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Special Event

Florida Law Enforcement Officials Hold News Conference on Safe Recovery of Kidnapped 10-Year-Old Girl

Aired March 9, 2000 - 3:04 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

DONNA KELLEY, CNN ANCHOR: We're going to take you right now to Gainesville where we believe one of the first speakers will be David Turner, who is the sheriff of Gilchrist County, after they have found this Jessica Rodriguez, the 10-year-old who was found alive today apparently safe and all right, but she's gone for medical tests. And she was kidnapped when she got off the school bus on Monday.

Let's listen in.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

SHERIFF DAVID TURNER, GILCHRIST COUNTY, FLORIDA: I just want to say that, right now, we're extremely elated that Jessica has been located, she's been found and she's fine. She's talking with mom. She's in good condition, and right now she's being medically evaluated by the child protection team, and she's also talking with law enforcement.

This has been a very trying past few days. The family is, as I said, elated at her return, and the family wanted -- as well as I -- wanted to thank the media for all the responses been given. We feel like it's with your help that we've been able to reach out and obtain Jessica's return. So we are, indeed, extremely thankful for everything that each and every one of you have done that way.

We will ask that since it has been a very trying time, that you respect the family's privacy as we continue to go through this period of recovery. And I want to thank all the law enforcement agency -- all the assistance that's being given within our community and by everybody to our office. I want to especially thank the Lafayette County Sheriff's Office who responded so quickly to the Wal-Mart store where Jessica was found, and the response and the attention that they've given to her and all. So once again, from the bottom of my heart, I say thank you to all of you, and Jessica is doing well -- Ken.

KEN TUCKER, FLORIDA DEPT. OF LAW ENFORCEMENT: Good afternoon.

One of the things we wanted to do was clarify where we're at on suspect information at this time. I know there's a lot of different information. There's some names that are out there, and what I will tell you at this point is we are still focusing on the green SUV vehicle with tan interior and the general description of a white male in his 30s to 40s, described as six-foot and possibly balding. We have not focused in on a named individual, so any of you that have that information, we're still trying to keep this search for a suspect real broad.

Now, we, as Sheriff Turner, indicated we will be interviewing the child and trying to get more information. That is a tedious process, and we will take as long as we need to make sure that we're getting good and accurate information there. And as we develop more information, you know, we'll try to get that out to you. But I can't give you a time estimate right now on how long that's going to be. It's going to be as long as it needs to be, recognizing what she's been through and everything else. So we're going to, you know, just take that and make sure we do it in the correct manner.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Sheriff is taking questions.

TUCKER: Excuse me?

QUESTION: Where do you believe the suspect went (UNINTELLIGIBLE)? Or has Jessica indicated anything about (OFF-MIKE).

TUCKER: The last whereabouts we have is the Wal-Mart store on Archer Road.

QUESTION: Do you have a witness of her being dropped off, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) that saw the car? Do you have a witness that saw her being dropped off?

TUCKER: Not that we've been able to determine yet, but that is some information that anyone that was present at that Wal-Mart this afternoon that saw a green SUV, we'd like you to call in and, you know, give us an opportunity to interview you.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everybody's going to have a chance.

TUCKER: OK.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Let me organize this a little bit.

Yes, ma'am.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

TUCKER: We haven't had, you know, the media pressing. The thing with the child is to get her medically evaluated. We have had a -- not had a lot of opportunity to spend with her and get a lot of detailed information yet, so we don't have that kind of information.

QUESTION: Does she appear to be injured in any way, bruised or abused?

TUCKER: The medical evaluation is ongoing as we speak. QUESTION: Did she tell you whether she was at a house, at a motel, at a -- did they sleep in the car? Where were they?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The detectives are still (OFF-MIKE).

QUESTION: We can't hear.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The detectives are -- go ahead.

TUCKER: The detectives are still trying to gather information. We don't have specific information about her whereabouts to release at this point.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, sir?

QUESTION: Can you discuss the specifics of how you knew she was at the Wal-Mart where she was dropped off?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can give you a little bit on that. She was apparently dropped off at the Wal-Mart. She went inside, went to the desk and identified herself, and then law enforcement was called.

QUESTION: About the Lumina: You're concentrating on the SUV, but there's a Lumina described...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Would you like to clarify that?

I'll let him clarify that.

TUCKER: Let me clarify this. We have been continuing our investigation and was in the middle of a lead that involved a Lumina at the time she was found. At this time, the Lumina is still a removed lead, one that we want to resolve, but that's not a pressing lead at this point. That was a separate lead that had been developed and we were pursuing...

KELLEY: That is the latest from Gainesville this afternoon after 10-year-old Jessica Rodriguez was found alive today, apparently dropped off at a store in Gainesville after she was abducted on Monday. She got off the school bus and this person took her and they haven't seen or heard from her for a couple of days -- but found alive today as she was dropped off at a store. The sheriff, David Turner, saying that the family is elated that she is fine. She's talking with her mom, she's in good condition. They're in the process right now of doing medical tests on her. Law enforcement folks are interviewing her trying to get a little more information about this suspect, the suspect who was last seen driving away from this store in a dark green SUV. And the suspect is described as a white male in his 30s to 40s, about 6-feet tall, brown eyes and brown hair, possibly balding on top.

So we'll keep you posted to any other information that we get and we'll update the story.

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