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Philadelphia Police Hold Press Conference

Aired July 25, 2002 - 09:30   ET


PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Go straight to Philadelphia right now where there is some breaking news. We are going to be hearing from some of the investigators involved in nabbing two men in the investigation of the kidnappers of Erica Pratt. Let's listen in.


ZAHN: Well, in case you are wondering if something is wrong with your television set, there isn't. The audio coming out of there isn't too good at the moment, but there, two of the chief inspectors will be addressing what happened with detaining these two suspects earlier this morning.

I think we might have this worked out now, let's drop in again.


ROBERT DAVIS, CHIEF INSPECTOR, PHILADELPHIA POLICE: ... taken to Mercy Hospital. One of the males had some cuts on his feet. He was running. Apparently he ran out of sneaks when he jumped out of the Explorer, and he was running and had cuts, abrasions, bruises on his foot. The other one was found on top of a one-story garage, and he had a groin pull from climbing over a fence. They were both brought to Southwest Detective's Division where they are being questioned by investigators, and they will be charged and subsequently arraigned.

QUESTION: Can you give us an idea what led to that area? Was it a tip call...

DAVIS: We were working on information, the detectives had been working all night long on tips that we had received, or information that we had received. Struck out earlier in the evening, we were in pursuit of one of the males, and unfortunately, he alluded us. But they dogged it down and finally captured him.

QUESTION: Any idea what they were doing in that area?

DAVIS: From what we -- what I understand is that they were preparing to leave the city, and they were either looking for money or some assistance in getting out of town.

QUESTION: Do you think that they have been together the whole time, they have been in that same area the whole time (OFF-MIKE)? DAVIS: They were probably in the same area, but they weren't together when we were pursuing the one male earlier in the evening. Johnson wasn't with him. We were pursuing Burns, and Johnson wasn't with him at that time.

QUESTION: Any idea where they've been the whole time?

DAVIS: No, we have no idea.

QUESTION: How many officers were on the scene?

DAVIS: On the scene? There was Lt. Byrne, a couple -- one detective, and at least three marked units.

QUESTION: Any idea if anyone is going to get the $10,000 reward for information leading to their arrest?

DAVIS: I don't know. That's something the DA -- the investigators will have to discuss with the Crimes Commission (ph).

QUESTION: What gives you the impression that they were getting ready to leave the city?

DAVIS: From the information that we had received. It indicated that they were -- they were preparing to go down South.

QUESTION: Do you know where down South?

QUESTION: Do you think these guys were the only two involved in this whole kidnapping?

DAVIS: We are investigating that, we're looking at peripheral subjects, but there is nothing positive on that.

QUESTION: Could you give us some sense of what it means to the detectives and everybody who has worked the hours you guys have worked to bring this case (OFF-MIKE)?

DAVIS: It's a tremendous feeling of satisfaction. These guys, Lt. Shivwood (ph) and his fellows and the other investigators really worked hard. I mean, round-the-clock, especially since the abduction, they probably worked 36 hours straight trying to get these guys, and it was good police work. A lot of assistance from the FBI, intelligence -- gave us a lot of information, a narcotics unit. Everybody pitched in, and really worked on it doggedly for the last two days to come up with the information and subsequently the arrest. So, I mean, there's a relief and satisfaction.


DAVIS: We're still investigating the incident.

QUESTION: Where down South were they going to go?

DAVIS: We don't know, we don't know.

QUESTION: Did they say they were just going to go down South?

DAVIS: Well, they haven't said anything. It was just the information that we had received.

QUESTION: Were there any weapons in that car?

DAVIS: We are applying for search warrant right now for the vehicle.

QUESTION: Is the vehicle still left on the street over there?

DAVIS: I believe it is, yes. Yes.

QUESTION: And where is that, detective?

DAVIS: 4800 Trinity.


QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) this morning.

DAVIS: How it unfolded?


DAVIS: All right. You want the officers to...

QUESTION: Can you identify yourself?

DAVIS: I'm Chief Inspector Robert Davis. This is Lt. David Byrne. He was the one who was (ph) detective and uniformed personnel today.


DAVIS: David, spell your last name, please.




QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: How did it exactly unfold this morning?

BYRNE: Well, information we received, we spotted a car that we thought was involved, and we called for some back up officers, and we sat on it for a while, and we spotted people in it. And then we decided to go up and investigate it. And the two males bolted on us, and we started running after them. They ran to 48th and Chester, and then they got themselves on Regent (ph) -- was it Regent Street? Regent Street, where I almost got one at that time, and then he got up and got over the fence, and I got back in my car and went around the block, and by that time, the uniform officers had one of the officers -- one of the defendants in custody, but I knew the second one was back in that -- back in those homes there. And about ten minutes later, Officer Juan Rivera (ph) caught the other one on the garage roof.


BYRNE: About 10, 15 minutes.

QUESTION: Officer Rivera (ph) went up on the roof to get him?

BYRNE: Yes, he did. He was lying on the roof flat, prone position, trying to keep himself quiet, thinking we were going to leave without checking the area.

QUESTION: He was trying from hide from you. He thought you were going to go away.

BYRNE: Yes, he was.

QUESTION: Which one was on the roof?

BYRNE: I believe Johnson.

QUESTION: Any idea what the men have been doing the past few days?

BYRNE: No, I don't.

QUESTION: Do you have any idea how close you guys were to the (UNINTELLIGIBLE)? Were they sitting in the car because they were getting ready to leave and go down South soon, or do you have any idea?

BYRNE: Well, they were sitting in the car. I don't know what time they were leaving or where they were going, but I just that we spotted them in the car, and decided to go and check it out. We got two car lengths away from them when they both bolted out of the car, started running, and one ran out of his sneakers. That is why his feet was all cut up. Because they ran a good three blocks, jumping over fences, and there is broken glass and debris around that area.

QUESTION: What was he wearing? (OFF-MIKE)

BYRNE: One had jeans on, one had, I think, shorts and T-shirts.

QUESTION: Must be a sense of satisfaction being involved in getting these guys off the street.

BYRNE: Yes it was. It felt very good. Everybody did a nice job, and what can I say?


QUESTION: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) in a matter of minutes, they could have been gone, they could have been on 95.

BYRNE: Yes, they could have. We could have missed them by five minutes.

QUESTION: Did they put up any kind of struggle?

BYRNE: Well, they ran away from us, yes, they did, and then they were jumping over fences, and then, when I got around there, the two officers, Tom's team (ph), had one in custody, and like I said, the second one was on the rooftop.

QUESTION: Did they make any sort of statements when they were captured, did they talk to the officers?

BYRNE: No. No.

QUESTION: Why did you think they were in the blue Explorer?

BYRNE: From information we received from working all night long and we saw a car that matched the description, and we sat on it, and then we saw somebody's head pop up and we decided to check it out.



BYRNE: No, I do not.

QUESTION: Whose car was it?

BYRNE: I'm not sure right now. It is been under investigation.

QUESTION: Do they live in the area? (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

BYRNE: It has all been under investigation right now. I don't know a lot of other things (ph), I don't know exactly where they live at. No.

QUESTION: What kind of car was it?

BYRNE: It was a blue Explorer.

QUESTION: A new one?

BYRNE: Yes, it looked pretty new.


BYRNE: It was in good condition, it wasn't all banged up.

ZAHN: You have been listening, and we'll continue to see Lt. Byrne describing what led up to the wild nabbing of two suspects involved -- allegedly involved in the abduction of 7-year-old Erica Pratt. Police working on tips went to a southwest section of Philadelphia, spotted the suspects. The suspects gave chase, one in bare feet running, the police say, as much as three blocks at one point, one of the suspects hiding on a rooftop, police ultimately getting to them. What is interesting, the arresting officer said that five minutes separated them from potentially losing these guys. Apparently, they had gotten a tip that these guys were going to head South, and apparently had gone to a place where they were getting some money to allow them to take this trip. So, good news from the Philadelphia Police Department's point of view, that they have nabbed two suspects, a man named James Burns, 29 years old, and Edward Johnson, 23 years old, who are accused of kidnapping little 7-year-old Erica Pratt who had this miraculous story of escaping from an abandoned house, even though she had duct tape on her eyes and on her feet.




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