detectives pressed Graham on his activities the night Ember disappeared, he said he took her for a short drive to fall asleep, but sheriff’s officials say they have video evidence that contradicts him.

Investigators said last week they found a pacifier in the area that resembled one Ember was known to use, but it would take weeks before DNA tests could confirm if it was hers.

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