Search Fails to Discover Clues to Abduction
SALT LAKE CITY - Despite thousands of telephone tips from throughout the United States, police said yesterday they were no closer to identifying a suspect in the predawn kidnapping of a 14-year-old girl from her bedroom.
No one — including the parents — has been ruled out as a suspect, Salt Lake City Police Chief Rick Dinse said.
About 1,300 volunteers fanned out yesterday in the upscale neighborhood and foothills and canyons near the home where Elizabeth Ann Smart was kidnapped at gunpoint early Wednesday. At the same time, investigators sorted through possible leads.
An initial reward of $10,000 had swelled to $250,000 by yesterday.
"We have a lot more information — a lot of things that have not panned out," Dinse said.
Volunteers included teenagers on in-line skates, men in business suits and housewives in hiking boots.
"This is something that is affecting the entire community," Mayor Rocky Anderson said. "This community is hurting."
A young woman from Norway who had been lingering in Salt Lake City after the Winter Olympics said she was caught up in the city's response to the kidnapping.
"I don't have children, but I have sisters," Stine Hellerud said. "Even though I don't live here, I felt like I had to help and maybe make a difference."
Elizabeth's parents, Edward and Lois Smart, appearing stressed and exhausted, pleaded for their daughter's safe return.
"We just can't even fathom who it is or why they took her," Edward Smart, a real-estate and mortgage broker, told CNN. "She's as near perfect as a daughter can be. She plays the harp. She loved everyone. I don't know of any enemies that she has, or any people who would want to harm her."
Elizabeth was taken about 2 a.m. Wednesday after the abductor apparently entered the three-story house through an unlocked window; the parents and all six children were asleep. The kidnapper entered the bedroom shared by Elizabeth and her 9-year-old sister, and ordered the younger girl to remain quiet.
The 14-year-old was taken away wearing her red satin pajamas after she was allowed to grab shoes.
The younger girl told her parents two hours later, and they called police. She described the suspect as soft-spoken, 5-foot-8, white, with dark hair, wearing a light-colored, denim-type jacket and a white baseball cap.
Concerned that police were slow to react, Ed Smart called church friends for help.
"Ed said he felt the police weren't responding fast enough," said David Hamblin, who leads the Arlington Hills ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. "He said they thought Elizabeth was a runaway."
Detectives who searched the Smart house Wednesday examined the family computer to see if the teen had had online contact with strangers.