by Michael Janofsky, New York Times
SALT LAKE CITY, June 12 A man with a criminal record who was
spotted near the home of a 14-year-old girl who was kidnapped at gunpoint
here last week became the focus of the case today as law enforcement
officials asked the public for information on his whereabouts.
The authorities said the man was not a suspect in the abduction of the
girl, Elizabeth Ann Smart, but was wanted for questioning by detectives.
The authorities have identified the man as Bret Michael Edmunds, 26,
has no known permanent address but who they believe is a transient who lives
in his car and may still be in the Salt Lake City area. Sgt. Fred Louis
the Salt Lake City Police Department said a milkman noticed him driving
slowly near the Smart family's house two days before the abduction and
called the authorities. The milkman, Charlie Miller, told them that the
was driving a 1997 green Saturn with a Utah license plate that included
That information was enough to lead detectives to Mr. Edmunds, who is
wanted on two warrants, one involving fraud and the other involving
assaulting a police officer.
Members of the Smart family said they were encouraged by the latest
development and believed a break in the case could be imminent. But Tom
Smart, the girl's uncle, who often speaks for the family, said Elizabeth's
relatives "don't know when `imminent' may be."
Sergeant Louis was careful in describing the interest in Mr. Edmunds.
He said the possibility that Mr. Edmunds was near the Smart house in
Federal Heights, combined with his criminal past, made him an obvious person
for detectives to interview. Late today, Sergeant Louis said, they still
not know where he was.
Sergeant Louis said Mr. Miller noticed Mr. Edmunds before the abduction,
which occurred after 1 a.m. Thursday.
In an interview today with CNN, Mr. Miller said he had read a newspaper
article in which the intruder was described as a man who wore a white
baseball cap. Mr. Miller said the man he saw in the car was wearing what
appeared to be such a cap. But he said Mr. Edmunds appeared to "fit the
small profile, low demeanor in sitting in the seat, not a big person."
That description seemed to conflict with one provided today by the
authorities. Sergeant Louis described Mr. Edmunds as a white man, 6-foot-2
and weighing about 235 pounds.
Mr. Smart said Elizabeth's parents, Edward and Lois, and other adults
the family had seen a photograph of Mr. Edmunds and had not recognized the
But Mr. Smart said he did not believe that the photo had yet been shown
to Elizabeth's younger sister, Mary Catherine, 9, who was in the bedroom
the time of the abduction.
The family has told investigators that the intruder warned Mary Catherine
not to tell her parents. Two hours after her sister was taken away, she
Interest in Mr. Edmunds came on a day when investigators scaled back
their search for Elizabeth, narrowing the focus to city neighborhoods near
the Smart house. For the last few days, investigators and volunteers had
expanded their search to as far as 50 miles in any direction from the
Mr. Edmunds is the second man the authorities have said they were seeking
for information. Last weekend, they released a composite sketch of a man
was quickly found and determined to have nothing to do with the case.