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Elizabeth Smart Case Press Conference

Aired June 26, 2002 - 13:05   ET


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: We're going to take you live now to Salt Lake City, Utah, where the family of Elizabeth Smart is talking about the investigation and the continued search for her.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just the flu. It's been going through the whole family.

QUESTION: Is he doing OK stresswise?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, I think he's doing fine.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think she's Doing fine as well.

QUESTION: Will she be doing any interviews, or will Ed be doing any more briefing or interviews?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would imagine that they would, but it's been on a day-to-day basis already.

TOM SMART, MISSING GIRL'S UNCLE: Can I say one thing. When we say Ed and Lois are doing fine, they are doing better than can be imagined in the most horrific thing in the world, and that's -- I think we can say that about our family, but nobody can imagine -- even our family and what we've been through, we can't imagine what my brother and -- my brother-in-law have been through, Ed and Lois. We give them full 100 percent report.

Are they fine? No. Will they ever be fine until they have there little baby back? No.

QUESTION: Have any members of your family got subpoenas to testify before a grand jury?

T. SMART: Nobody can talk about a grand jury, anybody that I know of.

QUESTION: ... subpoena can acknowledge they've been subpoenaed. Can they talk about it afterwards? Has anyone been subpoenaed. Is that a no comment, or is that a no?

T. SMART: That's a -- we can neither confirm nor deny anything about a grand jury.

QUESTION: Can you react to the seating of a grand jury in this case. Does that make you more optimistic?

T. SMART: We can confirm the fact that we are very encouraged by the investigation, and insofar as the investigation goes, we feel a comfort that they are looking not just at one, but at several promising leads. Those are all things that we are listening to Chief Dinse say, and he can really address those issues better than us. That's his job, and I think he's been fairly clear on that.

QUESTION: You say that the family not putting all eggs in one basket. Do you believe -- or do you feel the police are putting all of its eggs in one basket with Mr. Ricci?

T. SMART: Chief Dinse specifically said that was not the case. If we listen to him, that's what he said, so I believe him.

QUESTION: There have been reports that Mr. Ricci in Lois and Ed's house paid particular interest in Elizabeth. Can you tell us if that's true or not?

T. SMART: I would imagine that anybody any of those beautiful children, they would pay particular interest, because they are very beautiful children.


T. SMART: We don't know any of the details about suspects or -- and...

QUESTION: Ed or Lois haven't said anything about the fact that he seemed to favor her in any way?

T. SMART: No. They have not said that to us in any way.

QUESTION: Mr. Ricci has said that he understands why he's been questioned and why he's become the unofficial suspect, but that he has nothing to do with this, and that he and his family are very upset about what happened too and want to come home. How do you react to it?

T. SMART: I can imagine family would be upset. This is a horrific thing. Whether he's guilt or not, we don't know that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We don't know that, and we don't feel that.

T. SMART: We feel that there's a danger of pointing in any one direction at this point, because what we feel is hope in our hearts. We feel the love and prayer of the world around us. And we pray for Elizabeth to come home. As far as the investigation, that's the investigation and they don't tell us everything, and they don't tell you everything. That's their job. They're looking for Elizabeth, and we 100 percent support them.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're supporting them. QUESTION: When did they tell you about the grand jury? Or did they tell you about the grand jury?

T. SMART: We can confirm nor deny anything about grand jury, so let's not ask the question again.

QUESTION: Do you think the focus on Ricci now is diminishing? Your search effort at all right now? Are you seeing any kind of direct effect on the search effort that you think is related to the focus on Ricci?

T. SMART: I think possibly. I mean the searches have had up and downs. Clearly, several days ago, we tried to talk about the search going to a different phase, where every citizen is a searcher, and that's not just true -- whether it's an organized search, I think it's -- we God bless the people who were doing that.

I was on a search with the Catholic parish yesterday morning and with our neighborhood in the evening. And we'll continue to support that, but the think we are asking, and we believe is happening, is everybody does have an amazing awareness about Elizabeth, and I feel that when she walks and when people see, her they will know who this beautiful little girl is and hopefully bring her home to us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A few more questions.

QUESTION: Do you have any idea what items were taken out of your brother's home?

T. SMART: That would be the investigation, and we aren't commenting about anything on the investigation.

QUESTION: It's been three weeks, obviously, since yesterday. And generally speaking, when you look at statistics, it's less likely that you will find someone alive as time moves on. Not to take anything away from your home, but do you think the latest development in this investigation has renewed your hope, or are you kind of still just remaining faithful?

T. SMART: Well, I think intellectually and reasonably, when we look and see what Chief Dinse and other investigators are looking at, they cannot tell us that, and won't until they have her in our arms, but...

QUESTION: How do you feel?

T. SMART: I get a feel, and the feel is that we still have a lot of hope. The fact that all of you are here today gives us a lot of up. The fact that the whole world is still praying for a miracle and needs a miracle gives us a lot of hope.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We know statistics. We understand all of that. But we're holding out for miracle.

T. SMART: And that there's several leads they're looking at according to Chief Dinse. That would have something to do with investigation. And I would not have anything to do with corrupting their investigation.

Thank you.


QUESTION: ... aren't any more details. Is that disappointing to you at all, that there are no more details to release?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm sure that there's no more details to release, and maybe that's better. We really don't know.


PHILLIPS: The family of 14-year-old Elizabeth Smart saying they're still encouraged by the investigation that's going on there in Salt Lake City.

Let's bring our Ed Lavandera back in. He is also live there. Has been monitoring all the developments.

Ed, what do you make of the discussion concerning the grand jury question?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we'll get to that in a second. Let me point out real quick -- I don't know if we cut to the live presser there at the very beginning. But Ed and Lois Smart not here today because the family says they are home sick.

This comes on a day here, as we mentioned, that we've learned that a federal grand jury is asking questions of Richard Ricci's wife, Angela Ricci. We understand she arrived at the courthouse this morning. She's been answering questions from them.

From what we've been told, what authorities are using this for is to get people's stories on the record to use it as an investigative tool to make sure all the stories are into the record, and everything is exactly the way they need it, as they try to piece together all of this different information. Angela Ricci before the grand jury this morning.

And this also comes the day after the authorities say that they're trying to piece together the timeline of where Richard Ricci was the -- between May 31st and June 8th of this year. They passed out fliers with the cars that Richard Ricci had access to. They've been going around to people, asking them, trying to get information as to where they might have seen these cars. They're trying to put together their own timelines of what Richard Ricci was doing, so they can compare that to what Richard Ricci has been telling them now.

Richard Ricci's family said Ricci was at home, sleeping in his bed, on the early morning hours of June 5th, and that he shouldn't be a suspect in this case, and the only reason he is a suspect in this case, is because of his criminal background. His in-laws say that he is a good person, who is trying to make his way in life again after all of criminal background, and making his way forward, trying to work his way back into society, and his family says that they're looking at the wrong person at this point -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: All right, Ed Lavandera, live from Salt Lake. Thanks, Ed.




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