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L.A. County Supervisor Holds Press Conference

Aired August 1, 2002 - 14:04   ET


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Now to the outskirts of Los Angeles where an overnight kidnapping at a teenage make-out spot has triggered a state-wide search and a federal investigation. Police say Jaqueline Marris and Tamera Brooks were taken away at gunpoint, and their companions were tied up with duct tape. It happened in the suburb of Lancaster, some 60 miles northeast of the city.
CNN's Casey Wian is live from the scene -- Casey.

CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kyra, as you mentioned earlier this hour, we are still waiting for a sheriff's news conference. It could happen any minute, and if it does happen, we will go directly to that. What we know right now is, as you mentioned, two girls, Tamera Brooks, age 16 and Jaqueline Marris, age 17, were kidnapped early this morning, about 2:00 a.m. from a local Lover's Lane area near here in what is called Quartz Hill.

The girls were local high school students. We don't know if they knew each other, but we do know that they were in separate cars. At some point, they were approached by a man, the only description we have of him is he is described as a Hispanic male. Now, of course, Hispanic can mean a lot of different things in terms of both physical description and voice, things like that.

We don't know what police are basing that description on, but he is described by police as a Hispanic male. He apparently at some point in the night took the two girls' male companions and and tied them up, took them out of their cars and tied them up. He then took the girls in one of the boyfriends' cars, which you can -- I believe we have a picture of it, you can see it here. One of the boys described what happened.


QUESTION: Did he say anything to you at all?

JOSHUA BROWN, VICTIM'S FRIEND: Yes, he told me he was going to kill me.

QUESTION: You say he also had a weapon.

BROWN: Yes, he had a semiautomatic pistol.

QUESTION: What did he say again to you? I'm sorry.

BROWN: He told me he was going to kill me, but he didn't want to. He actually just wanted to tie me up. He just wanted the truck, and then he started to run out of tape. I don't know, it was -- he said a lot of stuff. Mostly it was -- sounded like he was trying to decide whether to kill me or not.

QUESTION: Were you honestly scared? Were you scared?



WIAN: OK, now it looks like that press conference is getting ready to begin with L.A. County Sheriff's officials. We will let you listen in on that now.

MICHAEL ANTONOVICH, L.A. COUNTY SUPERVISOR: Just -- what we will be having is an offering of a $10,000 reward for the information leading to the arrest and conviction of those -- the individual who kidnapped these two young girls. As you know at last week's board meeting, we had had a motion moving forward for this Amber Alert, and we are you able to exercise that within the county. We want to thank the media for their participation in alerting the public. There is a learning curve as we implement this system, but we are working cooperatively with all of the parties, and we appreciate the media's attention to getting this information out so that we can find these two girls. But we give strong support to the sheriff's department for the fine job that they are doing in doing that. Thank you.





QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) after you had started, can you please repeat what you just said?

ANTONOVICH: OK. We will have a $10,000 reward for the arrest and conviction of the suspect who has kidnapped these two girls. We are also pleased that this Amber system is going into effect, and we appreciate the media's cooperation in providing information to the public so we can find these two girls as quickly as possible.


QUESTION: Is there an effort being made...

QUESTION: ... tell us about Amber Alert for those who aren't familiar with it?

ANTONOVICH: Amber Alert is where -- when we have verified information relative to the kidnapping of a child, of a person under 18, the media will be immediately alerted so that they can tell their listeners the description of the suspects so we can all work together cooperatively to find the person as rapidly as we can. And the faster we find them, the better it is that we can save the life of the victims.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) statewide, or national, or what?

ANTONOVICH: It is countywide, Orange County has that in operation. We would like to see it statewide. It is very important that we work cooperatively within the state of California. It is essential that it will become a state program.

QUESTION: Are you making efforts to gather more money together for this reward fund you are talking about?

ANTONOVICH: We would like to see this as the beginning. Everybody would be able to participate, so we have the reward to find the person.

QUESTION: Have you talked to the family members, the parents?

ANTONOVICH: No, I was up here at our regional transportation meeting building out the 14 and the 138 with meeting with CalTrans and our state officials.


ANTONOVICH: I have not heard, I have only talked to the sheriff personnel in charge of the investigation.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) is it for information, or do you need to find this girls before that reward kicks in?

ANTONOVICH: Well, it is finding those girls, but the information that will help lead up to finding them would be very, very important. OK.

WIAN: Kyra, we expected that news conference to be from sheriff's department officials, but that was in fact L.A. County -- Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich, talking about the state's Amber reward system -- alert system which has been put into place, and I can testify to that personally. Driving out here to this scene, earlier today, there were signs on the freeways coming out that described the vehicle that the suspect is in, a white Ford Bronco, it had the license plate number of the vehicle on the signs, and a phone number to call to contact the California Highway Patrol.

So that system -- today is the first time they have had a chance to use that system on a widespread basis. It is very much in effect. Now of course, the victims' family and family and friends, they are very much concerned. They have been coming here to sheriff's department headquarters to give whatever information they can. As we mentioned earlier, these two kidnapped victims were local high school students. One of their aunts spoke about what she would like them to do earlier. Here is what she had to say.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just want to say that, you know, if the girls are by chance listening, remember girls, you do what you can to get away. You kick him where you can. You head butt him. You bite him. You do whatever you do that can get you a chance of getting away, because there is two of you. You have got to remember that. There is two of you and one of him.


WIAN: Now, law enforcement officials aren't saying a whole lot about the case right now. One thing we did hear from an FBI official earlier today is that they are taking it as a good sign that this alleged kidnapper did not harm either of the two male companions. They say it is unusual for a kidnapper to take two victims the way he did, but they are taking it as a good sign that he did not harm any of the companions.

Where he could be -- it is anyone's guess where he could be. We do know that they have informed the Border Patrol, the border about three and a half hours south of here, to look out for this suspect. Beyond that, he could be anywhere, and the manhunt is throughout the western United States -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Casey Wian. Thank you so much.




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