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Boy Taken in Home Invasion

Aired August 28, 2002 - 10:58   ET


CAROL LIN, CNN ANCHOR: Up first on CNN, another bold, middle of the night kidnapping in California. This time, police say two men took 9-year-old Nicholas Michael Farber from his Palm Desert home. They made off with the boy in a white GMC Yukon. The boy is described as having brown hair with blond highlights. He is a little over 4 feet tall and weighs 55 pounds. Nicholas was wearing only his underwear.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My understanding is that there were weapons left at the scene. As to what type of weapons, I don't know. Right now, the investigation is still continuing. We do have our technicians on scene collecting evidence right now, and as more information as to what was left and what happened here becomes available, I will let people know.

QUESTION: Is it my understanding that there may have been other people in the SUV that took the boy?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, my understanding right now is that we do know that two dark-skinned males did enter the location forcefully and assaulted the father and then abducted young Nicholas, at which time I believe the father then saw what appeared to be possible three, maybe four individuals in the SUV as it was leaving the location.


LIN: Mike Brooks is our CNN law enforcement analyst, and he joins us by telephone from Atlanta -- Mike, good morning.


LIN: Mike, what do you make of this case? This is a pretty bold move to bust into a house in the middle of the night, tackle the father, and steal the boy.

BROOKS: Very much so. As you know, a home invasion abduction like this doesn't happen very often, and there is a lot of questions to be asked about this particular case. The father, we found out, has been released from the hospital. He was apparently released about 5:00 a.m. Pacific Time, and with apparently contusions to the head and chest. So he wasn't hurt too badly.

We just heard from deputy Gutierrez (ph) of the Riverside County sheriff's office, and talking about some of the lookout and those kind of thing, and very unusual to have the weapons left at the scene. That's what I find extremely unusual.

LIN: What does that tell you about these guys? It's either they were in a hurry. You know, what kind of weapons were left there. We do not know if it was guns, knives, clubs, you know this. It's all speculation right now. We don't know what kind of weapons, but we do know that there were some weapons, as has been confirmed by the sheriff's office.

But it's just very unusual. Were they led into the house? Was there forced entry? There is a lot of questions still to be asked. And you know, what is the relationship, if any between father and the abductors. There is a lot of questions. I'm sure the investigators will be on the scene, doing a canvass of the neighborhood that time of the morning. There is always someone that would hear something or say something. So there is still a lot of investigative leads to be followed out, and a lot of questions to be answered.

LIN: Mike, right now, we're going to go -- stay right there, because I want you to listen in as well as you can. We're listening in and watching now a press conference out at the scene.

QUESTION: Was there anyone else in the house, and where is the mother?

JOHN KAISER, RIVERSIDE SHERIFF'S DEPT.: My understanding is I believe it was just the father and son alone in the house. As to the whereabouts of the mother, that is unknown.

QUESTION: Can you tell us the condition of the father right now?

KAISER: Again, apparently, he has been released from the hospital, so I believe he is in fair condition.

QUESTION: Can you tell us about the house, the boy's room upstairs, downstairs, does he -- this is a single story dwelling, so it's only a one-level house.

QUESTION: No license plate?

KAISER: Again, right now, the only thing we have is just the description of the vehicle, but no license plate.

QUESTION: Not an official Amber Alert.

KAISER: Statewide, no. An Amber Alert statewide has not been issued. I mean, the Riverside County Sheriff's Department did send the information to have one done. However, one was not completed or put out by the California Highway Control.

QUESTION: Has there been any threat issued to the father by anybody he knows in the last couple of months or so?

KAISER: Again, that's an issue we are looking into right day. Once we get more information from the father, that will hopefully help determine more about what is going on. At this time, I have no further information on that. QUESTION: Could drugs be involved in this?

KAISER: Anything is possible, but again, this investigation has to go through a big broad. So we have to start out big and narrow it down.

QUESTION: Any motive, any idea of whether or not this was a targeted thing, a robbery or anything like that?

KAISER: Again right knew, as far as motive we are actively pursuing to find out what actually did go on here, and until we get more information available, as soon as I get it, I will be releasing that .

QUESTION: Was anything taken from the home?

KAISER: Again, right now, as far as what was taken from the home, I do not know.

QUESTION: What does the father do for a living?

KAISER: I don't have any background on the father at this time.

QUESTION: How old is the father?

KAISER: That I don't have either.

QUESTION: And the this alert then is a modified alert. That is a -- OK, not statewide.

KAISER: No, the Riverside County Sheriff's Department put out an Amber Alert, and contacting all of our local agencies and putting it out. We didn't follow sending through information again, like I said, through the EDIS, which is EDIS -- emergency digital information system -- to the California Highway Patrol, requesting that a statewide Amber Alert be put out.

QUESTION: Has his picture gone through the track system?

KAISER: Yes, that has been done, as we speak.

QUESTION: So that would mean any law enforcement agency in the state of California could pick up his picture.

KAISER: That is correct, through the tracking system.

LIN: John Kaiser, the Riverside County Sheriff's Department there, giving what he knows about this investigation into the kidnapping of this 9-year-old little boy and the assault on his father. Still not much information about the family. They say that only the father and the little boy were living in the house.

Mike Brooks, still on the phone with us.

BROOKS: Yes, I am. LIN: You were listening in. He said, John Kaiser, from the Riverside County Sheriff's Department was saying that they want to start big and then narrow their options. So why aren't they quicker about issuing a statewide Amber Alert for this little boy?

KAISER: Well, apparently, the California Highway Patrol said that they don't believe there is enough information to put out statewide. That's why they are kind of keeping it local. There is a statewide system within California for notifications like this, you know, similar Amber Alert systems, if you will.

There are also three other local ones, within California, have the care alert system. In Sacramento, you have got the San Francisco Bay Area Amber Alert plan. And you have got another one called the Tracy Alert in Cochran, California, which is more out toward the desert.

And apparently they have -- there has been cooperation with the local media and the Riverside County to put this out on some of the signs coming into I-10 and also onto highway 60, which feeds into highway 10, using Caltrans signs in that particular area, so there has been a local alert, but the California Highway Patrol didn't feel that there was enough information about the vehicle.

All we know right now is that the light colored or white GMC Yukon, a sport utility vehicle, Yukon type, with no tag number, so maybe they feel that, you know, since there are a lot of vehicles like this in the state of California, that you know, to pull everyone over with that kind of car would be too much.

LIN: The last thing you want are a bunch of vigilantes out on the road.

KAISER: Exactly, and that's one of the problems. And some of the people who talk about the Amber Alert and say that some of the problems with the statewide Amber Alert is that people's rights can be violated, but you know, I have my own opinion on that.

LIN: Well, fortunately, that hasn't happened yet, and the Amber Alert has really come in handy with several high profile cases, in finding some kids.

But is it a good indication that law enforcement has reason to believe that these guys and this little boy are still in the area?

KAISER: It could be, and again, the motive is being questioned right now. You know, what the relationship is. Was it a domestic situation? Was there criminal activities involved? You know, drugs or as someone asked the question in the press conference. Is this a kidnapping, with the motive itself, being you know, the kidnapping of Nicholas? Right now all we can do is speculate when we have nothing firm inform go on right now, but there is a lot of questions that need to be asked.

LIN: All right, well the father was released from the hospital several hours ago. You would think that investigators have had ample opportunity to question this man. Does it indicate to you anything that they're not saying anything about the nature of the family, where the mother is, what the father does. Usually, in a kidnapping situation like this, we hear more details of the family. It builds sympathy. It gets some attention.

KAISER: Right, no, that is a little bit suspect, too, as you mentioned. And so far, I know the investigators were there at the hospital right away getting information, getting background information, starting to run out leads, and you think most likely there is information they are not giving us , and we will hear something a little bit later on today, that will maybe lead us to a little bit more information about the motive for this kidnapping.

LIN: Mike, quick last question here, to the nature of how this whole thing went down. You have two suspects breaking into this house. You have what the father described as at least three suspects in the white SUV outside of the house. The sheer number of guys that it was taking to undertake this kidnapping, the dramatic entry into the house, why -- what does that tell you about what a potential motive might have been, or a message that these guys might have wanted to send?

KAISER: Really, it still remains unknown, I really can't say, it would be all speculation. But you know, that's the whole thing. One of the things that's kind of is mysterious to me is the mother. Is this a domestic situation? As we know, a lot of kidnappings, and sometimes parental kidnappings, happen this way. And again, speculation, that could be one of the motives, but otherwise we are really -- I can't really say.

LIN: All right. Thank you so much, Mike Brooks for joining us. You always help us understand these situations, certainly and as they are breaking.




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