Father pleads for kidnapped Utah girl
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (CNN) -- The father of a 14-year-old Utah girl abducted from her home early Wednesday made a tearful plea for her release as police and the FBI launched a three-state search for her.
Elizabeth Smart was abducted at gunpoint from her home in an upscale Salt Lake City neighborhood about 1 a.m. Wednesday, police said.
"If you can hear me, Elizabeth is the sweetest girl. She's an angel," her father, Ed Smart, told reporters late Wednesday. "Please let her go. Please. I mean, she doesn't do anything to anyone, and there's no reason that you should have her."
Smart also had a message for his daughter: "Elizabeth, if you're out there, we're doing everything we possibly can to help you. We love you. We want you to come home safely to us."
Elizabeth was taken from the bedroom of the family home in the Federal Heights neighborhood in eastern Salt Lake City while her parents slept, Salt Lake City Police Chief Rick Dinse said. Her 9-year-old sister, in the same room, was threatened by the intruder and did not tell her parents until two hours later.
"He just threatened [the sister]. Apparently he told her he would kill her if she said anything," said Tom Smart, an uncle of the girls. "She was paralyzed and in shock for a couple of hours until she went in and talked with her dad. Then, her dad couldn't believe it either. He cased the house and then realized it was true."
In addition to the two girls, the Smarts have four boys, all of whom were in the home during the abduction.
"We have no reason to believe at this point that any family members are involved," Dinse said.
Ed Smart, a real estate and mortgage broker, said that he knew of no one who would want to harm his family or exact revenge.
Police do not yet know if Elizabeth was specifically targeted, but Dinse said his initial impression is that the abduction "was not random." He said no "legitimate" ransom demand has been received, although some people have called in false claims and information.
The suspect broke through a window and told Elizabeth she could take a pair of shoes with her, according to police. Detective Dwayne Baird said the man was carrying a small-caliber black handgun and left on foot with the girl. He said there was no blood at the scene and no apparent motive.
"He just walked out the door with her," Baird said. "He didn't take a vehicle. He just left on foot."
Dinse would not discuss whether the house had a security system or where in the house the intruder entered.
Elizabeth is described as blonde, 5 feet 6 inches tall, weighting 105 pounds and was last seen wearing red pajamas.
Police combed the hills around the neighborhood, near the University of Utah, throughout the day on Wednesday, without finding any clues, Dinse said.
The FBI has joined the case, and law enforcement agencies throughout Utah and in adjacent areas of Wyoming and Idaho are on the lookout for Elizabeth and her abductor, described as a white man, 5 feet, 8 inches tall, wearing a white shirt and white baseball cap.
More than 100 members of the community have joined the search for the girl. Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Andersen announced a $10,000 reward for information and vowed to do "absolutely everything possible" to find the missing girl.
"We will not stop until Elizabeth is returned to the Smart family," Anderson said.
Police have also set up a toll-free phone line for people to call in tips and information: (800) 932-0190.
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