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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Samantha Runnion Investigation Press Conference

Aired July 18, 2002 - 15:05   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.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

GEORGE JARAMILLO, ASST. SHERIFF, ORANGE COUNTY: ...murder of little Samantha Runnion. We have aggressively, the Orange County Sheriff's Department, as well as the FBI and numerous other local, state and federal agencies, been pursuing hundreds of leads. These men and women in law enforcement have pursued these leads as much as possible to their logical conclusion.

In the course of pursuing these leads, there have been numerous detentions. There have been a few arrests. There have been vehicles impounded. None of that, however, is to be mistaken with there having been an arrest for the kidnapping and murder of Samantha Runnion.

And I want to warn the media, while have you been very, very helpful thusfar, and the public has reacted very well and consequently we have the leads to pursue, please, please be responsible in reporting the issues of the arrest. The minute the arrest was reported, the phones stopped ringing. The fact is there has not been an arrest. When there is an arrest, you will know immediately when we have arrested someone for this crime.

Again, no arrest has been made. We're very confident that one will be made. I will reiterate what Sheriff Carona mentioned earlier, yesterday, and that is that there is an awful lot of evidence to sift through. There are a lot of people that we need to talk to. There are a lot of people that we'll be detaining, and we're confident we will chase this criminal down and arrest him. Thusfar, we have not made an arrest in this case.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (OFF-MIKE)

JARAMILLO: Well, I will tell you right now, we have not arrested the suspect in this kidnap-homicide case. It is premature to think that any of the people that have been detained are or are not the individuals we are looking for.

But I will tell you this, as law enforcement has contact with people - and there's more than 100,000 police officers out there looking, the FBI nationally and internationally. As law enforcement has contact with people, those individuals who are driving green cars, those individuals who generally meet or match the description are going to be detained and questioned. In some cases -- and there have been some already that you are aware of -- the people that are detained and questioned are subsequently arrested for other violations of law. That does not mean we've made an arrest in the case. It may be, perhaps, that one of these people turns out to be the suspect. That is not the case yet. But we will tell you clearly, emphatically and unequivocally when we have made and arrest in this case. That will be the clearly made known to the public.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (OFF-MIKE)

JARAMILLO: I don't have any information. My sense would be that some would be detained on other charges.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (OFF-MIKE)

JARAMILLO: Well, to answer your question, absolutely in contact with San Diego. The sheriff's department, the FBI and all law enforcement is working very well, not only in California in the state, but throughout the united states.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So there's no connection then for sure or you don't ...

JARAMILLO: There is nothing for sure. And again, I've got to be very clear and repetitive in that point. We don't know anything for sure. Hundreds of leads are being followed up on. When an arrest is made, you will know. When there's appropriate connections that we can put out that will not hamper the investigation, you will know.

Additionally, today at 3:30 p.m., there will be a press conference with the commissioner of the CHP, Spike Helmick and Sheriff Mike Carona where we'll discuss a couple of the issues where the CHP and the Sheriff's Department and the FBI have collaborated.

One other thing, before I take more questions, there are parolees and probationers and people that are sex offenders that are going to be contacted in the course of the investigation. And it will be determined, after that contact, what, if any, involvement they have had. But again, please don't put out that there's an arrest unless you hear those words come from our lips. Yes, Ma'am.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (OFF-MIKE)

JARAMILLO: It's not a static number, and it is not a focused locale. This will go as far as it needs to go. It may be at dozens now. It may grow to hundreds. The focus may be in southern California now. It may go statewide and then nationally and internationally. We want to make sure that the public understands that this is a broad net, and a very effective net that has been cast. And we remain, as the sheriff said yesterday, very confident that arrests will be made, but one has not been made.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) had a warning to the parents. Presumably, nothing happened last night, no attacks last night or today. Is the warning still there? What do you want to tell people?

JARAMILLO: Let's not focus with time frames because we limit ourselves and we limit the public. No one is saying, if this is an individual that will be a repeat offender, whether it will be today, tomorrow or next year. All right?

It would be irresponsible for law enforcement not to put out a warning to the public. This is a wake-up call to all of us as parents, as law enforcement officials and, frankly, as children. So just practice those things that the sheriff talked about yesterday and that we all know innately.

Don't talk to strangers. If a stranger approaches you, tell somebody. If there is somebody in your neighborhood you do not recognize, make sure your parents are aware of it. Just the general safety tips that we've known since we were in kindergarten. Right now is a good time to remind the public of that. That is not to say that we expect anything imminent. It's also not to say that there is no danger out there.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What about the reward?

JARAMILLO: The what?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The reward?

JARAMILLO: OK. The sheriff and commissioner - actually Sheriff Carona will talk about the reward later today. It is growing, and appropriately so. There's a lot of people that are interested in this, certainly in California and possibly beyond. OK. Thank you very much. We'll see you all at 3:30 p.m..

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: All right. We've been listening to Officer George Jaramillo with the authorities out there, giving us an update. Essentially, what he was doing was refuting a piece on another network, something we had been reporting anyway.

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