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Smart Family, Salt Lake City Police Hold Press Conference

Aired June 24, 2002 - 13:02   ET


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Now, we're following several developments in the search for 14-year-old Elizabeth Smart. A handyman with a long criminal record is being questioned now by detectives in Salt Lake City.

Meanwhile, authorities are expected to reveal what they've learned from another figure in that case, Bret Michael Edmunds.

CNN's Ed Lavandera is standing by in Salt Lake City awaiting the news conference, and our Patty Davis is in West Virginia where Edmunds remains hospitalized.

Ed, let's begin with you.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kyra, in just a few moments here, police and family members will begin another press briefing here. We expect a lot of information to come up this -- this morning and this afternoon now that the information about a potential suspect -- they are not calling him a suspect yet, but someone that, as one police source tells us, is one of the five or six strong leads the police are looking at. His name is Richard Ricci, and he has got a long criminal history here in the state of Utah. He has been in and out of the prison system since 1973. We understand that he has been charged and convicted of aggravated assault, attempted homicide of a police officer in 1983, which he served 15 years in prison for. He has also broken out of a state prison here in Utah 1982, spent two weeks on the run with that.

Now, we had a chance to speak with a family spokesperson for the Smart family. They say they do recognize this man. He was allowed -- hired to do some work around the Smart's family home. Doing some painting jobs, we understand, in March through June of last year, and a family spokesperson says that they're hoping that this information and this questioning of this man will hopefully lead to some information that leads to the return of Elizabeth Smart.


CHRIS THOMAS, FAMILY SPOKESMAN: Authorities have been very communicative with the family on different details. This is one of those things -- when you hear family members say they're hopeful about certain leads, I think this could be characterized as one of those leads that they're hopeful about that they can't discuss.


LAVANDERA: Now, the original description of the suspect in this case was that it was a man between the ages of 30 and 40. Ricci is 50 years old, and we also had a chance this morning to speak with one of his -- the places where he last worked. Ricci had been paroled from prison in September of 2000. He had been working at a nursery here in the Salt Lake City area. We had a chance to speak with his bosses at that shop there. His name is Lee Mitchell. He was surprised by this news, and that Ricci had been taken into custody ten days ago, and is now being asked questions about this case.


LEE MITCHELL, RICCI'S BOSS: I thought he was a very good worker. He had done an excellent job. We had him do a few deliveries for us, and actually, he went out and planted a few things for us, and so -- you know, he knew his material, he knew how to do things.


LAVANDERA: Now, Ricci won't be the only focus of this press briefing this morning. Remember, there is also the issue of Bret Michael Edmunds still out there. He was apprehended in West Virginia last Friday, and he has been wanted in connection -- police have said that they were hoping that he might be able to provide some information in this case. We understand that he has been cooperating with police throughout the weekend. So that is another issue that will come up here at this press briefing, which is probably about a minute, minute-and-half away from beginning -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: All right. Ed...

LAVANDERA: Ed and Louis Smart are on the -- I think, coming to the podium now or getting...

PHILLIPS: Actually, they're getting ready to. They're sort of talking with friends and police there. Actually, here they go, Ed. Let's take it right now.

LAVANDERA: Yes, here they go. I am sorry.

PHILLIPS: OK. Can he hear? Get them.


LOIS SMART, MOTHER OF ELIZABETH SMART: ... and to remind her about a story that happened to her when she was about nine years old. She was up on the ranch with her family, cousins, grandpa, and they were horseback riding, and they had gone a certain distance, and she hopped off the horse and didn't hang on to the reign, and the horse darted back down to the pasture.

Elizabeth, knowing that she couldn't be left there alone, had to immediately get back down to the pasture, find the horse, and get back on it. And she started down the path. It was early spring, and the flowers and grass had just started to grow, and so there wasn't a horse trail per se yet.

And Elizabeth -- I want you to remember what you did, you knelt down and prayed and you talked to God, asking him to help you find your way back.

Elizabeth, I know you are a strong, strong girl. And that you can endure this, and we have not given up on you, Elizabeth. We're going to find you. We love you, Elizabeth. We're not taking any family pictures because our family is not all back together yet. So hang in there. We love you.

ED SMART, FATHER OF ELIZABETH SMART: I'd like to -- you know, once again thank everyone out there who is searching for Elizabeth, the eyes and the ears, and we would ask everyone, you know, whether they're going on vacation, or whatever they're doing, to please keep their eyes and ears open for her, that we still feel confident that it is going to be through the eyes and ears that we find Elizabeth.

We'd like to thank all of those who have been participating in the searches, the neighborhood watches, I know they had a huge search up in Weber County, and we thank you so much, and we hope that you will continue to search, and help us search, because it is going to take a huge effort.

You know, as much of a surprise as it was to us to hear that they found Edmunds clear over in West Virginia, you know, this person who has abducted Elizabeth could be far away, and it is going to be -- it's going to require a nationwide, along with a community, search to help us find her. So, we would ask you that you would continue to pray for her, and keep your eyes open so that -- that all of those unusual things -- and I hope that the police will comment on what potentially those unusual things might be -- that look suspicious that you will keep your eyes open, and help us find Elizabeth, because we feel very strongly she is still out there, she's waiting for us to find her. And it is just going to take this effort, which has just been an unbelievable effort. Just -- it far surpasses anything that we could have ever expected, as much as we could have ever anticipated this horrible thing to happen. But we want to thank everyone, and ask that all the volunteers continue to help search for Elizabeth. Thank you.

CHIEF RICK DINSE, SALT LAKE CITY POLICE: Good morning. We will make a couple of brief statements regarding the incidents over the weekend, including the arrest and interviews of Mr. Edmunds in Virginia, and I'll have Assistant Special Agent in Charge Dan Roberts talk to you about that.

Then I will come back, and we'll talk a little bit about the revelations regarding Mr. Ricci, and then we'll take questions on both sides. So, let me turn it over to Dan first.

DAN ROBERTS, ASSISTANT SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE, FBI: Good morning. Last night, our Salt Lake-based investigators returned from West Virginia. There was one special agent that we dispatched from here, along with one detective from the Salt Lake City Police Department. They hooked up with our investigators in the FBI in that office, and they conducted investigations with Mr. Edmunds over the weekend. Mr. Edmunds was very cooperative with us in, terms of the Elizabeth Smart investigation.

He has provided us with several statements over the weekend. That, of course, is going to lead us to having to run down some more leads and check some whereabouts and check some alibis, but we are very confident that he provided us with some good information and has been very cooperative. So cooperative in fact that he consented to allow us to search his automobile and detail, and we have taken some items of interest out of the automobile, and we will be sending them to the lab here probably today. If not today, it will be tomorrow.

We will likely dismiss on the federal unlawful flight to avoid prosecution charges that we have pending. That will happen today. And then he will be extradited back here to the state of Utah on the local charges. When that will occur is largely based on Mr. Edmunds' health. And so the doctors will have a lot to say about his condition and when he can be moved.

But local officials from here are either en route now on will be shortly to bring him back on the underlying state charges for which he is charged with. As I stated, he is just one of many people of interest to us in this case. We have cast a wide net in this case, and he is just one of many people that we are interested in talking to and following up on in detail. And now the chief will speak to you about the other developments over this weekend.

DINSE: As many here will recall, back on the 11th of June at one of these briefing that I commented on that we were going to refocus or efforts back into the community and into the house and those individuals that may have had access to the house, either inside or outside in some regular fashion. We did that. As a result of that efforts, we reinterviewed Mr. Ricci, and subsequent to those interviews, some of the things that he had previously told us during our first initial contacts with him on the 6th of June required us to look deeper into his alibi.

As a result of that additional investigation, we have been looking at Mr. Ricci very close. We believe he is a very important witness in this case. I want to emphasize he is, at this point in time, not a charged suspect. But he is very interesting. And there are a lot of unanswered questions regarding his actions between May 31 and June 8 of this year. So with that, I will reluctantly take questions.

QUESTION: Can you detail these connection to the Smart house and family?

DINSE: Yes, the Smart house and family, yes, he was a handyman, a worker they had hired, that the Smarts had hired to come in and do some work last year, and he had spent a considerable amount of time in the house and was very familiar with the house.

QUESTION: Certainly there is a larger scheme you're talking about here, a larger potentially scheme involving Mr. Edmunds and Mr. Ricci. Is that what you're getting at? DINSE: No. I'm not getting at that. We're looking at each one of these people individually. We have not connected either Mr. Edmunds or Mr. Ricci together yet.

To the best of my knowledge, they don't, but you know, that is still subject to additional investigation, but right now we do not have anything from Mr. Edmunds or from Mr. Ricci to indicate that they know each other.

QUESTION: What about is it about Mr. Ricci's actions that really raised the flag for you?

DINSE: Well, there certainly is a history. He is a convicted felon. He has spent a considerable amount of time in prison. He was paroled approximately 2000. And if you look at some of his movements during the critical time period, these have brought a considerable amount of questions in our mind that we have yet to get totally answered.

That's part of investigation, and that's what we're looking at. I'm not going to clarify that at this point.

Right here.

QUESTION: What are their alibis, both Bret Edmunds and Mr. Ricci?

DINSE: Well, both -- really I will not go into the alibis in any great depth, other than to say the alibis are suspect, and I'm not going to discuss that much further than that.

QUESTION: Is money involved in any way?

DINSE: Is money involved in this in any way? No, not to my knowledge yet.

QUESTION: Can you tell what the circumstances were surrounding parole violation? Why was he arrested in the first place?

DINSE: Well, during our interviews of Mr. Ricci, information rose to our attention that allowed probation and parole to come in and put a parole hold on him, and he's been in custody since I believe the 14th of June.

QUESTION: You were questioning him first then arrested him for the parole violation?

DINSE: That's correct.

QUESTION: Does he fit the suspect's description at all, the revised description?

DINSE: He does generally fit that description of the suspect. He's a bit taller than the original description. But overall, he does fit the description. QUESTION: The family has noted they've seen the picture and they recognize him. Can we also indicate that Mary Catherine has seen this picture?

DINSE: No. You can't indicate that.

QUESTION: Is he known to have any conversations with the children during the time that he was working at the house?

DINSE: I believe he did. But yes, I will just leave it at that, I believe he did.

Yes, ma'am?


DINSE: Were their items of interest from Edmunds' car?


DINSE: I'm not going to discuss the things that we removed from Mr. Edmunds' car, but we did remove quite a bit. We also have done a forensic vacuum of the car, and all of that is pending right now.

Back here in the back.

QUESTION: Chief, you said you are interested in his movements. Do you have information that would lead you to suspect that he was in the neighborhood during those days before the...

DINSE: We know that he was familiar with that neighborhood, and in general, not just the Smart's residence, but the wider neighborhood, and that he had been in that neighborhood in past occasions.

Yes, sir.

QUESTION: What is Mr. Ricci's criminal history?

DINSE: Mr. Ricci's criminal history -- now, I am -- generalize this -- convictions for burglary, attempt murder, and aggravated assault, robbery, I believe, are the general ones that I can recall.


QUESTION: Any sexual offenses?

DINSE: Not to my knowledge.

QUESTION: Did you search his house?

DINSE: Have we searched his residence? Yes.

QUESTION: Have you talked to his wife? Has she been able to lend anything to you? DINSE: Yes, we have talked to his wife, and she is cooperating by talking to us. As is Mr. Ricci. Mr. Ricci has voluntarily talked to us also.


QUESTION: Is he suspected in burglaries in the area, or any other kind of crimes in that general area?

DINSE: We are looking at him for other crimes in the area, yes.


QUESTION: Is Mary Catherine familiar with Mr. Ricci?

DINSE: Does Mr. Ricci have kids? He has some stepchildren, I believe.


DINSE: You know, I can't answer that at this point. I can't answer whether she has seen the photographs. We have not shown her a photograph yet.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) ... statement that made you take another look? You said after you spoke to him the first time, when you spoke to him again...

DINSE: I do remember. When we talked about this back on -- I believe it was the 11th of June, I said that we were going to go back and reinterview a lot of people and maybe interview some new people who had access to the residence. He was part of those reinterviews, and during the course questions arose as to his conduct and his involvement in this, and that's when we centered on him.

Yes, sir.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) Mr. Edmunds facing more charges when he comes back here, besides the ones that were previously mentioned?

DINSE: It's possible that Mr. Edmunds may be facing more charges. I have...

QUESTION: Involved in this case?

DINSE: Well, we haven't eliminated anybody from this case yet, so anybody could be facing charges on this case at this point. But Mr. Edmunds, at this point in time, we don't have a connection to this case with him.

Yes, ma'am?

QUESTION: After he was interviewed this weekend, has Edmunds moved any closer to being considered a suspect, step away from a witness? DINSE: I would say he hasn't moved any closer to being considered a suspect in this case than we had prior to interviewing him.

QUESTION: Has he moved farther away?

DINSE: Yes, ma'am?

QUESTION: Is there any connection between what was seen at Shriners Hospital parking lot last night (ph) and what went on up -- have you been able to make a connection with the help of the Ricci (OFF-MIKE) interviews?

DINSE: You know what, I'm not sure what you're talking about.

QUESTION: The security guard, what he saw of two cars interacting in the parking lot?

DINSE: Oh, you are talking about with Mr. Edmunds?

QUESTION: No, there was two cars that interacted in the parking lot at Shriners Hospital and the security guard zoomed in on that, and you guys have -- or the FBI has control of that tape. Are there any...


DINSE: No, I'd have to let -- maybe Dan Roberts could answer that question, but I'm not familiar with that, the specifics of what you're asking for.

Yes, ma'am.

QUESTION: Could you clarify why you said family and extended family is less likely to be participants in this crime?

DINSE: I don't think I said that. I said we haven't eliminated anybody from this case yet. We have focused -- I should say Mr. Ricci has risen to the top of the list to be looking at. And -- but until we decide and determine who we believe did this case, and are willing to be able to file charges, we are not eliminating anybody.

QUESTION: How much of a search has been done -- how much of a search has been done at the Shadow Ridge Estates (OFF-MIKE) in regards to Elizabeth?

DINSE: A considerable amount.

QUESTION: Chief, how close are you to calling Mr. Ricci a suspect?

DINSE: You'll hear it when I call it. I'm not ready to call that.


QUESTION: What's Mr. Ricci's work history?

DINSE: Since he's been out, he has done handiwork around, construction kind of work. And he's been involved in gardening -- those kinds of things.

You had a question -- your hand up.

QUESTION: Are there reinterviews that have raised suspicions, like Mr Ricci?

DINSE: Are there any other reinterviews, you mean of individuals?


DINSE: We're still following on all of those other the individuals and other leads, but to this point, Mr. Ricci has moved to the top of that list.


QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) is it because there's a larger scheme here? We talked about it earlier. You're talking about Ricci, you're talking about Edmunds. You won't call him a suspect. Is there a grander possibility here that you will try to keep down because there's more suspects out there?

DINSE: No, there's no grander strategy involved here other than to tell you we're conducting this investigation and we're trying to protect information that we gather in this, so as not to harm our ability to solve the case. And we're not going to say everything we know. So my carefully worded words are try to protect a lot of the things we know, and still provide you an opportunity to get some information.

Yes, Marcos (ph).

QUESTION: You mentioned that -- earlier, that Ricci -- you mentioned him as a witness. Now he's moved to the top of the list. What could be... DINSE: I think we're spending more time on him than we have on any one other witness involved in this case. That's probably what I mean by that.

Yes, sir.

QUESTION: Chief (OFF-MIKE) think you have a chance to move him to the top of list, do you feel like you are closer to getting a suspect?

DINSE: Well, you know, I've said all along I'm encouraged by the direction and the information that we're developing during the course of this investigation. Mr. Ricci is part of that. Some of the information we've developed centers on him. At some point in time, if that information develops that we can name him as a suspect, we will do that. I think somewhere down the line, we will find the suspect, and I maintain that.

Yes, sir?

QUESTION: Did you take anything from his home? You said you searched it. Did you take anything out of it?

DINSE: Yes, we did.

QUESTION: Chief, when was Ricci last known to be in the Smart residence?

DINSE: Approximately September. Whether he was actually in the residence or at the residence, it would have been approximately September, the best (OFF-MIKE)

QUESTION: Chief, you said you reinterviewed Mr. Ricci. Does you -- interviewed him prior to June 14, when he was picked up on his parole violation?

DINSE: Yes, and his name is Ricci -- pronounced "Ricci." If I misquoted that, it's pronounced "Ricci."

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) prior to June 14?

DINSE: Yes, we did.

QUESTION: And then was it something in particular that -- I mean, were you looking for a reason to arrest him, to be able to hold him for longer?

DINSE: Well, if you remember, we received a lot of information from the family about people who had access. He was one of those individuals. He was interviewed very early on in the investigation and had an alibi at that time. We have since gone back, as I said, after the briefing on the 11th, and we reinterviewed everyone and been more focused, and some of the things that he told us then are suspect today.


QUESTION: You said he hadn't moved up the list. Has he moved down the list of suspects?

And secondly, you were interested in knowing not only where he was, but what he might have seen in his time up there. Can you tell us anything about either of those things?

DINSE: Well, at this point and time, there's nothing that he has told us that makes us look at him closer as a suspect. That's all I can say.

QUESTION: Does it make you look at him less closely as suspect?

DINSE: Well, he now fits into a group of people that we are aware of that we are interviewing and talking to and getting questions answered. And obviously, he was one that we had a lot of questions. He's answered those questions, and for the most part, answered them satisfactorily.

QUESTION: So are you done with him now?


DINSE: We are not done with him. But we are -- at this point in time, he is not the focal point of our investigation.

Yes, sir, right here.

QUESTION: Do Mr. Ricci and Mr. Smart have a business dealing involving a car or a Jeep, and if so, what was it and when was it?

DINSE: Yes, Mr. Smart had provided Mr. Ricci a vehicle in turn for some work that was done at the house, payment for work done at the house.


QUESTION: Have you found that vehicle?

DINSE: Yes, we -- have we found the vehicle? Yes, we have.

QUESTION: Can you tell us what medications Edmunds or Ricci was taking?

DINSE: No, I can't.

QUESTION: Can you tell us (OFF-MIKE)

DINSE: No, I can't.

QUESTION: Has Mr. Ricci taken a lie detector test.

DINSE: Yes, he -- the question is has he taken a lie detector test -- yes, he has, and I won't discuss the outcomes of it.


QUESTION: Are other associates who may have worked with Ricci also being looked at?

DINSE: I'm sorry?

QUESTION: Other associates who may have worked at the home with Ricci, are they too being looked at?

DINSE: We have looked at everybody that has worked at the house. Anybody who's had connection with the house, we have looked very closely at.

QUESTION: How well known was Mr. Ricci to the kids (OFF-MIKE)

DINSE: He was known to the kids in the Smart home -- or at least some of them.

QUESTION: Did they call him by first name or by second name?

DINSE: I can't answer that.

QUESTION: Have you shown Mr. Edmunds Mr. Ricci's photo (OFF- MIKE)

QUESTION: I don't know (OFF-MIKE)? The investigators -- I don't believe we have.

QUESTION: But do they know each other? Are they acquaintances of any shape or form, like go to the same bar, have any kind of interaction with each other?

DINSE: Not to my knowledge. We have no connection yet.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)? Is there anything about Mr. Ricci's wardrobe? You said he meets the physical description -- you know, the hat, the tan pants, the jacket. Have you found anything like that that would connect him to the case?

DINSE: You know, we're not going to discuss any of the evidence that we have recovered, if at all. At least at this point, we are not going to discuss it.

QUESTION: Did Mr. Ricci have any connections to the Smart family after being in the home in a working relationship?

DINSE: Other than the working relationship, that's the only relationship I know of.

QUESTION: So the last contact Mr. Ricci has (OFF-MIKE) last September?

DINSE: You know, I may be off on some of the dates here, but to my knowledge, that would have been the last contact he would have had with the Smarts -- would have been approximately September of last year.

Yes, sir.

QUESTION: Chief Dinse said that they are very confident that Mr. Edmunds provided us with good information -- is what he said today. Does that not mean that Mr. Edmunds knows something at all regarding this case?

DINSE: First of all, I think it's Dan Roberts, since I'm Chief Dinse.

QUESTION: I know, I know.

DINSE: Secondly -- but in response to that, he supplied us some information regarding his actions and conduct during this time frame. You know, I'll let Dan deal with that for the most part. But as I know it, there's nothing in what he has told us that conflicts with what we think occurred at the scene. QUESTION: In terms of Mary Catherine's description, we've revised that now twice. Are you willing to make a third revision and say she noticed tattoos on the individual?

DINSE: No, we are not.

QUESTION: Did she notice tattoos on the individual?

DINSE: I'm not going to comment on anything that she saw.

Yes, ma'am?

QUESTION: Was Mr. Ricci's fingerprints found in the Smart home at all?

DINSE: I'm not going to comment on any of the forensic evidence that we have.

QUESTION: Does Mr. Ricci flat out deny any involvement in this?

DINSE: Mr. Ricci's denies involvement, yes.

QUESTION: Has Mr. Ricci been working at other homes in the neighborhood more recently than last September?

DINSE: You know, I don't have the exact dates, but he had worked at other homes in the area, yes.

QUESTION: Do you think you're getting closer to finding Elizabeth?

DINSE: We hope so. We believe identifying the suspect is one way that will get closer to finding Elizabeth.

Yes, sir.

QUESTION: If it's been since September or whatever -- almost a year that he's been in that neighborhood -- what in talking with him would make you believe that he would be back in the neighborhood after so long? Or has he been casing the neighborhood, do you believe, for a long time?

DINSE: Well, I'm not going to comment on the investigation that's -- or that part of the investigation that is focusing us on him any more than I already have.

Anybody else?

QUESTION: I have a question. Since you interviewed him initially, early on in this, I mean, do you have some regrets in letting him go, or not further checking out his alibi that allowed him to go for another period of time that might have gotten you closer to solving this case?

DINSE: Well, we had a lot of people very early on in this that we contacted very quickly. And he was one of them. All of those people we looked carefully -- very quickly, but superficially -- at whether they had alibis. And those individuals that we did contact did have alibis. Upon a closer look, his alibi become more suspicious, and other things surrounding him, with a deeper look at his involvement, brought us to look at him even closer.

QUESTION: The question was do you feel like you let him slip away that first time by not looking closer?

DINSE: Well, I'm not sure. Obviously, hindsight is a good thing, and if I knew what I know today, I would say I wish we knew that back when we first contacted him. But the reality is we were trying to do an awful lot very quickly, and we had no idea at this point what the circumstances of this abduction was.

QUESTION: Was it prior...

QUESTION: Two questions: Was Mr. Ricci -- did he ever take part in any search for Elizabeth -- and was he at the vigil?

DINSE: Not that we can determine.

QUESTION: And last question: Does Angela Ricci, does she have an alibi, his wife?

DINSE: They do.

QUESTION: Has he taken more than one polygraph test and has he hired his own lawyer?

DINSE: He's taken one and I'm not going to discuss any of the -- the family does have an attorney.

We're going to do three more questions. Yes.

QUESTION: Maybe this is more of a question for the Smarts. Is there anything that made them feel uncomfortable about Mr. Ricci when he was in the home working for them?

DINSE: You know, I'll let the Smarts deal with that after we're done here with our part of it.

QUESTION: Was there prior police history to the Ricci residence? Had the police been called in the past? .

DINSE: Had the police been called?

QUESTION: To his residence in the past?

DINSE: You know, I can't answer that.

QUESTION: Did Mr. Ricci have any connections to the other Smart family members? (OFF-MIKE) close to the nuclear family, uncles, aunts?

DINSE: Not to my knowledge. I'll take one more. QUESTION: Can you clarify the alibi? You said, in response to Jim's question, that they do have an alibi. Earlier you said that his alibi (OFF-MIKE) can you can be specific?

DINSE: Well, I'm not going to discuss the alibis. I'm just saying that they both have alibis, and I'm not going to discuss either one.

You're the last question.

QUESTION: You mentioned that Edmunds provided good information. Are you going to be showing him Ricci's photo? Are you hoping that Edmunds can place him in that neighborhood?

DINSE: There may be a lot of additional things we'll do with Mr. Edmunds that we haven't had the opportunity to do back then.

QUESTION: Is that one of them?

DINSE: It could be. I'm not going to say what we're going to do.

OK, that's it. Thank you very much.

QUESTION: Could Dan talk a little more about Mr. Edmunds?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The family will take a few questions up at the podium.

PHILLIPS: Salt Lake City police chief Rick Dinse wrapping up the news conference there in Salt Lake. Richard Albert Ricci, the handyman, not a charged suspect, but certainly an interesting one according to the police chief. Looks like family -- family, friends stepping up to the podium here.

QUESTION: Did they say anything that made them curious while he was working there?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, I think that they were just trying to help him out and try to, you know -- and he was working for them, and, you know, they didn't feel like there was anything particularly suspicious.

QUESTION: Were they surprised?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He had been -- Mr. Ricci had been referred by a contractor to Lois and Ed. And my understanding is if they felt if there was any concern or any reason to be concerned, they certainly wouldn't have had him there.

QUESTION: Do you know what company he was working for?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I do not. QUESTION: Obviously the family, I mean -- obviously, Mr. Ricci was taken into custody on the 10th. How soon after the 10th did the family learn that he was in custody? And was the picture shown to the family?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lois and Ed, of course, are working very closely with the police and any other aspect of the investigation. We are not permitted -- or can we talk about.

QUESTION: But can you tell us whether or not they knew of Mr. Ricci back on the 10th, or if police said, you know, "We have this guy, possibly, do you know him?"

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think Edward and Lois have been kept up on the situation of everything that's happening. The extended family, of course, does not know everything, and we should not know everything.

QUESTION: Did Ed and Lois have any particular feelings about this person, Mr. Ricci? Did they say anything to you about -- did they characterize their relationship with him in order to arrest?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, every single person that has been in that home has been looked at, and has been interviewed, and has been questioned by the police. So I don't know that there was any one particular reason why this person was pointed out more than anyone else.

QUESTION: But he didn't stand out to them? They didn't mention, you know, "We had a funny feeling about him?"

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There have been a lot of workers in the home, and every single one of them. And, like I say, I don't think that there was any indication, more for one than another.

PHILLIPS: All right, Elizabeth Smart's aunt and uncle also addressing reporters there.

But we're going to get right down into the main beef, I guess you can say, of this news conference.

Don Clark and former FBI agent, we've been talking a lot about this case in the past couple of weeks.

Let's start with what Salt Lake City Police Chief Rick Dinse had to say, OK. Let's talk about Richard Albert Ricci, the handyman here that's now a bit of a focus. Actually, the police chief says, "Not a charged suspect, but he's interesting."

Let's talk about how the focus here changes.

DON CLARK, FORMER FBI SPECIAL AGENT: Well, I think, Kyra, what the police chief gave us was a new term here, very interesting. One point said he was a witness. And you have to figure, well, what does all of this mean? Well, it obviously means that somewhere along the line there was some investigative leads developed, somewhere during the course of this investigation that led them to Ricci.

And now that he's gotten to Ricci, then the next question becomes: "What investigation is being conducted to try and develop any evidence that could either show that he's totally exonerated and this has nothing do with this whatsoever, or that he may be labeled as a suspect, or even as a subject of this investigation?"

PHILLIPS: All right. A couple of interesting points the chief made. He won't say what kind of medication that Ricci has been taking. They did take things out of his home and, indeed, he did take a lie detector test, but he won't say anything -- he was adamant about that. I'm not saying anything about that lie detector test.

CLARK: Right. Well, first of all, a lie detector test, a polygraph test is an investigative tool. And law enforcement agencies will use that tool as much as they can to try to see if they can, again, develop additional information, or at least dismiss a person as a suspect in a case.

I would suggest, though, that when the lie detector -- and I shouldn't use that term. When the polygraph examination is positive, in terms of that the suspect they figure have lied during the course of this polygraph examination, then you can bet that the investigate process is going to increase to see if they can develop that further.

If they find out and they conclude that it is conclusive, and the person is telling the truth, then they may not leave that person because it's not the cure-all for everything. But they may very well start to venture into other directions.

PHILLIPS: All right, if this Ricci man is interesting, not necessarily a charged suspect, but he's interesting. And he is -- he does end up being highly involved with this case, and is the one that has been involved with Elizabeth Smart. They've gone to see him, they've gone to his home. Wouldn't they find Elizabeth?

CLARK: Well, you know, this -- you're on target, in terms of, if he had taken this young girl, and if she's still alive. The likelihood is that she may be someplace where he can get to her from time to time.

But the truth of the matter is, and as painful as I know this is for family, that we really have look at the statistic of what really happened in this case, and these types of cases, within hours people of such mind to abduct these kids like this, use them for whatever sinister purpose that they chose, and then they simply get rid of them.

And that would be the case of a person who has done so, and then tried to appear to be totally innocent in this.

I have to tell you, Kyra, in Texas, we have several of these types of investigations where people that we actually suspected of being involved in this, were actually out on the scenes trying to help look for the body.

PHILLIPS: I have covered stories, same situation.

Let's talk about the family. Lois and Ed Smart came out, the mom with a very heartfelt story about Elizabeth: "Elizabeth, remember that time you were on your horse, and you got lost, and you got down on your knees, and you prayed. I want you to remember what you did then and do that right now."

It's just heart wrenching, these pleas, these signs of hope.

CLARK: Yes. You know, it's a roller coaster ride for the family. Again, having worked with families like this, I mean, we just can't imagine what they go through. And they must, at all times, keep that focus that their child is still alive someplace. I mean, they have to keep that focus on that.

On the other side of the coin, while the investigators are hoping that the same thing takes place, they've also got to look at reality of evidence and investigative process, and look at all aspects of what could have happened during the likelihood.

And again, back to the statistics again, within hours sometimes the worst occurs in these situations. But with that family, keep it -- we went to the Edmunds' situation first.

PHILLIPS: And he's being very cooperative.

CLARK: That's right. Now, he's been very cooperative in this, so you've got now, two people; one from Edmunds to Ricci, both seem to be very cooperative in this, but that doesn't mean that either one is guilty, and certainly we don't want to place guilt here. But on the same token, from an investigative perspective, you can't just wipe the decks clean and say, they've had no involvement in this.

But for family, yes. They're going to be up and down on that roller coaster, and you have to hope that they keep thinking that their child is still alive.

PHILLIPS: Former FBI agent Don Clark, thanks Don.

CLARK: Thank you, Kyra.




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