Five dog teams dispatched by the Montgomery County police spent about 10 hours yesterday combing sections of county parklands, woods and fields for Michele Lee Dorr, but found no trace of the 6-year-old girl who vanished 11 days ago from her father's home in Silver Spring.
"We searched large expanses of land . . . close to the father's house . . . where a child might have wandered or where there are places you could secrete something," said police spokesman Sgt. Harry Geehreng.
The disappearance of Michele Dorr has become a puzzle for police since her father reported to authorities that Michele disappeared from his back yard, where she had been playing in a wading pool.
During police interviews after Michele's disappearance, her father, Carl David Dorr, gave "irrational and conflicting statements . . . in which he said he had killed the girl but then denied having killed her," according to sources close to the investigation.
Divorce papers filed twice since 1979 by Dorr's estranged wife, Dorothy Jean Dorr, allege that Carl Dorr made physical threats to the family. Dorothy Dorr alleged in divorce papers filed in February that her husband had threatened to abduct Michele "from school, from her bus stop and from the residence of the child's baby sitter." The divorce papers also allege that Dorr's "violent character poses a threat to the minor child's well-being." Dorr had weekend visitation rights with his daughter, according to court records.
Dorr, 33, is undergoing psychiatric evaluation at the Washington Adventist Hospital, according to police and Dorr's attorney, David Goldberg. Dorothy Dorr signed a petition two days ago committing her husband for emergency evaluation on grounds that his "behavior is irrational, incoherent [and he] is not able to protect self from harm," court records show.
Police searched Dorr's home at 9192 Sudbury Rd. in Silver Spring two days ago but nothing was obtained in that search, Geehreng said.
The search and the hospital evaluation of Dorr came after an intensive weeklong police investigation in which Dorr was given two polygraph tests, subpoenaed to appear before the grand jury and interviewed several times by police.
The sources said Dorr passed some parts of the polygraph tests and failed others.
Dorr's attorney, Goldberg, said his client had suffered "a mental breakdown."
"He blames himself for her disappearance and has a heavy load a guilt about that," Goldberg said. "The police have accused him of killing her and have beat up on him psychologically, called him before the grand jury and given him lie detector tests. It all got to him."
Police denied accusing Dorr of killing his daughter.
"We've got a missing child," Geehreng said. "It's not a crime so there are no suspects . . . but we do have to question people. That's part of the investigation."
Dorothy Dorr said he appeared Sunday evening at her Gaithersburg home and told her he had buried Michele in the basement of his Silver Spring house. Dorr was incoherent, she said. "He didn't seem violent," she said, "but I was scared because he said he wanted me in heaven with Michele."
The girl's mother said Carl Dorr called her yesterday from the hospital and that he is "more rational now."
Dorothy and Carl Dorr were married Sept. 30, 1978, according to court papers. She is a nurse, with one child from a previous marriage. He is a racing car enthusiast who has worked for the last six years in automobile body and paint shops.
Michele Dorr was born Oct. 10, 1979.
In recent months Dorr has had several jobs, including a two-week stint at Classic Auto Body Inc. in Gaithersburg. Manager Brian Marshall said yesterday that Dorr started work there in mid-May as an automobile painter but hasn't been heard from since the child's disappearance.
"He was a quiet and easygoing guy," Marshall said. "He told me he was divorced and they had a kid and the wife had custody."