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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Man Wanted for Questioning for Disappearance of Elizabeth Smart

Aired June 12, 2002 - 13:11   ET

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


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: We are going to go to Salt Lake City now for more on the Elizabeth Smart investigation.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... Salt Lake and Utah throughout the country and even throughout the world, we have had so many people wanting to help and so much help and resources and volunteers that we feel deeply indebted to everybody and all of the things that have been done.

Yesterday, although we have heard some reports in the media that the volunteer effort has diminished, in fact, we had over 800 people come yesterday and volunteered their time and their efforts in this search for Elizabeth Smart. And while we know that the police have clues and that this volunteer and search effort are pulling out many, many clues, we are deeply grateful to the law enforcement and to the FBI and to all of the things that they are doing.

And we have received -- we have received many, offers of help, and all of those offers of help that are investigation-related, we have referred directly to the police, and we have full confidence in what they are doing and all of the resources that they are putting toward this effort to find Elizabeth.

Now, I would like to say that until Elizabeth is found, until she is home safe with her parents and her brothers and sister that we are going to continue every effort that we can. We are going to continue this search. We are going to do everything possible to get her home. And again, once again, I would just like to thank everybody. Good morning.

SGT. FRED LOUIS, SALT LAKE CITY POLICE: Good morning. I am Sergeant Fred Louis -- Louis, L-O-U-I-S. I am with the Salt Lake City Police Department and Public Information Office. Thank you for being here.

This morning, the information and leads are continuing to come into the police department, and having said that, we would like the assistance of the media and the community to help us locate Bret Michael Edmunds. Mr. Edmunds is believed to have been in the Avenues (ph) area. This individual is believed to be driving the Nissan, green Nissan vehicle with a 266 license plate. Mr. Edmunds is described as a white male, 26 years, six foot two, 235 pounds, brown eyes. He is believed to be driving a 1997 Saturn, green in color with Utah plate 266 XJH Juliette Hotel (ph).

Mr. Edmunds is also wanted for two outstanding warrants, and he is also been known to be violent with police officers. So we do consider him dangerous. If anyone has information about his whereabouts, we are asking you to call the Salt Lake City Police Department at the 799-3000 number.

At this time, I will answer any questions you have.

QUESTION: Sergeant, is this is the car that was seen by the milk man the day before in the area?

LOUIS: Yes. We believe so. The 266 partial plate, we would like to question this guy.

QUESTION: Is he a known sex offender, or does he have any crimes that might be related to this?

LOUIS: He does have a past history. Unknown sex offender -- it's unknown if he is a sex offender, but he does have a prior criminal history.

QUESTION: What are the warrants for?

LOUIS: They were warrants for fraud, and this other has a warrant for fraud and also a warrant for assault on a police officer.

QUESTION: Have you checked the address on the warrant you found right now?

LOUIS: At this point, we believe Mr. Edmunds lives out of his vehicle, and he is just basically a transient throughout the city. So we don't have a definite address on him.

QUESTION: Has the nine-year-old seen the mug shot and identified him?

LOUIS: I can't answer that.

QUESTION: Any physical evidence found in the house connected to this man?

LOUIS: No.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

LOUIS: Well, based on the description from the milk man, the 266 license plate, we would like to contact Mr. Edmunds and find out what his activity was in the area.

QUESTION: Other than the possibility that he was in the area, what else makes you think he might have information about this crime?

LOUIS: Well, he was in the area. He may have seen something. So we want to talk to him and find out if that's a possibility. And besides having outstanding warrants, we want to talk to Mr. Edmunds. QUESTION: You don't consider him a suspect, do you?

LOUIS: No, absolutely, not. He is wanted for questioning. We don't consider him a suspect. But he does also, like I said, he does have outstanding warrants. So we want to talk to him to see if he has any information. He was in the Avenues (ph) area. So we're talking to everybody, everyone who was in the area, and...

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

LOUIS: I'm not sure.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

LOUIS: No.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

LOUIS: We don't know, that's why we want to talk to him.

QUESTION: Why does the milk man think this guy stood out?

LOUIS: When we were interviewing the milk man, we were asking questions of witnesses about anything they may have seen unusual. And this is what the milk man saw, so based on that information, we want to talk to Mr. Edmunds.

QUESTION: Wasn't it originally a gray Honda? What makes this man suspicious?

LOUIS: Well, the information that was developed to this point, he is not suspicious. We want to talk to him in regards to his presence in the Avenues (ph) area.

QUESTION: Does he have other family in this area that you have been able to contact?

LOUIS: I don't know.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

LOUIS: I don't have the exact time.

QUESTION: Was it the following morning?

LOUIS: I don't know. We just have the information.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

LOUIS: The milk man said he saw the vehicle with the 266 license plate. As you remember, the letters didn't match. We ran a check, and it did not match any local vehicle. So with this partial plate, we want to talk to Mr. Edmunds.

QUESTION: Where was this car?

LOUIS: Sorry?

QUESTION: Where was the car when the milk man saw it?

LOUIS: Up in the Avenues (ph) area. I don't have a specific address.

QUESTION: So not necessarily in the neighborhood or over here in the Avenues (ph)?

LOUIS: It was in the Avenues (ph), yes.

QUESTION: So do reporters agree on (UNINTELLIGIBLE) it didn't exist?

LOUIS: That information we have, but the information we have to this point, we feel confident that he is driving a green vehicle.

QUESTION: So you are looking for this man based on the number 266 on the license plate.

LOUIS: Correct. The 266 based on the information we got from the milk man. We just want to question him. We are not saying that he is a suspect in this case.

QUESTION: Seeing that you had this 266 information, why are you now releasing this?

LOUIS: We have a better description of the vehicle. It's a possibility that Mr. Edmunds was in the area with the 266 license plate. So we do want to bring him in and hopefully talk to him.

QUESTION: How did you finally narrow this down or go from the 266 license plate with a different car description? How did you focus in on this guy?

LOUIS: Based on some information that we have gathered through the investigation. I can't go into specifics. But we want to talk to the individual (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

QUESTION: Have you executed a search warrant at his last known address or are you attempting to get one?

LOUIS: We don't have a last known address. What we believe, he is a transient, and he is moving around the city. He hasn't been at any address that we know of.

QUESTION: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) that he was at a certain location. That's only 30 to 40 days ago.

LOUIS: Based on the information we have today, we believe he is a transient and he is living out of vehicle.

QUESTION: How old is the booking photo, Sergeant? When was he last booked?

LOUIS: I don't have that exact information. QUESTION: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) recognize this guy, see him around the house say that, yes, I have seen that face before?

LOUIS: No.

QUESTION: Besides the warrants, sir, has he actually served time for anything?

LOUIS: At this point, we are checking into that. He may be on probation. We are not definite.

QUESTION: Just to be clear, do you believe he has any involvement in this case other than being a possible witness? Is that what you are saying?

LOUIS: At this point, he is only wanted for questioning. We don't think he is a suspect at this time. That's why we want to have him come in. If anyone sees him, please report his location to us. Based on the information we have at this point, we want to just question him (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

QUESTION: Do you have any other accounts of him being -- besides the milk man, are there other accounts of him possibly being in this neighborhood, or is it based solely upon what the milk man says he saw?

LOUIS: We don't have any other accounts that he was in (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

LOUIS: We do believe he is still in the area.

QUESTION: You mentioned that he was a transient. Does he have any jobs, any ties to schools, janitor, things of this nature?

LOUIS: Not that I know of at this time. He is living out of a vehicle. He is moving around.

QUESTION: Last known job?

LOUIS: At this point, we don't know. At this point, he doesn't appear to be tied to any job or occupation in the city.

QUESTION: Does he have relatives in the city?

LOUIS: I don't know.

QUESTION: Does the family know him or recognize him?

LOUIS: The Smart family?

QUESTION: Yes.

LOUIS: No. They don't know him.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

LOUIS: What made him notice it? He just basically had an interview with detectives. That's the information that he came forward with. Something that maybe just stood out to milk man during that time of day.

QUESTION: What time was it?

LOUIS: Excuse me?

QUESTION: When the milk man saw the car, what time was it before the kidnapping or after the kidnapping?

LOUIS: This was prior to.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

LOUIS: As part of the search program, two helicopters are being used today. It's going to be manned with volunteers and police. At this time, there are no specific instructions that they are going to be looking for today.

QUESTION: Where are they searching, what area?

LOUIS: I don't know. I can't comment on that.

QUESTION: Are you continuing to concentrate just on her neighborhood today? Is that the focus still of the search?

LOUIS: The focus of the search has been narrowed and is back into the neighborhood, the community, back into the...

QUESTION: What's the plan today?

LOUIS: The plan today is to continually follow up on leads, as we have been. Detectives are out hitting the streets, following up on leads. The information is continually coming in. So basically, we are just continuing our investigation.

QUESTION: What about other leads specifically listed known criminals from probation and parole? Are you going through those lists? Are you turning up everything -- anything? Have you cleared everybody off of that list? What's the status?

LOUIS: Detectives are talking to a lot of people, people on probation lists, you know, neighbors, friends, friends and neighbors, and they are eliminating some leads absolutely.

QUESTION: Can you tell us anything about the sex offender list that's being used? We understand that a couple of possibilities were sent over from corrections yesterday to police.

LOUIS: Well, sex the offender list, names were included in the investigation. There are some names that I understand that didn't register or didn't pop up. But that's not unusual for people not to report in to their officer. But detectives are continuing to investigate and trying got locate these people.

QUESTION: You're saying the man is not described as a suspect. Are you saying detectives don't believe he was involved at all?

LOUIS: We are saying at this point we want to get him in and question him. That at this point, he is just wanted for questioning.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

LOUIS: I don't know.

QUESTION: What's your message to the kidnapper today?

LOUIS: The investigation is -- we are optimistic about the investigation that we are going to make an arrest. And you know, it's like Chief Dinse (ph) said yesterday, we are going to get him. We are going to get him, we're going to bring him in, and bring this case to an end.

QUESTION: The chief has said very clearly we think, you know, the investigation is narrowing, we think it's a person familiar with the family, the neighborhood, maybe the home. Anything further on this? Does this man fit into that scenario in any way, or do you have any further details?

LOUIS: I'll have to give further details. At this point, we don't know until we bring Mr. Edmunds in and talk to him and find out what he was doing.

QUESTION: Was this information just developed overnight on this particular witness, or is this person identified?

LOUIS: I don't know.

QUESTION: The milk man says it took place on Monday morning, correct, the Monday previous to the abduction?

LOUIS: It was prior to the abduction, yes.

QUESTION: Was it Monday morning or do you know?

LOUIS: It was prior to the abduction.

QUESTION: Can you walk us through what the milk man saw? Was the car sitting there parked, gawking at the house, driving by, what?

LOUIS: Well, the information we have from the milk man is that he told investigators about the partial plate, and he thought it was unusual. I don't have any further details.

QUESTION: The report that I have heard of a known criminal who had apparently a delivery job of some king, or a job that would put him in the area, in this neighborhood. Have you looked into that? Have you been able to clear that out as a possibility?

LOUIS: Detectives are continuing to talk to anyone who may have been in the area. So that investigation is ongoing. I think we are talking -- they are talking to everyone who is affiliated with the neighborhood, who made deliveries to the neighborhood. So that part of the investigation is ongoing.

QUESTION: Has there been any polygraphs since the father? Has this guy ever worked as a delivery man or a subcontractor, a handyman or anything like that in the neighborhood as far as you know?

LOUIS: I don't know.

QUESTION: Has he been questioned, sir?

LOUIS: Mr. Edmunds?

QUESTION: Yes.

LOUIS: We haven't found him yet.

QUESTION: But he isn't one of the people you have questioned in the past (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

LOUIS: No, he has not been questioned in the past. We are looking for him.

QUESTION: Any further polygraphs?

LOUIS: There will be other polygraphs. As of who and when polygraphs will happen today, I don't have that information.

QUESTION: Have there been any others since the father?

LOUIS: I can't answer that.

QUESTION: Hold the picture up.

LOUIS: Sure.

QUESTION: Have the parents of Elizabeth seen the picture?

LOUIS: I don't know, but I am sure they will see it now.

QUESTION: Over the weekend you released a composite sketch of a material witness that you were able to very quickly find and interview. He had nothing to do with the case. But is this person at a similar level of a material witness as the person in the composite sketch over the weekend, or do you feel that he is a more important material witness than the first one?

LOUIS: At this point, we believe he is at the same level as the person sketch we released on Saturday. Again, he is just a suspect at this point. We want him for questioning, and that's where are.

QUESTION: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) he is not a suspect. Are you saying he is a suspect?

LOUIS: Excuse me. He is just wanted for questioning. QUESTION: You also said that Ed and Lois Smart did not recognize this man. But you also say that they have not seen a photograph of this man?

LOUIS: Before I came to the conference, I am not sure if they saw this photograph or not. I don't think they saw this photograph.

QUESTION: So it's possible they may recognize him when they see the photograph?

LOUIS: That's a possibility.

QUESTION: Any plans to release additional photos today or possible material witnesses that you are looking for?

LOUIS: At this point, no.

QUESTION: Has the re-canvassing efforts that started yesterday produced anything, the re-questioning, has that led to any further leads in the case?

LOUIS: We are positive about the way the investigation is going. As far as the re-canvassing and re-interviewing the witnesses, we are still very positive about the way the investigation is going. And that's all I can comment on.

QUESTION: Fred, Are you asking the volunteers to focus on the neighborhood? Or are the volunteers going elsewhere while police focus on the neighborhood?

LOUIS: The volunteers are -- I am not exactly sure what the plan was for the volunteers this morning. I don't have that information.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So the police aren't specifically asking the volunteers to focus their efforts in the neighborhood along with police?

LOUIS: Police are focusing on their instructions, and the volunteers have another set of instructions to follow.

QUESTION: He has no history of being a sex offender, is that correct? No criminal history of being sex offender?

LOUIS: He has a prior history, and I can't comment on it.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

LOUIS: I'm sorry?

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

LOUIS: For fraud, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) appeal, those sorts of things.

QUESTION: But you can't comment on whether or not he has prior history as a sex offender? LOUIS: I don't have information about him being a sex offender.

QUESTION: Is he from Utah, or do you know how long he has been in Utah?

LOUIS: I don't know.

QUESTION: OK, sir, just to be clear, which is it? Because earlier you said he has no history as a sex offender, and now you are not sure. We want to be certain.

LOUIS: He doesn't have any information of being a sex offender. That's the basic information that we have.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

LOUIS: I don't think the sister has seen this photo prior to me leaving the police department to come here.

PHILLIPS: You have been watching a press briefing with Sergeant Fred Louis from the Salt Lake City Police Department there in Salt Lake talking about the search for 14-year-old Elizabeth Smart.

The latest revelation is a picture of this man wanted for questioning. Bret Michael Edmunds, 26 years old, 6'2, brown hair, hazel eyes, 235 pounds. Last seen driving a 1997 Saturn, license plate 266 XJH. He's wanted for two outstanding warrants at this time. One for fraud, one for assaulting a police officer. He's considered dangerous.

Now the information was received by the milk man, believe it or not in the area, spotted this gentleman and now police are going forward and saying they are wanting to get into contact with Bret Michael Edmunds for questioning. You might have heard in the press briefing there, kind of went back and forth. Is he a suspect or not? Couldn't seem to get a straight question on that. But definitely this man, Bret Michael Edmunds is wanted for questioning in the disappearance of 14-year-old Elizabeth Smart.

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