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Elizabeth Smart News Conference

Aired June 11, 2002 - 13:04   ET


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: We are now going to take you to Salt Lake City, Utah, where a news conference is taking place, with regard to the Elizabeth Smart case, the 14-year-old that has been missing for days now.


CHIEF RICK DINSE, SALT LAKE CITY POLICE: I and special agent in charge Dan Roberts will take a questions that you may have. Today represents the seventh day into the investigation of the abduction of Elizabeth Smart. And while we have not located Elizabeth, nor identified a clear suspect, we have made some progress. The efforts of everyone involved in this investigation, including the volunteers, and the family and everyone who has provided assistance here has not gone unnoticed by this investigation. The huge amount of work that has been done by the volunteers has helped us focus or investigation.

To date, we have received approximately 6,000 leads in which approximately 600 have been determined to be worthy of some type of follow-up. Today, approximately half of those leads have been completed. We have 90 detectives and 40 civilian personnel actively working this investigation seven days a week. Over the last two days, I have been meeting with the lead investigators and the FBI. As a result of these meetings, forensic evidence, crime scene analysis and some promising leads, we have decided to commit a considerable amount of our investigative resources to recanvassing the surrounding neighborhood and on any individuals who may have had reason to spend time in the area during the recent past.

Based on all of our investigation thus far, we believe that it is possible that we have already talked to or well soon have talked to the suspect responsible for this crime. We are pulling out all stops. We will continue this. The family continues to be cooperative in every way. And we are encouraged that we will bring a conclusion to this investigation.

Now we will take any questions you may have.

DINSE: based on everything that we know to this date, all of the analysis, all of the investigation, all of our interviews, all of our contacts, the FBI's input, we have talked to the behavioral science people from Quantico, Virginia and the FBI. We believe we have an understanding of this suspect, and it's very possible that we have already interviewed him or very soon will be interviewing him. I think it's someone who had access to that neighborhood, who had access to the residence, and that doesn't mean inside necessarily. That could be somebody on the outside. But it's somebody who spent some time in and around that neighborhood.

QUESTION: Did you find anything? Was this done a week ago? And if not, why not?

DINSE: We have done investigations. This is not the first time in the bedroom, obviously, and we are going back. We -- as these investigations progress, we continually reinterview people all the time. And so this is just part of it. We go back to the crime scene and we redo it.

QUESTION: What were you looking for last night?

DINSE: I'm not going to comment. I was going to repeat your question, but I haven't done it so far. So let me start. The question was, why haven't we gone back to the crime scene? You have my answer to that one. And I'm not going to say what we found there.

We don't have identified suspect, but we do have analysis of what that suspect is like.

We're not going to bring that out front. We have an idea of the motive, but We we're not going to speculate at this point.

QUESTION: Based on your analysis, do you believe this suspect is in acquaintance the family, a family friend, or a family member?

DINSE: The question is do we believe it's a family member or acquaintance of the family? As I have said before and the family has repeated to many here, they understand that we are looking at everyone, and we have not excluded anyone at this time. The family has been very cooperative. As it's been published, we have done a polygraph on Mr. Smart. We will do more polygraphs as times go on. And so we are not eliminating anybody at this point until we identify the suspect.

No, I'm not going to comment on that. He was very cooperative, and we were satisfied that he was very forthcoming with us. But as far as the results of that poly, I am not going to discuss...

QUESTION: Interview with the 9-year-old sister yesterday. Was her story, again, consistent with everything she you so far?

DINSE: Her story was consistent, and in fact, we did learn some interesting things about the suspect we didn't know before.

I will not discuss what we learned from the interview.

QUESTION: Composite sketch?

DINSE: There's no plan for a composite sketch at this time.

QUESTION: Can you comment on that sir? DINSE: The question was that the investigators took the -- or the 9-year-old away from the home just recently? I am not aware of that.

How many time has she been interviewed is the question, and does she recognize this person? The response is, she's been interviewed three times, formally interviewed three times, and I'm not going to comment on whether she recognizes the suspect.

We're certainly looking at a sex offender, you're right, and we're looking at all the possibilities of an individual who may commit this kind of a crime, for whatever purpose.

I'm sorry?

QUESTION: Can your characterize at this point that you feel like you're closing in?

DINSE: I think we are narrowing our investigative response and focus.

We received some promising leads.

Yes, that's true. The question was, are there workers inside, and recently that have been inside the residence, and are we talking to them? And the answer is yes.

QUESTION: What is the family doing to cooperate with police. Are you able to put together this case?

DINSE: The question is what's the family doing in assisting in putting the case together. Well, they've certainly provided a lot of information to our investigators and been very forthcoming with that information, very supportive of providing us anything and anything possible that might be of assistance, and so that is all very helpful.

Are any the workers that we've talked to in the past going to be reinterviewed and are any of them sex offenders?

Everyone will be re-interviewed, and I'm not going to comment on anybody's past.

QUESTION: Chief, as you narrow your focus, do you have reason to believe at this point that Elizabeth is still alive?

DINSE: You know, the question is do we believe that Elizabeth is still alive as we refocus or investigation. The further away we get from the day of the event, the more concerned we get about her safety. We know that the family are extremely hopeful and they talk about miracles. I think we can join that same thought. We hope for a miracle, too.

The question is, is there any reason to believe there's more than one person is involved? We have not excluded that at all.

The question is (UNINTELLIGIBLE) to extract blood evidence, and I'm not respond to what -- everything we did in the house.

Until we find her, until we find this suspect, I don't know that we can eliminate any possibility, and the question was, was she a runaway? All of our evidence to this date does not support that she is a runaway.

The question, do we believe that she was familiar -- Elizabeth was familiar with the person that she left with. That is a possibility, and I'm not going to comment beyond that. There has been no -- the question is, was anybody or any suspect contacted the family, or possibly suspect contacted the family, and the answer is, not to my knowledge.

Well, it could be -- the question is since we believe we may have already talked to the suspect involved, or may soon talk to him, as -- are those suspects contacting us, or are contacting them? It could be either way in the response. You have to understand, we have followed up on 600 leads, of which we have completely approximately half of those. We have talked to a lot of people, a lot of people in this investigation, and the possibility, based on everything that we know, is that we may very well have already talked to that suspect. We -- I'm not -- I don't have a name. I will not identify someone. I don't have anybody that I can point to.

But with everything that we know about this suspect, with everything about this specific crime and the crime scene itself and all of the information that we have put together as an investigative team, there exists the possibility that that suspect may have been talked to or is about to be talked to.

Well profiles is a loose term. We certainly know we have some behavioral traits any characteristics that are probabilities for this suspect.

Yes? Yes?

Yes, well they don't like to be called profilers -- behavioral scientists. And we have some behavioral characteristics that we believe are probable characteristics this suspect would have, and we are not going to discuss those.

We clearly -- the question was, were we looking for physical evidence when we back to the house yesterday and conducted some scientific work. Yes, the answer is yes, we were looking for additional evidence for this suspect.

We believe it's somebody who stalked this area, one way or another. And I think anybody who does that has the ability to do it again.

I'm not going to state whether this family -- I will not comment on whether this family was the focus or not.

We have already asked the family for all kinds of forensic evidence, and they have been cooperative in supplying it. Everyone has agreed to do those kinds of things. This has been ongoing. The family has been cooperative. The question is, is the family cooperating by providing us forensic evidence hair, blood? Yes, they are.

The question was, do we believe that the volunteer search is being scaled back or should be scaled back? You know, that's up to the foundation that is coordinating it. I can tell you that the things that they have done and the things that they have not found have been very helpful in our investigation. They certainly have covered many areas that we would not have the physical capability to do ourselves. They have allowed us to focus our attention on the investigation, and the things that we do best, and they have done a very good job of canvassing the areas, the wide areas, looking for evidence, and we are appreciative of that.

It's now our time that we believe because of all of that, as well as our investigations, that -- our investigative leads to this date, is why we're refocusing narrowing our investigative approach.

There could be some previous criminal background in some of the individuals that we are going to talk to.

The question is, are we scaling back our involvement, and the answer is no.

Do we have any plans for an arrest in the future? Yes, I have plans for an arrest in the future.

QUESTION: Can you be me specific?

DINSE: No, I can't be anymore specific than that. We don't have an identified suspect. I can't tell you that tomorrow, the next day, or even a week from now I'm going to make an arrest.

 But we have plans for an arrest in this.

And my caution to this suspect, if he is listening, is we are going to get you.

No, I didn't say that. I said it's too a suspect. If he is listening, we are going to get you. And if you've got Elizabeth, you better release her now.

QUESTION: What you're saying is you have no doubt that this case will be solved.

DINSE: I believe we will solve this case.

The question is, will we be asking for forensic evidence from any of the people who have visited the house, and the answer to that is we'll ask for evidence from everyone that we come in contact with that we believe has a potential to be a suspect.

The question is, have we taken fingerprints from the neighbors? I can't comment. I don't know if we -- we may have. But it's certainly a possibility that we might. Has our leads led to any evidence outside the home? I guess your definition of evidence, our leads certainly have led us outside the home, yes.

Physical evidence? There's physical evidence that we have gone to outside the home, that is true.

The question is, what are we basing the new information from the 9-year-old witness? You know, I'm not going to comment on that. She has been an extremely good witness. She has been very consistent in her statements regarding this incident. We have some specificity about this incident that we didn't have before, and that's helpful.

I apologize. I didn't.


DINSE: Oh, on the code of DNA. I'm not going to comment on anything that we've gotten back from our forensics.

We are pursuing every direction. We are using forensics and certainly all of our capabilities within the investigative and law enforcement arena to solve the case, and so...

That's true.

I'm not going to comment on any of the things that we could turn around or have turned around on. I'm not going to give you results on any of that.

I'm not going to comment on what we did in the house last night in the room. We did some investigations in the room, and we will just leave it at that.

QUESTION: Do you believe he's still the area?

DINSE: The question is, was there a bedroom window in the girl's room open, and can we give them any information about the point of entry, and the answer is, I will not answer those. Those are all part of investigation. And while they may not seem important to you, and they can be very important to us in trying to solve the case, and we're not going to discuss it.

The question is, do we believe this suspect is still in the area? Yes.

I'm not going to comment on any of the evidence outside of the house that we may or may not be looking at. Just leave that we have some that are outside the house and we are aware of that.

Agent, Roberts, can you talk about the FBI in this case?

DAN ROBERT, FBI: Sure, we've been involved right with the start, working with colleagues at the PD, and working hand in hand with the interviews currently. Generally, the way it's working administratively is there is one detective and one special agent from FBI assigned in teams, and they're out working the investigation hand in hand.

And we've tried to be good partners with chief and provided whatever we could in terms of our support from the behavioral science people, from the laboratories, from wherever we can to help out with this case.

They've been very helpful. Let me say that, they've been very helpful. They spent a good amount of time at the crime scene, taking in all kinds of information about the witnesses in this case, as well as reviewing some of the reports that were generated. They kind of acting as a series of checks and balances for the investigation to take a look and given a independent review of some of the things that we've done, and some of the leads that we're going to pursue, just to make sure we're on the right track. They did a very good job of that. They met with the chief and his staff and gave us some traits.

As far as specifics, in terms of their report to us, we really don't want to get into that now, because that wouldn't be ethically appropriate at this time.

Yes, the question is, did we bring in a forensic child interview specialist? And the answer is yes, we did do that. And she worked much the same way as our behavioral science folks, and she reviewed some of the interviews in this case. She gave us some helpful hints in terms of what to look for in terms of the interview process with the children. Based on her experiences, which are extensive in interviewing children involved in crime, and she was very helpful, and acted as consultant to us.

Our particular forensic child interview specialist from the FBI did not. She has reviewed the other ones.

It was based on everything that we've got, based on the interviews we've done, based on the laboratory examinations, the evidence collected, based on the behavioral science assessment, based on our detectives and agents out beating the bushes. It was based on all those factors. You can't point to any one investigative technique that was used that made us narrow our investigation at this time.

DINSE: Well the question is, because of my statement to the suspect and admonition, that based on anything that the behavioral scientists said the suspect would react to it. No, it's not. It's a promise. And it comes from me, directly.

From the beginning, we have not commented on the description, other than what you already have, and we are not going to continue to comment about that description, or any more thoroughness about that description than we ready have -- for right now, yes.


Because this is part of the investigation, and the description that we have is what we want to go with. And when it becomes more definitive, or if we want to become more definitive, we will.

We've had a lot of suspects offered up to our leads, and to the extent that we can follow up on those suspects, we've done that. Right now, we're just not commenting on how much information we know about the suspect, and that description's part of it.

Do we believe he's a local resident? That is a possibility. It's not necessarily a fact, but it is a possibility he's a local resident.

The question is, would the description be helpful to the community? We've given all of the description that we can give out that we think is important at this point. If there was more to given, we would give you -- without hurting the investigation. We clearly would give you that. There is -- at this point, there's nothing that we could provide, and I'll go this far, to the community, beyond what we have now.

The question is, might we spook the suspect into running based on the information that we've provided today?

PHILLIPS: The search continues for 14-year-old Elizabeth Smart in Salt Lake City, Utah. You're listening to chief Rick Dinse, with the Salt Lake City Police, making the point that he believes they may have or may soon talk to a suspect who remains unidentified. They believe he is still in the area. The police chief coming out with a very confident voice, saying that he will solve this case, making it very clear to the suspect that "we will get you" -- quote, unquote.

Six-thousands leads, 600 worthy of a follow-up, the chief says, 90 detectives on this case, 40 civilian personnel, and they're working seven days a week, $250,000 reward and we do have two numbers to give you. These are the FBI hotlines, the tip lines: 1-801-799-3000, also 1-800-932-0190. Once again, the search continues for 14-year-old Elizabeth Smart, missing since June 5th in Salt Lake City. They're police believe they may have, or may soon talk to a suspect who remains unidentified, and they do believe that that suspect remains in the area.




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