Skip to main content
CNN.com /TRANSCRIPTS

CNN TV
EDITIONS





CNN LARRY KING LIVE

An In-Depth Look at the Elizabeth Smart Kidnapping

Aired June 17, 2002 - 21:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight: Did Elizabeth Smart's kidnapper get into her home through an open garage door? It's day 12 of a desperate search for a 14-year-old girl. Her anguished dad says, could be.

Speaking for the family in this wrenching mystery, Elizabeth's uncle Chris Smart and her aunt Angela Smart.

Plus, excerpts and insights from former prosecutor-turned Court TV anchor and guest host of this show last week, Nancy Grace.

High-profile defense attorney Mark Geragos.

World-named forensic expert Dr. Henry Lee.

Former FBI special agent and profiler Clint Van Zandt.

And the latest on's kidnapping investigation from Kevin Peraino, who's covering the story for "Newsweek."

And then: an exclusive interview with a man who says a couple kidnapped his son more than 20 years ago, and Anthony Russini wants them punished. But Russini's biological son doesn't view himself as a kidnapping victim, and Matthew Propp tells us why he loves the people who took him, and wants them to live in peace.

And it's all next on LARRY KING LIVE.

We begin in Salt Lake City with Chris Smart and Angela Smart. Chris is Ed's brother. Ed, of course, is Elizabeth's father; and Angela is married to Chris, and the aunt of Elizabeth. This has been going on for 12 days.

What did you make, Chris, first, of this garage story and its impact?

CHRIS SMART, KIDNAPPED GIRL'S UNCLE: Well, it's a possibility that, you know, we've known about, and the police have been aware of. So, you know, it's a possibility. But there are still all the other factors that could be out there.

KING: Do you know, Chris, why it took so long for the rest of us to learn of this?

C. SMART: I really don't know why. I believe that Edward may have brought it up to begin with early on in the investigation and, you know, might have mentioned it to somebody, to one of the news crews. But, you know, the police are going ahead and just covering all the different aspects that they can.

KING: Angela, has anything happened in the 12 days that you might call at all encouraging?

ANGELA SMART, KIDNAPPED GIRL'S AUNT: The volunteer support; just the spirit of the people. I think that -- and of God. I think that we all feel that sustaining support, and each of us feels strong because of that.

KING: Does that at all increase your hope for Elizabeth's safety?

A. SMART: It does. It does. I think she's being watched over. That's difficult to say in these times, but I believe she's being watched over.

KING: You believe that in your heart, and your religion helps you believe that, too, does it not, Angela?

A. SMART: It does. It does. It makes me believe that. And I think that the support that we've had from the community, from our friends, from people we don't know at all, has really helped us feel that.

KING: Now how has the extend family, Chris, dealt with all of this? Another uncle, Tom, says the polygraphs have ripped people in the family apart.

Have you taken one, Chris?

C. SMART: You know, the whole family has been cooperating with the police as much as possible. And we will continue to do whatever the police ask of us.

You know, I don't believe that the polygraphs are tearing any of the family members apart. And, you know, we just stand resolved to do whatever we need to did to help bring Elizabeth home. That's the whole goal of the family.

KING: Have you taken one of those tests?

C. SMART: The only thing that I can say, Larry, is that, you know, the family will do whatever the police ask us to do. We have been doing whatever they've asked, and we'll continue to do that.

KING: Do you know why, Chris, Tom would say that it's ripped the people apart?

C. SMART: I believe probably, Larry, the -- at the time, Tom had probably had very little sleep, as many of us had. I think he had about, you know, four to five hours in a matter of 72 hours.

And so, you know, maybe, you know -- I don't know why he'd say that, to be honest with you, other than maybe sleep deprivation. And, you know, we just feel that it's always been a necessary part.

KING: Angela, what do you think of how the police have handled this, and the whole lie detection story; what do you think about it?

A. SMART: Well, I think it's important that everybody realizes, of course they're going to investigate the family. That's an important thing to do. And so each of us expected that, and we're trying cooperate as fully as possible.

I think the police have tried to handle it as best they could. I think that, you know, different members were more exhausted than the others. I think there were some that had not slept for literally five days when some of these incidents occurred, as far as questioning and things like that. And that maybe had a little bit more effect on them. If you haven't slept for five days, it's difficult to answer anything rationally.

KING: Chris hasn't told us whether he was polygraphed or not. And, of course, he doesn't have to, this is not a courtroom.

Have you been polygraphed, Angela?

A. SMART: No. But I don't -- I think -- but I think that a number of people have. And I'm not even aware of everybody who has been polygraphed.

So -- I think that we're -- I think what we were trying to stress right now is that the police are doing the best they can. But the thing that's really important right now is, so is the community. The community is really still pulling together. It's not as visual as having the Army out there in orange vests marching around and seeing everybody. But the communities themselves are pulling together in their individual areas, and they're able to be much more effective in searchings, because they know their own backyard, and are they're trying to go forward and put together.

Today we've had a number of searches in many areas. And that's what we are trying to go ahead and spur on. So this is for Elizabeth, but it's also for children after Elizabeth.

KING: Chris, last week when Nancy was hosting this show, Elizabeth's uncle Tom said that he believes the person who committed this crime is not a bad person at all, just somebody who actually may like Elizabeth.

Do you share that view, Chris?

C. SMART: We feel that it is probably somebody who may have been obsessed with Elizabeth. You know, I mean that's my own personal feeling. I can't speak for the rest of the family members.

You know, and we feel that, you know, probably didn't realize what he was getting into. And the only thing we can do is plead with the individual to please just let Elizabeth go. Take her out anywhere. You know, out on the highway, out anywhere. Let her off where she can go to a truck stop or where another car can be able to see her.

And that's where we appreciate you, Larry, and all the media getting her picture out there, getting her story out there, so if she is let go, people will recognize her and be able to pick her up and be able to bring her back.

KING: Angela, how is Mary Catherine, her 9-year-old sister, handling everything? How is she doing?

A. SMART: Mary Catherine is doing amazingly well. I saw her today, and she looks very good. Very good. She's handling things very well. She's a very strong, courageous little girl.

KING: Well, we thank you very much for joining us. Your -- our prayers are with you, Chris Smart and Angela Smart.

The hotline numbers is for any information. There are two of them: the 800 number is 932-0190. The 801 number is 799-3000.

That's been Chris Smart and Angela Smart from Salt Lake.

When we come back, our panel will assemble.

Tomorrow night, the complete cast of "Good Morning America" joins us.

Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ED SMART, FATHER OF MISSING GIRL: The way that we've been able to hold up under this is because of your prayers and your love and your support. It's been -- yesterday was a very difficult day for us.

And we still feel very strongly Elizabeth is out there. Elizabeth, we love you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back. I misidentified Chris and Angela Smart as Mr. and Mrs. Smart. They are brother and sister, uncle and aunt, to the missing Elizabeth, were Chris and Angela.

We now welcome our panel, Nancy Grace, who sat in so ably hosting this program last week; the anchor of "Trial Heat" on Court TV, former prosecutor.

In Los Angeles, Mark Geragos, the famed defense attorney.

IN New Haven, Dr. Henry Lee, the world-famed forensic expert, chief emeritus for scientific services, commissioner of public safety of the State of Connecticut; and his latest book is "Cracking Cases: The Science of Solving." Clint Van Zandt is a 25-year -- a special agent and veteran special agent for the FBI. Before retiring he worked with the bureau's behavioral science unit, and also served as the chief hostage negotiator. And he is now president of Van Zandt and Associates, Investigative Support and Threat Assessment Group.

And in Salt Lake City is Kevin Peraino, covering the Smart kidnapping for "Newsweek."

We'll start with Kevin.

Anything you can add to this story today of the garage opening?

KEVIN PERAINO, COVERING KIDNAPPING FOR "NEWSWEEK": Well, we don't know. We know that the garage door was opened for a couple of hours that night. We know investigators still don't know exactly how the kidnapper got in the house. They had originally thought it was through a kitchen window; now they say they're not so sure. They don't know whether it was through the garage, now, or some other way.

KING: Nancy Grace, the -- Mr. Smart would not say whether he took a polygraph or not. She said she did not. Why not just say it, do you think?

NANCY GRACE, COURT TV: You know, they could be just playing it close to the vest and not tipping out -- tipping off the person out there, the real perp, as to what the police really know.

But if you take a look at the cold, hard facts, police clearly think this a sexual predator -- sex as a motive. And then when you combine that with the fact that 80 percent -- nearly 80 percent of all child kidnappings are relative or acquaintance, that leads you to polygraph all the male relatives.

I'm not surprised the women are not polygraphed. And I am surprised the male family members are not just fessing up. What's the problem?

KING: Mark, this case is so puzzling in many aspects. Where does it lead you to think?

MARK GERAGOS, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, you know, I always hesitate to agree with Nancy, but in this case, it does appear that this would be rather far-fetched that this is a stranger-type abduction.

You've got a situation where it appears that somebody is able to get into that house, somebody is able to get out of that house. That -- with the exception of the 9-year-old, nobody even knows that they're there. They know exactly -- and this is not an easy house, by all appearances, to get in and out of.

It now appears that this person at least cared for Elizabeth in the sense that they went back to get some kind of shoe coverings, or foot coverings, so that she could -- obviously, then, knew the terrain and knew the terrain was going to be difficult for her to walk through.

I think that the fact that they're starting with these polygraphs of everybody that they believe is in the immediate circle around the family is significant. I don't think it's significant so much statistically, as Nancy would, because I don't really think that that's why they're headed in this direction.

I think that there's intrigue, if you will, by the circumstances surrounding her disappearance, and that's why they focused in on people who know the family or have been around that house, or maybe were in that house a couple of times recently when the house was up for sale.

KING: Dr. Lee, what is forensics' part in all of this AT THIS POINT?

DR. HENRY LEE, WORLD FAMOUS FORENSIC EXPERT: At this point, of course, we have some new information: The garage door was open.

Of course, we want to know what's the opening -- open always to the top, or just half-opening; from the garage, how to get inside the house? Is the door locked? If the door was locked, somebody have to open the door. And if you have contact with door knob, in theory, we should some (ph) find fingerprint.

And the person have to hide somebody someplace. And, more likely, if in the basement, we should look for fingerprint, look cigarette butt, shoe print or any trace chance for evidence.

The kitchen window is still the most important one: Why have to cut, and form inside (ph)? Of course the opening, the U-shaped cut, is that enough space for somebody to get out? And all those have to be checked.

What the police doing now, just basically working on two competing theories. One is the family member or acquaintance. Or the second is a total stranger, a sex predator.

They are looking, try to use polygraph, use witnesses and scientific evidence to verify that.

KING: Clint Van Zandt, what was that Bret Michael Edmunds thing all about, and the other guy they stopped? And the aren't a suspect, they are a suspect, they...

(CROSSTALK)

KING: What was that?

CLINT VAN ZANDT, FORMER FBI PROFILER: Absolutely. Yes, I mean, this has been such a whirlwind, trying to run down Edmunds. You know, he -- Edmunds is like another individual in a very high-profile case in Washington, D.C., a missing person case that became a homicide.

You've either got to rule this guy in or rule him out. His problem is that his past exposure, contact with law enforcement, has been negative. When he got stopped a few months ago he sprayed pepper spray in the face of a police officer. There are at least two outstanding warrants on this guy right now. And probably his mentality, even if he has nothing to do with this, Larry, is that he may think that the police are going to try to pin something on him.

So, you know, whether he fled the Texas or New Mexico, or whether he's, you know, hanging out at a 7-Eleven in Salt Lake, we've got to find this guy, find out what he knows about the neighborhood, and either rule him in or rule him out.

Just like Henry Lee says, it's a two-track investigation. If it's a stranger abduction, let's find out. If it's a family, let's find out, too.

And I think the Smart family is hanging in very well. They're not getting upset because they realize in cases like this, like Nancy suggested, 14 to one the offender, when a child is injured or something takes place, that offender comes from the common household or that immediate social group. So you've got to look at them, too.

But I agree with you. This is getting frustrating. We're trying to find one man in Salt Lake. We ought to be able to pick this guy up. We ought to be able to find out where he is. And we've got to get him in and see if he's got anything to do with it. If not, let's move on and find this little girl.

KING: We're going to attempt another idea when we come back.

Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

E. SMART: The garage door was open during the day. I did close it that night. And I will just say that much.

We -- you know, we don't know where the person -- the perpetrator went through or went out. And the police are trying to take care of that. And we just feel -- they said, you know, this isn't a big deal and, you know, it's fine for us to confirm to you that the garage door was open on that day.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Somebody's mad at something up above, because if you hear a sound, that's thunder in New York. And we're getting a lot of it.

Nancy Grace, now let's take another tack. And a lot of people are talking this is the number one water cooler topic.

I think if you're a parent, what you're hoping is this is a runaway. Right? Wouldn't you pray for that?

GRACE: I would pray for that. But at the very beginning -- and it's been confirmed later on -- the police have played this so close to the vest, but they have ruled out, definitely, two things. One: that the girl staged her own abduction; and two: runaway.

That is about as far as the police will go confirming or denying anything.

KING: How would they know, Mark, that it was not a staged runaway? I'm just asking this as -- from a -- innocent bystander.

GERAGOS: Right, from a hypothetical. Hypothetically, they don't. They don't have any idea. I mean, they might have things that they believe are significant so that they can do that.

They may, at the same time, be putting out disinformation. That's not unheard of in cases like this. And as a parent -- and I know you asked the question hypothetically -- I think there isn't a parent alive that wouldn't hope at this point that she's a runaway, that she's hiding out. And hoping beyond hope, even though it might seem awfully Pollyannish that, in fact, she just now is afraid that because of to-do (ph) that's been created that she can't come back. So no, I don't think that you can ever say that...

GRACE: I disagree Mark. I don't think it's that hard for police to find out whether it's a runaway. They will talk to all of her friends, speak to everyone at school, check her e-mail, check her mail, look for notes she has kept.

Long story short, you can crack a 13-year-old pretty easily when you're asking about a boyfriend.

GERAGOS: As often as they do that, there are instances where they're wrong. And this may be one of those cases where that might be it, and might be what people are hoping for.

I'm not saying that I think that it is. I think, in all probability, this appears to me to be someone who at least knew the layout of that house. If, in fact, the garage door has something to do with this, and was open during the day, what kind of a coincidence that somebody could get in and know that?

KING: Kevin Peraino of "Newsweek" what, to you, as a reporter, is the most puzzling aspect of all of this?

PERAINO: There are a lot of puzzling aspects. I mean, the stranger scenario is puzzling to me. I don't think -- you know, the police have released this photograph of Bret Michael Edmunds. He's gotten a lot of attention this week.

But nobody seams to think that he's the man that did this. I mean, the milkman who saw him -- or who was alleged to have saw him, saw a '70s model car. It was a different color. The man was a different size. So now even the police say they don't think it was this man, Edmunds. And neither does the family. They've all seen the picture, and nobody recognizes him. One other thing that I think is puzzling, is how the perpetrator got in. I mean, this kitchen window that was found just after the kidnapping, the screen was cut. But it's a -- kind of a tall, thin window with a crank. It would require some agility to get in.

KING: Dr. Lee, forensically, what's the most puzzling aspect?

LEE: Well, of course, runaway theory, the police interviewed a 9-years-old sister. She gives such a vivid description that forensically, of course, we're curious about her description, 5 feet, 8 inches tall. That's a pretty accurate sort of description of a certain people's height. And wearing a white baseball cap and a white jacket and Caucasian figures, and with a gun. All of those which are indicative, you know, she had a good look of that individual.

And forensically, of course, if that individual got in (ph), in theory, should find some -- could be a fingerprint, could be a shoe print. And the cut window should leave some tore mark, things like that.

KING: Clint, what about a planned runaway with an accomplice?

VAN ZANDT: Well, something like that could happen, Larry...

KING: I'm talking -- I mean, anything's weird today in the world, right?

(CROSSTALK)

KING: I'd hope for that if I'm a parent.

VAN ZANDT: Yes, yes. And we've got those challenges. Everyone does.

But in this case if, in fact, we've got an unknown offender who comes in, the middle of the night, he's armed. That type of person, number one, would not normally be armed. Number two, would not carry the victim a long distance away.

An unknown offender would come in, perhaps carry the victim out of the house so that her yells wouldn't awaken her parents, she would be assaulted, and then he would separate himself from her as quickly as he could.

Now, the only other spin to that is someone who wants to maintain some contact with her over an extended period of time. And that's the type of person, he'd have to have a house, a cabin, an abandoned store. He'd have to have some location where he felt safe taking her that her cries for help wouldn't be heard, that he wouldn't be seen taking a young girl in and out, and it wouldn't be known as unusual.

So those are the challenges with the unknown offender, the behavior is different than we normally encounter.

KING: Would your investigation, Nancy, lead to, obviously, someone who knew her? GRACE: Yes...

KING: Would all the questioning be revolved around people who knew her or...

GRACE: Definitely. Definitely.

Now, the fly in the ointment, the curveball here is Bret Edmund Michaels (sic). He's the one that has shown up in the neighborhood just before her disappearance and allegedly came back to her vigil, which I find very interesting. We all -- we know that very often criminals will come back to the scene of the crime, often to admire their handiwork; for whatever reason, they come back.

KING: So why is he dismissed then?

GRACE: Because I agree with Mark on this one. The theory that this drifter that's living in his car sneaks in -- and this garage door theory, I think is a bunch of bunk. I don't know why they even came up with that; that the door was open during the day and somehow a transient got into the house during the day, hid out undetected all day, waited until the dead of night, sneaked up to the turret where this girl slept and got her out without a sound?

Not buying it.

KING: Mark, were you going to say something? Will you jump in...

GERAGOS: Yes, I have to tell you that this has got to be the world's most accomplished transient. I -- this guy was -- the other night we were on and they had him pinpointed around in a three-state are, or tristate area. He's running in and out of places. He apparently has got enough money for gas, but not doesn't have enough money to buy $1.59 bottle of water.

Now he's got the ability to go by, case the place, know that the garage door is open, then know that it was going to be closed, know that the window -- maybe got in through the garage door, cut the window and then came back later on...

VAN ZANDT: And you know what, Mark...

(CROSSTALK)

GERAGOS: ... climb tall mountains with a single leap.

I -- it just doesn't make any sense.

KING: Let me get a break and come right back. We'll pick right up with more.

As we go to break, here is Elizabeth's mother today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) LOIS SMART, MOTHER OF KIDNAPPED GIRL: Elizabeth, do you remember when you were a young girl and your favorite story was called "Snake Girl"? It was a story about your great-grandmother and how she had been bitten by a snake and survived, and lived to tell about it?

Elizabeth, you're just like her. You're strong and you're brave, and you're going to make it through this.

Elizabeth, we love you. Everybody loves you. We can't wait until you come home. And we're looking forward to the happy reunion and to being together again.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back. We'll take some phone calls.

Clint Van Zandt, what is the FBI's role? What are they doing? All of the information we keep to hear (sic) keeps coming from the police.

VAN ZANDT: Sure. And this is the way it should be, Larry. This is primarily the police case first. The FBI is there to support, assist, to handle out-of-state leads. I know there's 100 FBI agents/police officers that are involved.

And one of the things they're trying to do right now, Larry, this is an extended family, as you know. There's 150 people in this family that I know about. So these officers, these FBI agents, they're out trying to lock in all of these stories.

You know, it's just like in real estate: The most important thing is location. Well, for this investigation, the most important thing is alibi. Where were you? Do you have someone that can substantiate where you were when this took place? As well as the FBI is going to run down any national leads all across the country.

You know, once you become a milk-carton kid or anything else, there are leads literally being called in from 50 different states, as there usually is in this case. The FBI is in a position to very quickly resolve those.

And, you know, Mark was talking about Edmunds. He's probably going to prove to be the unluckiest guy in the world, and probably the first guy to -- that's going to wind up in the FBI's 10 most wanted because he slept in his car.

You know, if he's watching this program: Go to the police, turn yourself in, get your name remove from this and let law enforcement find out who really did it.

KING: Dr. Lee, as the days go on, do your hopes diminish for her safety or not?

LEE: Well, you know, we're work on competing theory, runaway, somehow related family or acquaintance or total stranger. And as far as time goes by, of course we want to know what physical evidence they already found.

As time goes by the physical evidence -- you know, the volume may diminish. And hopefully we just look at our theory and eliminate all the impossible; whatever remains should be the most probable reason.

KING: Let's take a call.

Lawton, Oklahoma, hello.

CALLER: Hello.

KING: Hi.

CALLER: My question is about the -- this million dollar house. Didn't it have a security system? Wasn't it armed that night? And if not, why not?

KING: Clint, did we know the answer to that?

VAN ZANDT: Yes, well I heard the answer to that one, Larry. And it's basically, you know, like if you have a lot of people in a house -- you know, animals or people or anything else -- there's a tendency for many of us not to turn the alarm system on. And I heard that that particular night, because of the number of people moving about, that the family had not turned the alarm on.

And the father had also suggested that that window in the kitchen had been left cranked open. The garage door was open. I mean, I know my alarm system, if either one of those would have been open, the alarm system wouldn't have set itself anyway.

So it's one more thing, you have it; but in a large family, people say, ah, we get so many false alarms, don't turn it on. And I'm sure that's going to come back and haunt the family on this one.

KING: Kevin, do your fears for her safety grow each day?

PERAINO: I think they have to a little bit. I mean, you know, talking to the family members, they still have an incredible hope that she's going to come back safe. Everyone you talk to, that's the first thing that they say is that, you know, we hope, we're praying, we know that she's going to come back.

KING: What do you think, Nancy? Do you go up and down with this?

GRACE: Well, frankly up until today I had it in my heart that I thought she was still alive. And I was basing that on the fact that we hear from the police, for instance, we think we've already talked to the suspect. We're going to get you. We know basically who you are, where you are and so forth.

But today this investigation has taken a hairpin turn. Now we've got a different description, we've got a different attire. Everything has changed. We've got a different point of entry, which says to me: They don't have a clue.

And with this amount of time going by, my hopes are rapidly, rapidly becoming deflated.

KING: Is this case emotionally affecting you?

GRACE: Yes it is, because I keep looking at her picture, and I find out more about her as a person and her family. Yes, it is.

KING: Mark, are your hopes diminished?

GERAGOS: No. I mean...

KING: No?

GERAGOS: ... I'm the eternal optimist. I have a daughter roughly the same age. I think that, for the family's sake, that all you can do is be optimistic here. There's obviously people across the country that are praying for her safe return, praying that it is -- that she is nothing more than a runaway.

The alternative is too horrible to think about. I think you've just got to try and pursue this. And I think that that's what the police are trying to do.

I do have to admit to being a little befuddled by what's going on in terms of the descriptions. I mean, first we hear it's a baseball cap, now we hear...

GRACE: And they were so sure about the baseball cap, remember?

GERAGOS: Exactly.

And then -- and now we're hearing about the tan golfing cap, or a different style of cap with a different color.

Obviously all roads, in terms of a description, lead back to the 9-year-old girl, because apparently there's nobody else who saw who this suspect is.

So I don't know whether that's a product of repeated interviews with the 9-year-old, the 9-year-old's memory getting better, the 9- year-old getting confused because of the interviews. But in any way, shape, or form, you would hope that they're able to focus in on, and that they're not just blowing smoke.

KING: Clint, how much help is a 9-year-old?

VAN ZANDT: Well, she's all we've got, Larry. You know, my fear has been something that Mark just alluded to right then, is that if family members, well-intentioned, obviously -- the parents, the aunts, the uncles -- there were people in the house for, you know, an hour or more before the police ever arrived. And I don't know how many times that young girl would have had to have told her story and heard the impressions of adults around her. So then you've got a young child trying differentiate between being awakened in the middle of the night, the most traumatic thing that's ever hand to her, the opinions of adults that she loves, and now police coming in and questioning her.

I just hope and pray she can tell the difference.

GERAGOS: And you've also got the natural -- I think, natural inclination of a 9-year-old to feel guilty about this...

VAN ZANDT: Absolutely. Absolutely.

GERAGOS: ... and to want to help, and to want to do something, and to have that overwhelming guilt start to kind of color, if you will, what her memory is in this case.

VAN ZANDT: When someone says, you know, was he tall? Well yes, yes, sure he was. And that's the challenge in this case.

KING: Kevin, do you think the media is a help?

PERAINO: I think so, yes. I mean, the family has said that all along, that any kind of media attention in this kind of story helps. I mean, they have to get the word out and, you know, we're almost two weeks down the line here. And if -- you know, it's important that, you know, the rest of the country and the community is, you know, still looking for her.

KING: We'll take a break and come back with some more moments.

And then the really incredible story of Matthew Propp. We'll meet the attorney for the alleged kidnapped person, and the person who was kidnapped by an alleged -- a couple alleged to have kidnapped him.

We'll meet the attorney and the man who says he is, and we know is the biological father of this boy. Incredible story.

We'll be right back with our panel. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CAPT. SCOTT ATKINSON, SALT LAKE CITY POLICE: I think we're in the process of getting to the leads, and eliminating those leads, and running down all the calls that have come to us, and finding out where people were. And people are calling us and saying, what about this person, what about that person?

We've looked into sex offender lists. We've done all those kinds of things. And as we go down those, we're getting alibis from people and following up on those. Following up on the evidence that we've found.

So we are closer, but we have not -- we don't have any particular focus at this time.

(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: Fairfield, Connecticut, hello.

CALLER: Larry, two quick questions: One for Nancy, one for Mark. Nancy, too late to assume that this could be a ransom? And second, Mark, to your earlier point, a very wealthy family, an enormous house, why did these two girls even share a bedroom?

GRACE: I actually thought of that, because I had shared a bed with my sisters the whole time I was growing up.

But yes, definitely too late for a ransom. Good point.

KING: Mark?

GERAGOS: I'd have to agree. I mean, I never have been involved in a kidnapping case where this amount of time had elapsed without already having some kind of contact or some kind of a ransom...

KING: And how about sharing the bedroom?

GERAGOS: Well, sharing the bedroom, I don't know. I mean, some parents think that's a good idea. So I'm not going to -- I'm not here to judge their parenting skills.

I think -- I, just like everybody else, would just like to see them get back. I don't think sharing a bedroom is all that momentous. For all I know, the 9-year-old was in there that night because she was scared or something else and wanted to be there with her sister.

KING: Dr. Lee, the longer time goes on, is it the harder it gets?

LEE: Yes, definitely it's harder. But they say, you know, strange case -- somebody have to bring a gun and a knife. So that's where you really tell us it's well-planned, well-calculated, well- executed, the case. Just like (UNINTELLIGIBLE) if the person did not drive, got in through the garage door, they have to have a safe place, safe house nearby to walk.

If his car was parked in there, he got in, where that car was parking? That's a nice neighborhood, why nobody notice anything? That's a very strange case. We have to sit down, use a logical analysis to really detail, systematically, study that.

KING: Is time an enemy now, Clint?

VAN ZANDT: Well, it is. You know, I mean, I've seen kidnappings. I've seen where we've got children back, and a long period of time has taken place.

But like my last year as an FBI agent I sat down with two different families, two different locations, two different daughters that never came back. And when you sit there and you hold the hands of those people and they look you in the face and they ask if their child is coming back and you have to tell them what you believe, which is, at this point, probably not, that they need to prepare for the worst.

You know, the John Walshes of this world who have been through something like that, I can't imagine anything worse happening to a human being than losing a child, or not even knowing what happened to her.

KING: Kevin, "Newsweek's" interest in this; how long does that last? Is there a chance that this wanes?

PERAINO: I don't -- I mean, I have plans to stay out here this week. We're going to stay on the story. So at this point our interest is still there.

KING: Nancy, what do you think?

GRACE: Well, I think time is the enemy, unless she is still alive. If she's being held captive, somebody will know something -- a scream, a cry, something. But otherwise, time is the enemy, and it will be less likely that it's ever solved.

KING: Mark Geragos, do you think that's a possibility, this could never be solved?

GERAGOS: It's always a possibility in cases like this, Larry.

The -- I think, though, that the focus and the intense effort and the number of volunteers, though, tends to support the idea that it will be solved, and that it will not go on as long as a lot of these cases do.

You don't have, normally, in these kinds of cases, these kinds of resources and this kind of attention that's brought to bear on such a sustained basis. And that always helps. That's not a bad thing. And that's why the family, I think, is so grateful to have that kind of attention.

KING: Nancy, thanks for sitting in.

Nancy Grace, the anchor of "Trial Heat"; Mark Geragos, defense attorney; Dr. Henry Lee, the world-famed forensic expert; Clint Van Zandt, 25-year special agent with the FBI, now has his own investigative support and threat assessment firm in Washington; and Kevin Peraino of "Newsweek"; and earlier the uncle and aunt of the missing girl.

And I'm going to give you the -- we'll put the phone numbers up again. It's 1-800-932-0190; 1-800-932-0190. Or 1-801-799-3000.

When we come back, the puzzling story of Matthew Propp.

Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: There's a couple on trial here for kidnapping. We've been talking about the possibility of kidnapping earlier. This is a different kind of story.

With us here in New York is Matthew Propp, allegedly kidnapped by a New York couple, Barry and Judy Smiley in 1980, raised by the Smileys, who were using those names, Ben and Mary Propp, in New Mexico. With him is his attorney, Fred C. Martinez.

Also in our New York bureau, not together on the same set, is Anthony Russini. Anthony is the biological father of Matthew Propp. And with Anthony is Fred McGovern, and Fred is the attorney for Anthony Russini.

We'll start with Tony Russini. Matthew is your boy. You give him up for adoption and then you change your mind. Is that what happened?

ANTHONY RUSSINI, BIOLOGICAL FATHER OF MATTHEW PROPP: No, Larry, it's not. I didn't know -- I found out after he was born. I never wanted to give him up for adoption. I discussed that with Debbie's parents that I wanted him, that I wanted to keep him. That was always my goal to raise him as my own.

KING: Were you married to his mother?

RUSSINI: At the time, no. We married afterwards.

KING: So she gave him up for adoption?

RUSSINI: Not -- it was coercion. It was where her father coerced her into the adoption. She was kept away from everybody...

KING: Then you fought it legally, right, and the court what, eventually said that they should turn him over to you?

RUSSINI: Yes, they did. The judge ruled in November that the -- Matthew should be turned over to me.

KING: That was November, 12 -- many years ago.

RUSSINI: Of 1979.

KING: OK. And that's when the couple took him and went to New Mexico?

RUSSINI: They appealed, and they dragged it on. But they -- before the decision came down, they had disappeared a long time before that.

KING: He's now -- Matthew, you're how old now?

MATTHEW PROPP, CALLS ACCUSED KIDNAPPERS MOM AND DAD: 23.

KING: How do you feel about all this?

PROPP: Well, it's obviously very confusing. And it's very emotional.

KING: Did you want to learn who your biological parents were?

PROPP: Yes.

KING: Did the Smileys tell you who they were?

PROPP: They told me who they were and, through a meeting with the DA's office, I was able to meet everybody.

KING: And how do you feel about your father, your biological father?

PROPP: Same as I have from the first meeting we have. You know, I have that belief and that hope that, you know, we'll form a good relationship.

KING: OK. All right. So we'll come back to the Russinis, and we'll spend a couple moments with you and then go back to the Russinis so we divide this evenly.

Now Fred, what is the -- what is Matthew fighting for -- Fred Martinez. I'll come back to the Russinis.

FRED C. MARTINEZ, ATTORNEY FOR MATTHEW PROPP: Well, Matthew is not fighting for anything. He just wants an understanding. And he wants what's best for his biological parents and for his adopted parents.

KING: You don't want to see the Smileys go to prison?

PROPP: No.

KING: That's his point, right?

MARTINEZ: That's what he would like, yes.

KING: The State of New York is bringing this case, right?

MARTINEZ: Yes, against the adopted parents.

KING: Mr. Russini isn't bringing it. It's not a civil suit.

MARTINEZ: It's not.

KING: It's not. And Matthew isn't involved. This is just the state, and they'll be witnesses, right?

MARTINEZ: That's correct.

KING: Do you know why, Mr. Martinez, the state is pressing this?

MARTINEZ: Well, they believe that there was a criminal action in 1979 or 1980, and it has come to the fore at this time. And that's what they're prosecuting.

KING: They did, then, break an agreement, though. Is that generally agreed, that they should have stayed? MARTINEZ: Well, they felt that they were compelled, for reasons of their own, that they had to leave at that time, and acted upon it.

KING: What were you told growing up, Matthew?

PROPP: I was never told anything. I found everything out in August of 2000.

KING: What did they tell you when you -- you were not told you were adopted?

PROPP: No, not until that point, no.

KING: Really? So when you were like 12, 13, 14...

PROPP: No, this was when I was -- I had just turned 21.

KING: Right. But when you were 12 and 13 and 14, you thought that you were their natural child?

PROPP: Correct.

KING: Right? You did not know yet.

Were you angry?

PROPP: No.

KING: How did you feel?

PROPP: Confused, obviously. You know, it's not an easy thing to hear.

But, you know, I felt as if, you know, they're still my parents, and they're still the people that raised me.

KING: What, Mr. Martinez, is your role in this now? You're not representing the Smileys.

MARTINEZ: I do not. No I'm not.

KING: And we invited the Smiley to appear tonight, and they declined. The trial started today.

Your role is, what? Just to see that Matthew is protected?

MARTINEZ: Yes, I'm the family attorney in New Mexico. I'm the attorney that the family came to to launch this, or get this started.

KING: I see.

All right. Matthew Propp and Fred Martinez remain here in our studios.

Anthony Russini, what do you want out of this? I mean, he's over 21. What do you want? RUSSINI: Larry, I want justice. You can't take somebody's child and walk away just because you decided that's what you wanted.

They broke the law. They took my son. I never had the opportunity to raise him. I never saw his first step. I never saw the first baseball game. I never got to teach him how to ride a bike.

It's -- it hurts to see this. They keep trotting him out on the cameras to make it look like, oh, what a good boy he turned out -- which he did.

But they shouldn't have raised him. That wasn't their job. They decided to break the law and take everything into their own hands. And you have to answer for that. When you break the law, you have to answer.

I -- you know, that's plain and simple.

KING: So you will testify for the state?

RUSSINI: Yes, I will.

KING: And say, and describe the details of how he was removed, and the like, and go over the case for the prosecution?

RUSSINI: Yes.

KING: And what do you hope -- supposing they're found guilty, do you want to see them go to jail?

RUSSINI: Yes, I do.

KING: You do. Just for revenge?

RUSSINI: No, it's not revenge, it's for justice. You can't take somebody's child and walk away, say, look, I did a good job, and let us go. You don't do that.

KING: But he -- all he wants is to know more of you and know more of his mother and have his parents who raised him. He just wants to be a happy kid.

What would it accomplish?

RUSSINI: What it would accomplish is that this shouldn't be happening in the first place. He should have been with me -- he -- all along.

KING: Yes, I know, but that should have, would have, could have didn't happen.

RUSSINI: That's true. But that's because of the decision of these people. They broke the law. They're criminals.

KING: And Fred McGovern, your role in this is what? FRED MCGOVERN, ATTORNEY FOR ANTHONY RUSSINI: Larry, I've been with the Russini family since 1979 when this travesty began. I'm here to see it through to the final end.

It's very unfortunate the Russinis are being put on the defensive, made to look like somehow they're doing something wrong because the Propps, Smileys are being prosecuted.

They committed a heinous crime. They deprived -- and seeing the Smarts brought it all back, the anguish that Anthony and his family have gone through for 22 years, never knowing for a minute or a day whether he was even alive.

You saw the anguish on the Smart's family. The crime is the same. It's a kidnapping. There's no greater harm you can inflict on a parent than to steal their child. And that's what the Smileys have done.

KING: Anthony, are you now married to Matthew's mother?

RUSSINI: No, I'm not.

KING: Does she feel the same as you do about the punishment for the Smileys?

RUSSINI: Yes she does.

KING: She does. Is she going to testify too?

RUSSINI: If she's needed, I guess she will. That's her decision to make.

KING: And do you know what the state is asking for?

RUSSINI: It's...

MCGOVERN: Larry, the crime of kidnapping for which they're charged, they are subject to eight-and-a-half to 25 years in jail. That's the law in New York. It's a terrible thing that they've done. They now have to pay for their crime.

They've admitted they've done it. Now they're just looking for sympathy in the media.

KING: So Anthony -- and you want them to get that punishment. And your biological son Matthew, of course, does not.

We shall follow this case closely. Thank you all for being here, Matthew and Mr. Martinez and Anthony Russini and Fred McGovern, we hope it all works out somehow.

PROPP: Thank you, Larry.

KING: We'll come back and tell you about tomorrow night's show right after these words.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Tomorrow night on LARRY KING LIVE: the cast of "Good Morning America": Diane Sawyer, Charlie Gibson, Robin Roberts and Tony Perkins. That's the whole crew.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com





 
 
 
 


 Search   

Back to the top