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CNN LARRY KING LIVE

Interview With Ed Smart, Nancy Grace, Mark Geragos

Aired July 10, 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.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ED SMART, ELIZABETH SMART'S FATHER: The thing I want him to know is that I want to be able to hear from him, to tell me what it is he wants.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, an anonymous letter prompts an emotional plea from Elizabeth Smart's father. She's been missing 36 agonizing days.

We'll get insights into the letter and the family's anguish from Elizabeth's dad, Ed Smart. Then, Court TV anchor, former prosecutor Nancy Grace, high-profile defense attorney Mark Geragos, world- renowned forensic expert Dr. Henry Lee, criminologist and profiler Casey Jordan, and covering the smart case on the scene in Salt Lake City, Heidi Hatch of KTVX. All that and your calls next on LARRY KING LIVE.

We begin with Ed Smart in Salt Lake City, who earlier today announced that the family had received a letter indicating someone wants to negotiate the release of his daughter. When did you get this letter, Ed?

SMART: Well, yesterday, I picked the letter up. I had received the letter -- I had heard about the letter from someone who had collected some of the mail. And there have been a number of people that have collected mail. I heard about the letter. I heard that it basically was being given as evidence. I wanted to know what was in it. I went up and picked it up. They said it had been faxed to the police office. And so, I assumed that they had received it.

I had also spoken with the FBI about it. And basically, the information in there -- it was the first anonymous letter that I have received. And the letter basically stated that they wanted to release Elizabeth. In there, it described a couple of things about Elizabeth which didn't seem credible to me. And so I was trying to make the point that the reason I was bringing this forward was that I do want to hear from the perpetrator or the captor. I want Elizabeth back and I want do whatever it's going to take to bring her back.

KING: The letter was addressed to you?

SMART: It was addressed to the parents of Elizabeth Smart.

KING: And what -- haven't you received other type mail, anonymous mail, crank mail?

SMART: This is the first anonymous letter that I've seen.

KING: Really?

SMART: Particularly where they've -- yes, it is the first anonymous letter that I've seen where somebody is asked -- said that they want to release Elizabeth, but they wanted -- wanted to negotiate her release so that they wouldn't be implicated.

KING: The statements made about Elizabeth that did not seem credible, if that's true, why even introduce it?

SMART: The point that I tried to make earlier was that, I haven't heard from a perpetrator. I haven't seen an anonymous letter before. I want to hear from him. I want to be able to get Elizabeth back and this was the first time that I've heard from anyone out there, particularly anonymously. And, you know, they were trying to say that they did have Elizabeth and that they wanted to release her. And, I mean, that's what I want. I want her to be released. But I also want...

KING: What, Ed, did they ask -- I'm sorry, go ahead.

SMART: But what I would want them to do is to give me some credible evidence regarding her so that, you know, I know that they have her.

KING: Like if she could tell me them about something that was hers of a personal nature in the house and they could then communicate that to you.

SMART: Exactly.

KING: What did they ask you to do, Ed? I mean, how did they end the letter?

SMART: You know, basically, that they wanted to release Elizabeth but...

KING: If you would do what? If you would do what?

SMART: Basically, I really can't go into the absolute details of it, Larry. But, in essence, they didn't want to be implicated.

KING: By the way, would you be bold enough to say right now that if she were returned safely, you would ask authorities not to press charges?

SMART: I would certainly do whatever it takes to bring Elizabeth home. I would absolutely do whatever it takes to bring her home.

KING: What was encouraging about the letter? You had the discouraging that some things were said that didn't fit Elizabeth. What was encouraging?

SMART: I mean, the encouraging thing was that it was the first anonymous letter, that they did want to release her. They said that she was OK, and that they were anxious to release her. And I -- you know, with all of the attention that this story has had, I can't help but feel that whoever has her has got to be completely -- I mean, they've got to be afraid. They've got to be afraid of what is happening. And I just want to see her come home safely.

KING: Where is the original mail letter?

SMART: I have the original mail letter.

KING: And have the police seen that and looked at it for things like fingerprints, handwriting analysis and the like?

SMART: You know, I showed it to the police, but I still have it.

KING: They didn't take it?

SMART: They didn't take it.

KING: Was it well-written, cohesive?

SMART: Yes. It was cohesive. It was well written. It was typed.

KING: Did it give any reason for apprehending her, for taking her in the first place, if it wasn't asking for ransom money?

SMART: It gave me no reason, and I -- I just can't figure out the reason for taking her. I just can't comprehend why.

KING: So, where now do we go from here with this, Ed? All of the rewards still stand, right?

SMART: All the rewards are still out there. I am just hoping, I am pleading, I am begging with whoever has her out there to please send me a letter, please contact me, contact the -- the tips for cash line. That's an anonymous line that they won't be traced on. And please, please talk to me. Let me know what I can do to help bring her back. I want her back.

KING: When you spoke today, did you imply that it was a she that wrote the letter?

SMART: I did imply that it was a she that wrote the letter.

KING: And what was that based on?

SMART: That was based on the person telling me that they had received the letter -- that she had received the letter or had received a call from the kidnapper.

KING: And it sounded like a woman or there were things that were obvious that made it that the writer was a woman? SMART: It sounded like a woman. I mean, it said that she had received the letter.

KING: So, in other words, the kidnapper contact...

SMART: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) she had received the call. Yes, the call.

KING: So, the kidnapper or whoever called this lady and she then wrote to you.

SMART: Exactly.

KING: Did it sound like she knew the kidnapper well?

SMART: No. She indicated that she had no contact with him, you know, that she had an anonymous line and that she received the call that way.

KING: Was -- after -- there was no signature, then, right? If it's anonymous, there's no signature.

SMART: No, there was no signature, there was no -- nothing to indicate who it was.

KING: So you're asking this person, this woman, assumedly, to please do what now?

SMART: You know, I'm not asking this woman that sent the letter to do anything. What I am pleading with is that the captor, wherever he is, to please, please contact us. You know, I just want -- I want this to be over with. I want Elizabeth back, and I want to find out, you know, why. You know, please tell me why. I want to -- you know, I just want Elizabeth to know that we are still searching for her. We love her. We're not giving up hope.

KING: And you have to be encouraged just by the nature that a letter did come from someone saying they heard from someone. That is a...

SMART: I am.

KING: ... glistening candle of light in this.

SMART: That is.

KING: Good luck, Ed. We'll be in touch. We hope this bears a fruitful response.

SMART: Thank you, Larry. I really appreciate it.

KING: As always, Ed Smart, the father of Elizabeth Smart.

When we come back, our panel. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KING: We will, of course, be going to your calls in a little while. Nancy Grace in New York, anchor of "Trial Heat" on Court TV, former prosecutor. What do you make of this letter story today?

NANCY GRACE, COURT TV: Well, first of all, Larry, I agree with you. I'd like to know of the wording of the letter itself would indicate this so-called go-between has intimate knowledge of Elizabeth or her kidnapping. In other words, facts and details that would suggest this is not a hoax. It also, Larry, supports the theory of a go-between in that the police are looking at several people, that the perp did not act alone, as does that Shriners Hospital video. But I think police, I find it very unusual that they do not have the original letter to get fingerprints, fibers, even possible DNA off the back of the stamp or the seal on the back of the envelope.

KING: Is that because, Mark, they don't put any credibility in this?

MARK GERAGOS, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I think that's clear. I mean, I hate to be the wet towel on what is hopefully some kind of an optimistic sign, but it has all the earmarks of not only a hoax, but somebody who is disturbed to sending something along.

I mean, the fact that it's typewritten, that it's somebody who is anonymous, that they claim that they got a call on an anonymous phone line, that even Ed says himself that there is two portions of this thing that do not seem credible in terms of his own daughter. That has all the earmarks are somebody who is just psychologically disturbed to sending something along.

KING: Dr. Lee, what you do make of it?

DR. HENRY LEE, FORENSIC EXPERT: Well, I think the police probably have the letter because the postmark is July 3. And today, you know, July 13, 10 days later, they announced the letter. They probably already studied the letter and tried to trace the letter. Of course, the mail (UNINTELLIGIBLE) on the letter, we can know -- find out which post office mailed it out. The typewriter we can trace to the typewriter, just like Nancy and Mark talked about, the DNA, fingerprint. And don't forget, also, we can do psycholinguistic analysis, look at writing, try to point out. But more likely, they figure out this is a hoax.

(CROSSTALK)

KING: By the way, the date is the 10th, today.

GERAGOS: Yes, today is the 10th. And I think, you know, if it was mailed on the 3rd, the 4th was a holiday. We had a couple of weekend days. It's entirely possible, given the U.S. mail, if was in the mail, that they didn't get it until today. So, I don't know. The other thing is that the police...

LEE: If they mailed today, they -- the mail -- they received it...

GERAGOS: I mean, it was mailed on the 3rd and they received it today, the 10th, and you had the weekend and the Fourth of July.

LEE: Then the police should get the letter, instead of give it to Mr. Smart.

(CROSSTALK)

GRACE: Smart has the letter. He just told us. Police don't even have the letter. And we can sit back and armchair quarterback that it's a hoax. But they need to be following up on this and not bungle this the way they sat on that video.

LEE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) they should follow the letter.

KING: Casey Jordan in New York is a criminologist, specializes in violent offender and pattern typology, teaches at Western Connecticut State University, and has been a consultant for police departments. What do you make of this, Casey?

CASEY JORDAN, CRIMINOLOGIST: This needs to be looked at very, very carefully. However, I would argue that Mark is probably the closest to the mark, based on what we know about similar cases. There is a lot of things here that don't jibe, that make me worry that it's a hoax. But I agree with Nancy, that it's unfathomable to me that the actual physical letter is still in the possession of the father. It needs to be sent to a lab immediately.

KING: Wouldn't you though, Casey, be encouraged if you were the parent, at least, it's saying something that she might be alive?

JORDAN: Any parent in this situation would have to hold on to any glimmer of hope. I would really, really, really be anxious to know what the content of the letter is, and be very focused on the wording, the phrasing, syntax, punctuation. The phrasing of difference sentences is, in my book, extremely important to determining whether this is a credible person or not. You can look at all the physical and trace evidence. That's extremely important too. But just to figure out whether you should have a lot of hope or not, I would really to like to see the content of the letter. And I think it says a lot that Mr. Smart himself is incredulous and thinks that this might be a hoax.

KING: Heidi Hatch, are we ever going to see the letter? Is it -- are we going to ever see it in print or on television or have it read to us, do you think?

HEIDI HATCH, KTVX REPORTER: From what I've seen with the investigation so far, I really don't think that we're going to see it. I think the only chance of seeing that is if maybe the family had it at the press conference today. But the investigators have been very quiet. We obviously haven't seen them for a long time out here talking to us. And they said they wouldn't come out here, show us anything, do anything, unless they had something very important to show us.

What I think this does do is, like we were saying, it gives the Smart family I think a little bit of hope. And even if it is a hoax, I think it's probably helping the family because everyone out here has been talking over the last few days that it's very difficult to put stories on the air every day when there is nothing going on. And the family, I'm sure, is hoping that every day, there is something out there so that people are remembering about Elizabeth and thinking about it. So, this is going to help them, I think.

KING: Why would the police, Nancy, dismiss it out of hand?

GRACE: You know, Larry, I find that very disturbing. But we've seen the same thing happen with the Shriners Hospital video. Somewhere, somebody sitting at their police desk discounted that video. And you know what? Maybe they're right. But you never know until you fully investigate whether this is a hoax or not.

And, also, regarding Mr. Smart saying that there were some incredible comments made regarding Elizabeth, we don't know what those were. It could be something to the tune of she's very happy where she is, she doesn't want to come home, things that he would think are incredible. But that doesn't necessarily mean this is a hoax.

KING: That's a good point, isn't it, Mark?

GERAGOS: Well, yes. But the irony of this is -- I hate to be in a position where Nancy is attacking the police and I'm defending the police. But the fact of the matter is...

KING: A switch.

GERAGOS: It is a switch. The fact of the matter is that you can take -- if do you this kind of stuff for very long, they can take a look at the letter. They can take a look at whether or not there is bold print, whether there is caps, whether there is run-ons, whether or not -- you can tell pretty quickly whether there is somebody who is paranoid schizophrenic, whether it's somebody who is in the throes of some kind of a mental disease or disorder. They can do that...

GRACE: Well, you know what? I don't recall hearing that they called in an expert, Mark, to make those determinations.

GERAGOS: Well, if they took a look at it, Nancy, and they didn't think it was significant, I tend to believe that the FBI has got enough going for it that they are not going to just dismissively throw it out of hand. I just think -- I think -- that would be incredulous.

(CROSSTALK)

GRACE: No stone unturned.

LEE: Nancy...

GERAGOS: I just think that's hard to believe.

KING: Dr. Lee, go ahead?

LEE: Well, if it was my cases, given a (UNINTELLIGIBLE), we try to keep in the file. That's a piece of physical evidence. And if somebody say in the letter and it's a hoax, we should investigate too because this is a serious matter. Somebody's daughter was kidnapped, and you can't let the public just send them all those hoax-like (ph) letter and the investigator is going to spend all of the resources and energy to follow those leads. So, the letter should turn to the police and kept as a piece of evidence.

KING: Is it possible, Casey, that the police leak out that it doesn't matter, but they are looking heavily at it?

JORDAN: Yes. It's incredibly possible because good police investigators will always have hold-backs, very important critical pieces of information from the evidence that is never released to the public, so that if they do get a suspect, they can differentiate the hoax from the true person.

I think the thing that bothers me most about the content of the letter, based on what Ed has told us, is that they are contacting the parents of the missing child to negotiate immunity. And, generally, it's common knowledge that the parents have nothing to do with helping you from being implicated, that you need to be in touch with police and with the D.A. if you hope for any kind of negotiating or plea bargaining. So, you're either dealing with somebody who is completely out of touch with reality, doesn't watch television or is just making the whole thing up.

KING: We'll take a break and come back. We'll go to your calls in a little while on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Stay right there.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Heidi Hatch of KTVX-TV, covering it for that station and for us tonight in Salt Lake City, the Rick Ricci thing, is he going to be indicted tomorrow?

HATCH: From what I understand, the attorney called our station this afternoon and said the papers would be in by at least 2:00 tomorrow in the afternoon for both theft and burglary charges. So, from what we hear, it will be tomorrow.

KING: Do you think, Heidi, he could the Richard Jewell in this story, the guy who didn't do it?

HATCH: Anything's -- he's either the luckiest man in the world or the unluckiest. And which one it is, I don't know. I mean, we all talk about it every day, and I think we all go back and forth with the information we give us and what we think. And, obviously, we don't have all the information police have, but there is a lot of circumstantial evidence that would point in his direction right now.

KING: Nancy, does he diminish in your mind or not?

GRACE: Well, one thing about these upcoming charges, of course, the grand jury has got to hand down an indictment tomorrow, then it'll be sent to the clerk, that happens around 2:00 in the afternoon, after they meet in the morning. But one thing about the indictment, it will blow apart Angela Ricci's alibi potential because if he is indicted on the Smart burglary, you know, previous to the alleged abduction and other burglaries there in the neighborhood, this shows she has no idea what her husband has been doing in his spare time. Therefore, what would she have known about what he was doing the night of the abduction? As far the burglary indictment will relate to the Smart case, I think that's the greatest impact it has.

KING: Mark?

GERAGOS: You know, I don't know. I think it's an overstatement by Nancy, surprising as that may be, that this is going to somehow blow apart Angela Ricci. Angela Ricci, as I think even Nancy would concede, appears to be a pretty credible person. She thinks that he was in there, that he was sleeping. I think the thing that would blow Angela Ricci's statement...

GRACE: I don't concede that.

GERAGOS: ... out of the water, if there was, is if somebody comes forward, as they have at least on TV, and said that she was out there surveying the neighborhood, trying to find somebody to -- whether or not they saw him. That to me is more damning than the fact that he's already admitted that he burglarized the place because he's out there...

GRACE: Yes, I'll say that.

KING: He's not going to be charged with burglarizing that night, right?

GERAGOS: Right. It's clearly not going to be for that night. I mean, it's going to be -- they're going to base this indictment or the complaint -- is going to be predicated on his admission that he had gone in prior to that evening and had burglarized the place. That's what distinguishes him also from Richard Jewell. Remember, Richard Jewell was somebody who didn't do anything. I mean, this guy comes with a lot of baggage. So, it's not exactly somebody who is going to be heroic if he only gets charged burglary.

KING: Dr. Lee, is he high on your suspect list, from your vantage point?

LEE: Well, at my vantage point, everybody is suspect until you eliminate them. Of course, Richard Jewell, that's a separate story. With Ricci, they only can charge him with burglary. They don't have direct physical evidence link. No direct witness can tie him to the case.

Of course, once charged with burglary, of course, they try to buy him time, hopefully find additional evidence. Meanwhile, some of the physical evidence stays proverbially (ph) still in the laboratory, looking at it and still looking for some witness. With post award money, hopefully, somebody will come forward with some information. KING: Casey, did they -- by giving the burglary charges, did they try to plea bargain with him to get him to confess to the other thing and maybe work a sentence deal?

JORDAN: They may be trying that, but I think that would be a little bit disingenuous because he has a long history with the law. He's not stupid. He knows how to negotiate and I think he is really using these confessions to the burglary and his cooperation with the polygraph as a red herring to try to make -- I think he's trying to act like the perfect innocent person by cooperating.

He could be indeed an innocent person, but the sort of perpetrator you would want to look who would do this sort of crime would probably have the sort of history that Ricci has. So I think the police are on the right track with him and other people who have histories such as his.

KING: So, he looks to you, as a criminologist, like a likely suspect?

JORDAN: Based on what I have read and what I know, yes, he would be very high on my list.

KING: Heidi, when he...

HATCH: I think one of the...

KING: I'm sorry. Go ahead.

HATCH: I was just going to say I think one of the most interesting things that most of us here in Salt Lake are looking for is are these charges from when he was actually working at the home or does he have a pattern now of going back to the home after he was finished working there. And also, finding out if in those papers, the charging documents tomorrow, what the items are that he took from the home because that might make a difference or a bearing on the case. If it was, you know, just a couple of stupid items or something that might be something of Elizabeth's or, I mean, that's just speculation.

GERAGOS: Absolutely. Absolutely.

HATCH: But I think everyone is interested to see tomorrow what those items are and if they would have any connection to the case.

KING: And, Heidi, if he's indicted tomorrow, as expected, he will then have to appear publicly, right? He'll have to be arraigned. He'll have to plead.

HATCH: Well, the way it works here in Utah, from what I understand from covering the courts, he will not necessarily have to appear in court. They could just do it through the televised system they have where the judge would talk to him from a monitor out of the Utah state prison.

GERAGOS: Yes, they could do the video arraignment...

HATCH: So, we may never see him in person.

GERAGOS: Right. They could do the video arraignment. But Heidi's absolutely right. If they come up with that this is a burglary that took place after he left the employ, and if he's got something of hers, there's enough probable cause to get him on the kidnapping itself. That may not be enough to get a conviction, but certainly that's enough for probable cause on the new or the instant case.

KING: Would you say, Dr. Lee, that they haven't made any connection between the automobile like or found any fibers and the like that link it after all this time?

LEE: Well, if they're just indicting him for burglary, I doubt they have any direct connection yet. And I'm sure they still continue to examine that, hopefully can connect directly or indirectly.

KING: So, Nancy, right now, they don't have anything regarding this child and him that they could go to court with?

GRACE: I would say no, no forensic tie because, you know, they released Michael Bret Edmunds' car. He can get that back. The only glimmering hope here is they have not released that Jeep. The other two cars belonging to or associated with Ricci have been released. They are holding on to it. But at this point, they have had time to get back DNA, fiber, hair, forensics results. If they had it, Larry, I can promise you there would be an indictment.

KING: Casey, what's the most puzzling aspect of this to you?

JORDAN: Probably the way the abduction was done. We don't usually see this sort of stranger, home invasion kidnapping, especially when a child is in bed with another -- with her sister. It is not -- certainly not unheard of. I think the Polly Klaas case really proves that. But it is extremely rare and it's probably about the most horrifying thing that could happen to parents. So, I just hope that they...

KING: Well said.

JORDAN: Yes.

KING: We're going to take a break, come back and go to your phone calls on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Sunday night on "LARRY KING WEEKEND," a very special look back at the life and times of Rod Steiger with our last interview with him. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back. Let's reintroduce our panel. In New York, Nancy Grace, the author -- the anchor, rather -- of "Trial Heat" on Court TV, former prosecutor.

In Los Angeles, defense attorney Mark Geragos. In New Haven, Connecticut, Dr. Henry Lee, the world-famed forensic expert, professor of forensic science at the University of New Haven, and author of "Cracking Cases: The Science of Solving Cases."

In New York is Casey Jordan, criminologist specializing in violent offender and pattern typology, teaches at Western Connecticut State and has been a consultant for the police.

And in Salt Lake City covering the story for KTVX-TV is Heidi Hatch.

We're going to go to your phones call. Jacksonville, Arkansas, hello.

CALLER: Yes, Larry. I would like to know if the kidnapper wanted immunity in exchange for the safe return of Elizabeth, can the authorities give them that immunity?

GERAGOS: Absolutely.

KING: Nancy, can they?

GRACE: The authorities, yes, can give him that immunity. The family, however, cannot.

You know, when I was prosecuting, very often I would take the -- well every time, especially in felony cases -- take the decision of the family, the victims, into mind.

However, they don't have the right to bargain for the state. So it would be up to authorities. And yes, they could grant immunity if they so choose.

KING: Mark, if you were a prosecutor, and it came to you that this child is OK, was treated very well, was not sexually attacked. It was just someone who was crazy about her.

GERAGOS: If I -- if I personally were the prosecutor, I'd do it in a heartbeat. I don't know of a whole lot of prosecutors that would.

And I understand their reasoning ...

KING: In return for the return ...

GERAGOS: ... behind it. In return for -- most prosecutors would say, no, they're not going to reward somebody for obeying the law.

KING: To Cincinnati, Ohio -- hello.

CALLER: Yes, hi, Larry.

KING: Hi.

CALLER: I'd like to ask the panel, do they believe -- or do they, in their opinion -- do they believe that the Smart family is helping or hurting the, you know, by holding the daily news conferences.

Would it not be better that, if they would let it to the authorities, because they are trained to negotiate and everything.

GERAGOS: No. It was interesting. Larry just brought that up on the last break when we were talking about it.

The family, I think, does a real service to their cause by having out there every day some kind of a story, something to keep this issue alive.

There's so many thousands of kids that are missing across the U.S. that cannot get the attention, can't get the media focus, can't get the volunteers out there, can't get the reward money.

This is a way for them to keep it alive. And if they've got to do it on a daily basis, have some kind of an issue or some kind of news, so be it. I think it's a wonderful thing.

KING: Casey Jordan, do you agree with that?

JORDAN: I agree that if this happened to a child of mine, I would be screaming and stomping my feet and doing everything to get on the news every single day.

But what I worry about is the inequity of which families do get the media attention when their children go missing. And the thousands of children who get no attention whatsoever. That's very bothersome to me.

But no, I think the families are in the best position to advocate for their missing child, more than investigators and police are, yes.

KING: Dr. Lee, police are now telling CNN that breaking the case could take an indefinite amount of time. And according to our sources there, they sound a lot less optimistic than previously.

What do you make of that?

LEE: Well, I guess they probably follow all the lead, hotly already. The others lead apparently ran to dead end.

Of course, the family appeared on media. Basically, investigation, we use some technique, too, to let the public awareness help, hopefully, have some information come back to develop new information and continue investigation.

Here, basically, they have a couple potential suspects. One after another appeared to be a dead end.

So they really need for some information, and sometime have to go back to drawing board to re-examine, use logic, analysis, try to see why -- the reason for kidnapping.

And second, why the screen was cut from inside. The third, if she is still alive, where she, her hiding her. If she, unfortunately something happen, why they search extensively, did not find a body.

So all those have to sit down carefully, systematically study. KING: Heidi, from what you hear on the scene, are they going back to square one?

HATCH: You know, we haven't heard a lot from investigators. The family's been out here every day. But we just don't have a lot from police right now. And my assumption is, if we're not hearing from them, there really isn't anything right now.

We have the burglary charges coming up, but they say those are not connected to the case. And I know everyone here is hoping still for a happy ending, or some kind of closure at least.

But it's not something that seems to be in the near future, at least from what we're hearing from investigators, which is not much ...

KING: Floral ...

HATCH: ... right now.

KING: ... yeah, Floral Park, New York -- hello.

CALLER: Nancy Grace, please.

KING: Yes.

CALLER: Could this letter today be a red herring to take the focus off Rick Ricci? Thank you.

GRACE: Yes, it could be a red herring. But when you get down to the bottom of that theory, who the heck would send in a red herring letter to exonerate Richard Ricci? That's a problem with that theory.

But of course, it is taking the heat off him, ...

KING: Well, maybe a cousin.

GRACE: ... unless -- unless an associate of his sent the letter.

But another thing regarding the police rumors that it could take an indefinite amount of time to crack the case, the cold, hard truth -- to me -- if that rumor is true, is that Richard Ricci is not the guy.

KING: Mark, that would have to be the case, right, if that backs ...

GERAGOS: Exactly.

KING: ... his story.

GERAGOS: It's not the most optimistic thing you could hear.

If they're announcing or letting it be known -- because usually when you hear, according to police sources, that's somebody who deliberately wants that word out for whatever reason. And if you hear at the same time, according to police sources, tomorrow -- or according to his lawyer tomorrow -- they're going to either indict or file a complaint against them, that's certainly not encouraging.

KING: Casey, who does this kind of thing? That not wanting ransom, goes into a house and takes someone.

What kind of criminal does this?

JORDAN: In my studies and in my experience, it's most likely going to be a sexually related crime, a predatory crime, simply because of the attractive, young victim.

This was not a random crime in my estimation. And I think that it was probably thought about in advance -- certainly not carefully planned. Perhaps there was a break-in for a burglary, and then there was an impulsive kidnapping.

But I'm not very hopeful for the safety of Elizabeth at this point, because of the amount of time that has passed.

I don't think that it was a well-planned, ransom-oriented kidnapping at all.

KING: We'll take a break and be back with more calls on this edition of "LARRY KING LIVE." Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back with our panel, and back to your phone calls. Minnetonka, Minnesota, hello.

CALLER: Hello, Larry.

KING: Hi.

CALLER: My question is, whether this anonymous letter is credible or a hoax, is it now likely that more hoax letters will be sent due to the publicity?

KING: Is that a good bet now, Heidi?

HATCH: If you're not even just looking at this case, I think it is possible. Any other crime, I mean, copycats happen all the time.

Once you hear it on TV, it kind of gives permission to other people to start doing it.

I would hope that wouldn't happen, because that takes the focus off what police need to be doing, but very possible, as we see with all kinds of news stories.

KING: Do you all agree on that, Nancy? We could see copycats ...

GRACE: Yeah, yeah.

LEE: Yes, I ...

GRACE: Yeah, the floodgates are open. Now nobody will care about the pain and the torture this causes the Smart family.

The floodgates are open. There will be more letters. And apparently the police are going to discount them as hoaxes without even getting the original.

That's what dumbfounds me.

KING: Beaumont, Texas, hello. Oh, I ought to hit the button. Thank you, Larry.

Beaumont, Texas, hello.

CALLER: Hi. This question is for Nancy.

KING: Yeah.

CALLER: I would like to know, if this letter is found to be a hoax, what charges could be brought against the person that sent it?

GRACE: Interesting, because you're sending a letter to a private individual, but they've also faxed it. And don't tell me they can't trace where that fax came from, private or public. You can just trot on down to the Kinko's and get the fax number.

But when you send something like that to police, that is a false report. And whoever did that is looking at a misdemeanor. That's 12 months behind bars.

KING: Grand ...

HATCH: It wasn't actually faxed, though, from what I understand.

KING: It wasn't? I thought they said it was.

HATCH: No. The letter was mailed to them. The person who opened the letter then faxed it to the police department.

KING: Oh, I see.

HATCH: So, not the person who sent the letter. So they wouldn't be able to trace ...

GRACE: Darn, that's a ...

HATCH: ... that just from the postmark on the (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...

GRACE: ... that's a really good point. So now they've got to go on the postmark. In any event ...

LEE: And postmark, they still can ... HATCH: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

GRACE: ... in any event ...

LEE: ... they probably still can trace.

GRACE: ... it's still a misdemeanor false report. And they can go ...

KING: Sorry, ...

GRACE: ... straight to the can.

KING: ... Dr. Lee, what did you say?

LEE: Yeah, the postmark definitely can trace to the post office where they mailed the letter. Of course, if it's a stamp, they licked the envelope, licked the envelope, then we can find DNA on it.

And definitely finger print. Like often, we traced a letter through the fingerprint analysis and regular forensic work.

KING: Grand Rapids, Michigan, hello.

CALLER: Hi, Larry, thanks.

KING: Hi.

CALLER: I'm wondering how the three strikes law applies to Richard Ricci in this case. Does it help or hinder the prosecution? Or does it give Ricci more leverage? Or how does that work?

KING: Do they have that in Utah, Mark?

GERAGOS: Well, I can't -- I can't tell you off the top of my head if they've got a three strikes law in Utah. I know that they -- that if he were here in California, and it was a three strikes law, it helps in the sense that they can threaten you with the ultimate penalty, which is a life sentence.

And then if you think that's going to give you some kind of a negotiating leverage, it's helpful. So if they've got it there, that would be extremely helpful.

I think at this point, the reason they're filing him tomorrow is, the charges tomorrow, in any event, is that they need to hold him, because they've -- all they've got so far is a parole violation based upon his drinking.

And that generally is not going to get them a whole lot of time on the violation. So now they need to take some action.

KING: Heidi, is there a three strikes law in Utah?

HATCH: Not that I'm aware of, but I could be wrong. I do understand that once they file these they will have at least, I think, 18 months.

After that, if he is convicted with these, I think it could be up to 20 years, I've heard. But can't quote me on that. I'm not exactly positive.

But it could be a significant amount of time they could hold him with these charges now.

GRACE: Hold on...

KING: Newbury...

GRACE: ... just a moment ...

KING: I'm sorry, ...

GRACE: ... Larry.

KING: ... go ahead.

GRACE: Another tricky thing about parole is, if your parole is revoked -- Heidi's correct -- on a burglary in that jurisdiction you can get 20 years behind bars. Probably won't serve it all.

But the kicker is, the burglary would then revoke his parole status.

He was behind bars for a shooting -- shooting of a cop. And there is a life sentence attached to that. So he could be revoked ...

KING: Yeah.

GRACE: ... on his parole, and get the life with standing -- all left over from that shooting.

KING: Newbury Park, California, hello.

CALLER: Hi, Larry. I have a question for Heidi Hatch.

KING: Yeah.

CALLER: I wanted to know if the mud analysis on the Jeep have been traced back to any area, or what they could find from that.

HATCH: If it has, we have not heard about it. Investigators really haven't talked to us since they obtained the Jeep, and told us anything. They are keeping all their forensic evidence to themselves, haven't said anything at all.

So, if they do, it's not something we've heard about.

LEE: Well, ...

KING: Casey, if -- would they make that announcement -- I'm sorry, Dr. Lee. You want to respond? LEE: Yeah, because those would take a little bit of time to do the soil analysis. First they have to collect all the known samples from different areas before you can do any comparison.

Just look at the Jeep. Yes, we can tell what kind of organic compounds, inorganic compounds, what type of soil.

But to compare to a specific location, they have to go different places to collect known samples.

KING: Yeah.

Casey, what do the police -- when do they usually tell us things? Is there a rule of thumb?

JORDAN: No. And it varies dramatically from department to department. They all have their individual policies and procedures and philosophies about how to conduct such an investigation.

I -- my biggest hope is that they are cooperating fully with the FBI to do the physical analysis, that they'll admit their limitations in terms of their expertise, especially in terms of their lab and so on, and go to outside sources when they're at fault.

But in policing there's always territory and turf issues. So, I really do hope that they're proceeding with that mud analysis, because I think that's going to be the biggest clue to finding where she is.

KING: We'll take a break and be back with our final moments and more phone calls. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Let's go, take another call. Anderson, South Carolina -- hello.

CALLER: Yes, Larry, I would like to know how much insurance the Smart family had on Elizabeth. And if that ...

KING: Do we know that?

CALLER: ... has been looked at.

KING: Has anyone looked at that? Do we know that? Does anyone know that?

GERAGOS: I don't know. I don't know it. I don't know if anybody on the panel does.

I know, or I would be shocked, if the police hadn't looked into that. And that's generally something, when they start off looking at the family and looking at ...

KING: Those (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...

GERAGOS: ... the families involved, it's one of the first questions that they usually ask.

KING: Heidi, do you have any knowledge, being on the scene?

HATCH: We don't. And I think if they knew that, they wouldn't be telling us anyways, right now with how they are running the investigation.

KING: Minneapolis, hello.

CALLER: Yes, it had been reported that the Smart home was up for sale.

And I'm wondering if anyone knows why. Was it a job transfer situation? Were they moving out of state?

Also, what line of work is Mr. Smart in?

KING: Heidi?

HATCH: I don't know if I'm exactly sure here. I think it has something to do with mortgage investments. I believe they ...

KING: Yeah.

HATCH: ... were listing their own house and selling it. Maybe had a few financial issues, but I don't think they were moving out of state or anything like that, but I can't speak for the family there. I'm not positive.

KING: Mortgage investments, I think, was -- is ...

GERAGOS: My understanding is that he's a mortgage banker, and that the -- that's his livelihood, and that he was selling the house, and they were not moving out of state.

KING: Nancy, how long is this story, without an arrest dealing with it, run with regard to public interest?

GRACE: Unfortunately, as soon as the high moments of the investigation cease, the interest will be gone. The only people interested at that point will be the family and a few dedicated police officers.

And at that point, that's when it's the hardest to keep going, I know as a prosecutor.

And that's why the Smart family stays at the forefront, because all it takes is one witness to crack this case.

KING: Yeah. Casey, you agree with that?

JORDAN: I do. And sadly, I think what I have seen in the past is that this case is staying in the forefront as long as it's a slow news month. And then when you have another terrible crime, tragedy, that will kick this to the side, and that will be our new headline.

KING: Brookline, Massachusetts, hello.

CALLER: Hi. I just wondered if Ricci would be in a grapevine of prisoners and ex-prisoners, and so forth. And I wondered if he maybe knows who's doing it, or who did it, but, you know, isn't saying anything?

KING: Could he? That ...

GERAGOS: It's entirely possible. Everything that I've heard is, especially in this community, the prison parolees are a fairly tight- knit group.

They generally all go to the same parole office. They have a limited number of parole agents. And yes, they are commonly, in all communities, they are a pretty close group.

KING: Do not convicts hate perpetrators of this type?

GERAGOS: This is the absolute bottom of the totem pole when it comes to a prisoner. I mean, a guy who's convicted of a crime like this, or is even accused of a crime like this, generally does not last long in a penal institution.

KING: What's been the interest of your station, Heidi? Where in the news does it play every night?

HATCH: You know, I think it's been played very high every night, except for maybe last week where there were some serious fires in the state, threatening homes and different power grids. And so that night I think the power and the fire problems played a little higher.

But there is still very high interest here. Like we've been talking about, though, there's not always a lot to talk about every day.

But everyone is very closely -- it is a very close-knit state. I think people care about the family and want to know what's going on every night.

KING: Dr. Lee, do investigators like the fact that it remains high on the public profile?

LEE: Yes, definite that investigator will continue, but besides the investigator, police, family, have to add forensic scientists.

We do continue working on, even the case...

KING: Yeah, I mean, ...

LEE: ... very cold (ph).

KING: ... whether you like it, that it leads the news or that it's a big story every night.

LEE: Yes.

KING: That helps you.

LEE: That really helps.

KING: Or if it hurts you.

LEE: Really help, because the investigation, as I always say, need the public information, crime scene, physical evidence and a little luck.

So public information plays an important factor.

KING: Sometimes luck plays a big factor...

GERAGOS: I think it's amazing how often luck plays a big factor in these cases.

KING: Somebody spots something somewhere, and a guy driving...

GERAGOS: And that's...

KING: ... and at a diner, and...

GERAGOS: ... exactly. And nobody would have known it. I can't tell you the number of cases from a defense standpoint where we've been able to find a witness, merely because there's been some kind of publicity about the case.

And then later on you end up winning the case because of that.

KING: Nancy, how many cases percentage-wise are never solved?

GRACE: Oh, many, many cases are never solved. Well over 30 percent of cases that we know of are never solved.

But one last thing, Larry -- I know we've got to go -- a lot of ...

KING: No, we've got a minute.

GRACE: ... a lot of people have discounted what's going to go down tomorrow, we think, those burglaries indictments against Ricci.

But I say, this is a major clue, because tomorrow, once we read that indictment and the attending police reports, we're going to find out Richard Ricci's M.O.

Is he a cat burglar? Is he willing to go into a home while people are inside asleep and take whatever he wants?

If so, we're going to get an insight into Richard Ricci.

GERAGOS: Right. If these are not items that he just pilfered when he was working there, and if these are items that he came back and got and stole after he was either terminated or left, ...

GRACE: Yeah. GERAGOS: ... that is -- that's highly significant.

GRACE: Huge.

GERAGOS: And it makes a big difference to this case.

KING: Casey, you agree?

JORDAN: Absolutely. And I need to caution people about thinking that property crime and violent crime are never related.

You very often see in crimes of this sort, a perpetrator with a history of prowling cat burglary, breaking and entering, minor crimes that escalate to that kind of crime.

KING: Thank you all very much. Nancy Grace of "Trial Heat" on Court TV, defense attorney Mark Geragos, the world-famed forensic expert Dr. Henry Lee, criminologist Casey Jordan, and newscaster Heidi Hatch, covering the Smart story for KTVX-TV.

We thank them all very much. I'm Larry King. Tell you about an upcoming show right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Don't forget, this Sunday night a very special show. We're going to rebroadcast our interview with the late Rod Steiger.

Rod Steiger and an extraordinary discussion of acting on Sunday night.

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





 
 
 
 


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