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California Boy Kidnapped in Home Invasion, Father Injured

Aired August 28, 2002 - 09:59   ET


CAROL LIN, CNN ANCHOR: We are following a developing story out of California. A 9-year-old boy has been snatched by two men who burst into his home overnight. A Riverside police officer says Nicholas Michael Farber was grabbed by two men in a home invasion about five hours ago. Nicholas's father was beaten and is being treated for his injuries.
Little Nicholas is described as 4 feet 4 inches tall. He has brown hair with blond highlights. He was last seen wearing only Fruit of the Loom underwear briefs.

Police say the two men sped away from the Palm Desert home in a white SUV identified as a GMC Yukon.

Leon, I think you've got more information. But first, we also want to hear from a police officer in Riverside County -- just came in. This is what they had to say out at the scene.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, what the motive was, is this an actual -- you know, again, it is an abduction, but as to the motive behind it, we don't know at this point.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And that vehicle is a white SUV.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right, it's a white SUV-type vehicle, possibly it looks like a GMC or Chevy Yukon.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The father wasn't seriously injured, then, if he was treated and released.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right. My understanding is, though, he did need medical attention, and once he was taken to the hospital, he was treated and he was released.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He did not know these people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My understanding, at this point in time, I do not know if he did know the assailants, but again, once sheriff investigators get more information, we will be able to shed more light on this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 2:00, so a number of hours have passed. They could be almost anywhere in southern California.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right. And again, it was very quick that the information got out. Our dispatchers immediately -- once it was dispatched through our own sheriff deputies here locally, it was broadcast through the entire Coachella Valley all the way to Blythe, and against, throughout Riverside County law enforcement agencies, at which time we did contact the California Highway Patrol to issue an "Amber Alert."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And, John (ph), were any of the neighbors awakened by anything, or was this done rather quietly?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, again, I'm sure it was a lot of commotion, and that's what we're looking into right now. Hopefully -- you know, we are going to take a look into the neighbors, and ask them if maybe anyone saw anything that also could give us more description on the type of vehicle and possibly a license plate.


LIN: Once again, the search is on for Nicholas Michael Farber, a little boy who is out there somewhere right there. An "Amber Alert" has been issued.

LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: And, Carol, we have just learned some additional bits of information about this case. As matter of fact, this father, we understand, was admitted to the hospital, and as we said, he did suffer some sort of assault in the process of this kidnapping here. And he was treated and released from Eisenhower Medical Hospital.

So we'll keep our eyes and ears tuned to whatever happens with him, and of course, whenever he ends up talking to the police about it.

In the meantime let's talk now with our law enforcement analyst, Mike Brooks, who is joining us on the phone right now.

Mike, can you hear me?


HARRIS: Good morning, Mike.

Give us an idea of what's happening right now at this stage.

BROOKS: Well, as the officer from Riverside County said, right now, what is the motive? They don't know what the motive is.

You know, some questions that investigators are probably asking, you know, what are the underlying issues behind this abduction? You know, and what is the relationship between the mother and father? I haven't heard anything about a mother listed right now. Could this be a domestic case? Possibly.

You know, what is the relationship between the father and these people? Does the father know the people that came into the house? You know, how did the kidnappers get in? Was it a forced entry? Did someone let them in? These are all questions that remain to be seen.

And there is something that's very unusual that's being reported through the wires, and that's that weapons by the abductors were left at the scene. That is highly unusual, and that really would add some more questions about this.

HARRIS: Does that tell you anything, or does it cause anything to come to mind?

BROOKS: Well, either they were, you know, bumbling kidnappers and left their weapons there. But again, if they left their weapons there, that's more evidence, so -- you know, to help make the case.

But I think the biggest thing you want to find out is motive. You know, what was the motive behind this? The father was assaulted. You know, is this retaliation against the parents, against the father by someone that he might have known, that the mother might have known? There are a lot of questions to be asked right now in this early stage.

HARRIS: I would have guessed that this would not seem or appear to be a random house break-in situation. Does it occur to you that you way?

BROOKS: No, it sounds like a home-invasion, abduction kind of thing. And you know, and the father was admitted to the hospital. You know, how serious his injuries are remains to be seen, but it does sound like this house was targeted, that the family was targeted for some reason.

HARRIS: Exactly. And particularly, if what we just heard is true that the father was treated and released, he apparently was not injured too badly, even though there were weapons at -- you know, in play here.

BROOKS: Yes, you know, that's the whole thing that kind of has me asking questions. I'm sure it has the investigators asking questions also. You know, if the -- how badly did the father get in the way? You know, that kind of thing. And what is the motive? And I think that remains to be seen. There are a lot of questions early on.

HARRIS: Considering how quickly all of this was reported and acted upon, Mike, how big of a circle here or big of a dragnet do you think that the police there probably have to go ahead and throw out?

BROOKS: Well, you don't have much to go on there. There are some scarce descriptions about one Hispanic male and maybe another Hispanic or a black male that's involved in this. They had stocking masks over their face, and they were in -- sped away in a white SUV. Apparently, no tag number that has been put out.

And what I heard the latest from the desk in Atlanta is that Riverside County had given the information to the California Highway Patrol, but the California Highway Patrol is saying that an "Amber Alert" was not put out, because there was not enough information. HARRIS: Really? So we just heard that one Riverside police officer just talked about that on tape. He said that an "Amber Alert" was actually issued.

BROOKS: Right. Well, what we are hearing is from the California Highway Patrol, they are saying that the information apparently was given to them by Riverside. California Highway Patrol is the one that controls the "Amber Alerts" in California and controls the highway signs. And apparently, there was not enough information. But we are going to check into that and see if we can get some more information on that also.

HARRIS: Well, Mike, did they say how much information they needed? Did they say how much was given? Did they say what was missing?

BROOKS: No, they didn't. There's nothing that said -- if I was a law enforcement officer and I just knew that there was a white SUV, possibly a Yukon, you know, there are a lot of white SUV Yukons out there, And that's one of the problems that some of the critics of the "Amber Alert" says, you know, does law enforcement jump the gun too soon? Do they put, you know, too little information out? And are people getting harassed?

Well, as far as I'm concerned, you know, if I wasn't doing anything wrong and I got pulled over by the police because of a kidnapping, I wouldn't mind them asking me some questions about this.

HARRIS: Yes, exactly. Boy, interesting.

Mike Brooks, we'll let you go, and dig up some more information, and of course, the minute you get some, give us a call back.

Mike Brooks, our law enforcement analyst here at CNN.

LIN: I agree with you, Leon. It doesn't sound like this is a random break-in. It sounds like there is some sort of relationship between the kidnappers and the family.

HARRIS: Yes. And if they did leave any information -- any sort of information behind by the way of fingerprinting or whatever, or weapons or something like that...

LIN: Right.

HARRIS: ... I think it'll make it a lot easier to track them down, too.

LIN: Right. Interesting, though, that the police -- the local police have issued the "Amber Alert." The CHP, the California Highway Patrol, has not, which means that statewide...

HARRIS: Exactly.

LIN: ... as this vehicle travels around, statewide, people will not be notified, but the commuters in Riverside County will be notified.

HARRIS: In the immediate community, exactly.

LIN: That's right. We are learning a little bit more about the father. He is 47 years old, Michael Farber. He was treated overnight at Eisenhower Medical Center.

And right now, we have on the telephone with us, Mary Kay Plock. She is a public information officer there.

Mary Kay, can you hear me?


LIN: All right. It's hard -- it's difficult for me to hear you, but can you give me an idea of when Mr. Farber was admitted to the hospital? And what was he exactly treated for?

PLOCK: He was brought to the hospital at 2:56 this morning to the emergency department. He was treated for contusions to his face, head and chest, and he was released at 5:10 this morning.

LIN: All right. Did he describe to any of your hospital staff exactly what happened inside the house?

PLOCK: I am limited in the amount of information that I can release, as a hospital spokesperson, so I don't have any information about how he received the injuries.

LIN: OK. Can you at least describe the nature of the injuries, how serious they were? It might be an indication of the kind of struggle that took place.

PLOCK: I did not receive any information from the emergency department about how serious they were. Again, I am limited in what I can release.

LIN: Well, why don't you tell me what you can release about what you know.

PLOCK: Just that he had contusions to his face, head and chest, and that he was treated in the emergency department and released without being admitted.

LIN: All right. Do you know what his frame of mind was at the time that he came in, or if he was with anybody?

PLOCK: I don't know that.

LIN: All right. Thank you very much.

PLOCK: You're welcome.

LIN: Mary Kay Plock, public information officer at Eisenhower Medical.

We do know that Michael Farber, the father, 47 years old, has been released, treated overnight at that medical center.

The little boy, his son, Nicholas Michael Farber, brown hair with blond highlights, 9 years old, 4 feet 5 inches tall, last seen wearing Fruit of the Loom brief underwear.

What we do know at this point is that two suspects, two men, broke into the home, the Farber home, and struggled with the father, apparently, as he was treated for these injuries to his head, face and chest, and then kidnapped this little boy and took off in some sort of a four-wheel -- white four-wheel vehicle.

An "Amber Alert" has been issued only in the surrounding areas of south Palm Springs, and not a statewide alert. An "Amber Alert" has not been issued yet by the California Highway Patrol.

The nature of the crime here, the relationship between the kidnappers and the family, we do not know yet. But we do know that this little boy is missing, and that he needs to be found.

HARRIS: Yes, so we did get some more specific information about the vehicle. It was a GMC white Yukon, is what we are being told. That's what the police out there are looking for.

LIN: They don't have a license plate...

HARRIS: No license number.

LIN: ... that they have released yet. But weapons were left at the scene.


LIN: So they do have some clues to work on, and a good physical description of these two men.

HARRIS: Exactly. All right, we'll stay on top of that story.




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