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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Salt Lake City Police Department Briefs Reporters

Aired June 15, 2002 - 22:15   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.
DET. DWAYNE BAIRD, SALT LAKE CITY POLICE DEPT.: ... this style and this color. So it's a golf-type cap, tan in color. This information was developed by our detectives, as I said, this afternoon. Any questions?

QUESTION: Based on?

BAIRD: Based on their further investigation in this case. They didn't give me any details as to how they came to the conclusion of this cap yet.

QUESTION: As far as we know, there has been only one witness to this case, and this is the 9-year-old sister. Is there any indication that there might be other witnesses?

BAIRD: Not to my knowledge. I don't know where -- as I said, all they told me was that the investigation led to this point.

QUESTION: Any indication that this particular finding has gotten you any closer to finding out who the suspect might be?

BAIRD: Well, it certainly gives us an indication as to what, you know, the cap it. I don't know if it has named anybody as a suspect at this point, but it gives us an indication as to the article of clothing.

QUESTION: Does the FBI know about this development?

BAIRD: I'm certain they do. They're working hand in hand with our detectives on this case.

QUESTION: Are you going to look for a cap like that somewhere in the area?

BAIRD: Boy, that would be a difficult thing to do. This is a very common style of cap.

QUESTION: Detective, any developments today we can be aware of in the search?

BAIRD: Nothing that I have been made aware of. This is the furthest in the extent that I've been made aware of in this case.

QUESTION: Bret Edmunds -- any developments, any...? BAIRD: No, we're still looking for him. To my knowledge, he has not been located yet.

QUESTION: This has nothing to do with the man wanted for questioning?

BAIRD: No, it does not, as far as I'm aware. We don't know that he was wearing this cap, and we haven't connected this cap or this style of cap to Mr. Edmunds.

QUESTION: He's never worn that kind of cap?

BAIRD: I wouldn't say that. I don't know Mr. Edmunds, so I don't know what he wears.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

BAIRD: As a piece of evidence, one piece of the puzzle that we're looking for in the suspect.

QUESTION: Denim jacket is still something that you see as (UNINTELLIGIBLE)?

BAIRD: It's a light tan jacket, from my understanding. That's the description of it. And that was given the first day.

QUESTION: Detective, is there any scaling back by the department in the search for Elizabeth? It's still the same number of law enforcement?

BAIRD: Absolutely. Yeah, the question was, is this the same number of law enforcement that we've had all along on this case, and yes, it is. We are not scaling back in our efforts to find Elizabeth Smart or the kidnapper.

QUESTION: Are they working through the weekend?

BAIRD: Yes, we are working through the weekend, and we're working 24 hours a day.

QUESTION: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) are not in law enforcement. Give us in layman's terms, what (UNINTELLIGIBLE) detectives do?

BAIRD: They're following up on leads. As you know, we've gotten over 6,000 leads in the last several days since the beginning of this investigation, and those officers are following up on leads. We have about 600 good leads, and we have to send officers out on each of those leads so that we can either eliminate them or confirm them as being solid in our efforts.

QUESTION: And, again, in layman's terms, what is a good lead?

BAIRD: That would lead us closer to the suspect, that's a good lead. I mean...

QUESTION: Someone who has been wanted for questioning for this long and is still missing, why isn't that person a suspect, why isn't that person more than a person wanted for questioning?

BAIRD: Because we haven't developed any further information that would lead us to believe that he is a suspect.

QUESTION: Doesn't that raise suspicion, though, that this person has been missing for this long?

BAIRD: Not necessarily. This individual is transient, and has always behaved in this way for the last 90 days that I know of, and possibly longer than that. So he's someone that's been avoiding us and evading police for some time. Fro him just to be evading us now -- he may or may not know that we're looking for him, but this is not unusual in his behavior.

QUESTION: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) tonight's episode of "America's Most Wanted" which featured a story on Elizabeth Smart, have the phone lines been flooding you with new tips and leads?

BAIRD: I'm not aware of that. I would assume they would be. I believe that's just airing as we're speaking, so I believe it airs 8:00 local time.

QUESTION: Detective, Mary Katherine, the early reports of Mary Katherine had this description of this individual indicated that you've had (UNINTELLIGIBLE). Why take so long to show us an example (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

BAIRD: The development came to me just this afternoon, as far as the positive, that this is, in fact, what it was that he wore.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

BAIRD: I don't know that.

QUESTION: Detective, you know, law enforcement officials here (UNINTELLIGIBLE) police department here in particular have all along been saying that they're unwilling that none of the family -- that the family is not a suspect, that no member of the family is not a suspect. Why are you unwilling at this time just to not say, that, you know, Mr. Edmunds is, in fact, a suspect?

BAIRD: Why are we not willing to say that he's a suspect? Because we don't know enough about him and his whereabouts on that evening to pinpoint him in a certain area. We just want to ask him questions about his behavior and his whereabouts that evening.

QUESTION: Detective, if the kidnapper were to be watching you right now, what would you say to him?

BAIRD: Bring back Elizabeth Smart. Turn yourself in.

QUESTION: Granted this only has been the first day in this new phase of the search...

BAIRD: Yes. QUESTION: ... but based on just today, how it has been going? Can you characterize for us how the search has been going? Has it been effective (ph) in any way?

BAIRD: It seems to be efficient in the sense that we're still getting lots of leads, lots of calls. I talked to our dispatch center earlier today, and they were still handling calls at a pretty good volume. I'm not sure if it's exactly the way it was earlier, but certainly we're continuing to get calls, not just locally but from around this country.

QUESTION: Can you tell me the significance (UNINTELLIGIBLE) what kind of hat he was wearing and what color. How important will that be to you?

BAIRD: Well, it's an identifying piece of this puzzle, and if someone knows someone who would have been up in this area dressed like this with that kind of a cap, it would be beneficial for us to know who they are and what business they had up here.

QUESTION: Have you, because of the amount of the press attention on this, felt pressure to -- I don't want to sound ungrateful because we've got to get any information obviously that you develop -- but to call a press conference on Saturday night at 8:00 -- you know, I'm just curious if you're eager to give, to provide us with the latest on the search.

BAIRD: I was told to provide any information whenever I got it, and I want to do that as part of your benefit. But yeah, if I had it earlier, or yesterday, you certainly would have had it then.

QUESTION: Detective, any of your good leads, the 600 good leads, have any of them taken you out of state?

BAIRD: Several of them have taken us out of state, yes. I'm not suer exactly which states, but I know that we've sent detectives into other areas of the country, yes.

QUESTION: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) same vague description, or does this include that (UNINTELLIGIBLE). We could see a sketch coming up or (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

BAIRD: As far as the sketch, I'm unaware of a sketch being developed, but this is not a vague clue. This is exactly what was described and actually indicated that this individual, or, as I said, it is tan in color, similar to this hat that I have underneath. That's the color it was. That's the style I had it is.

QUESTION: At this point in the investigation, are you still looking for the suspect with a little girl, or have you taken your leave (ph) here, and are looking for the suspect alone?

BAIRD: Oh, no, absolutely, we're looking for Elizabeth Smart. And we want to correct that little girl type image. At 14 years old and 5-foot-6, she's a young woman, and so we don't want people to think that we've got somebody walking around with a toddler. If they are together, we want people to see that and make note of that, but we are looking for both of them equally. Our first and main concern is the safe return of Elizabeth Smart, of course.

Last question.

QUESTION: Sorry, just to retrack -- I just want clarification. Detectives from your department have gone out of state -- does that have anything to do with what happened yesterday in Texas and New Mexico, or are you on to other states?

BAIRD: I'm not aware that we sent anybody to Texas and New Mexico.

QUESTION: They confirmed that detectives from your department have went to other states.

BAIRD: Yes, but understand, there would be no reason for us to go to Texas until it was confirmed that that was Mr. Edmunds, and it was confirmed last night that it was not by local law enforcement in that area.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

BAIRD: I'm not aware of those.

QUESTION: Detective, can you describe the difference between the case today and that Wednesday when she was taken -- are you any closer? How would you describe that?

BAIRD: Well, certainly we're following up on more leads and we're working at it. I don't know, you know, if were close, we'd go get her, we'd go get him, but we need to follow up on everything, and it helps us in either a process of elimination or the process of finding out who it is.

QUESTION: But you feel that you are any closer, or are you...

BAIRD: I'm sure that our detectives are feeling that we're working diligently in that effort.

That's all the time I have for the questions. Thanks.

CATHERINE CALLAWAY, CNN ANCHOR: You've been listening to Salt Lake City police detective Dwayne Baird giving the media an update on the investigation into missing 14-year old Elizabeth Smart, showing everyone a cap that he said may be similar to the one the suspect that kidnapped Elizabeth Smart was wearing, saying that it was tan in color. He also said that there have been some 6,000 tips in this case so far. And they are still searching for Bret Michael Edmunds, a transient who was seen in Elizabeth Smart's neighborhood prior to her kidnapping.

There was a tip yesterday that he may have been arrested in Texas. It turned out the man arrested in Texas was not Bret Michael Edmunds, but the search continues for him.

Our Michael Okwu is standing by there in Salt Lake City, was there for the press conference that was held.

Interesting development tonight with this cap that they're saying the suspect may have been wearing, Michael. We have to wonder if that description came from her nine-year old sister, who was the only witness to this kidnapping.

MICHAEL OKWU, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Catherine, that's right. That's the -- sort of the million dollar question, the question that every media organization here today wanted to find out.

We have to presume that this bit of information actually came from the nine-year old sister. As far as we know at this point, no one else has come forward. And certainly no one has talked to the police as far as we know about sighting whoever this abductor was the evening that Elizabeth Smart was taken away.

So one has to assume that it was the daughter. But again, there's been a lot of questions about how accurate some of her descriptions could be, because it was, we assume dark, and that she was roused from her sleep when her sister was taken away. So the police have been, up to this point, very tight lipped about giving any sort of description, other than what they believed to be the approximate height of this abductor. Now they're coming forward and being a little bit more specific about some of the clothes that this suspect might have been wearing.

And again, Detective Baird here said that it was a golf type hat and that it was tan in color. And essentially, they're hoping that this information is going to get people in the community to say, well, you know, who do we know or who did we see in the area, who might have been wearing something like this? So they might be able to put two and two together and provide investigators with just even the smallest shred of evidence that might lead them to the suspect -- Catherine.

CALLAWAY: And Michael, it was interesting that Detective Baird also pointed out to everyone that Elizabeth is not a little girl. She's 14-years old. She's 5'6. She's a young lady. And that he was concerned that maybe people had a conception about what -- how she looks?

OKWU: That's exactly right. They have -- they've been watching, as you know, the pictures of Elizabeth Smart that all of us in the media have been putting out on the airwaves over the course of the past 11 days. And there are a range of photographs that show what everyone agrees is a very, you know, beautiful, innocent looking young girl. And they range in age. So they wanted to make it very, very clear that this is somebody who's 14-years old, that she was about 5'6. So clearly not somebody who was a little toddler.

They wanted to make it very clear what she looks like because they are reaching out. It's very clear at this point 11 days into the investigation that they're looking for as much help from the public as possible. So clearly, they want to give as clear a description of Elizabeth.

CALLAWAY: And Michael, we heard, as I repeated a moment ago, some 6,000 tips in this case. And I heard the detective also say that several hundred of them have been what would consider I guess legitimate information?

OKWU: That's exactly right. There's been information regarding some of the tips here. They've also said that, you know, some of the tips that they've gotten in the past haven't really panned out. You might remember that just a few days ago, they spoke very confidently about the fact that they may have a suspect. In fact, at a press conference here earlier in the week, they said to this suspect out there, we will find you. Give yourself up. And they went so far as to make this statement. They said that they might even have spoken or were about to speak to this person.

We have found out from an FBI spokesman that it turns out that those leads did not really pan out, that these people that they were focusing on had very good alibis, that really checked out. So they say that they're now on to some new leads. And one has to presume that some of the leads that they are getting are leads that they've gotten from some members of the public, because they say that the public has come forward with a lot of information, a lot of bad information, but some of it, they believe, also a lot of good information.

CALLAWAY: Well, let's hope so. CNN's Michael Okwu, good job out there. Thank you for joining us tonight, Michael.

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