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Car Towed From Rest Stop in Sniper Investigation

Aired October 24, 2002 - 11:01   ET


LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: Our Bob Franken is standing by just a few yards away from where that happened, just moments ago -- Bob.
BOB FRANKEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Just moments ago. You saw it live, of course, on CNN, the trailer followed by a tow truck. They decided that they wanted to keep it in the trailer, for reasons we can only guess. But at any rate, it was taken after about 7 1/2 hours, taken from the rest stop across the highway there, and is going to be taken, we're told, to Montgomery County, where it is going to undergo a very minute search. They're going to be looking for every -- over every inch of it. They now have a search warrant to do it. They were inspecting it to some degree even before they had the search warrant. They have some latitude in that regard.

The arrests occurred about 3:30 a.m., about two hours after the car was first called in by somebody. And then the police swarmed over the area. As I mentioned a moment ago, about 70 police officers from various jurisdictions -- Montgomery County; the local authorities; Maryland State Police; Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms; FBI; etcetera, etcetera -- the same ones who have been part of this task force. They were on the ground. There were about 50 police vehicles in that rest stop, and some dogs, sniffing; and their dogs are specialized in trying to find munitions and the like.

They finally finished their work there. They have now opened up the crime scene, so to speak, and have taken away the most important piece of evidence, that automobile that we just witnessed being taken away in a trailer -- Leon.

HARRIS: Bob, any hints at all as to what was inside that vehicle? You mentioned, moments ago, that duffel bags were taken away from there.

FRANKEN: Duffel bags. There was a long box that was taken from there. We don't know if that was from the vehicle or if that was something that the investigators were using as a container. There are conflicting reports about whether a weapon was found. But they're going to be searching the vehicle. They're going to be looking for false floorboards, they're going to be looking for that type of thing. They're going to be trying to determine just what role it has had in the shootings, or if that was just a car that these two picked up beforehand.

Remember now, when we say that what role it had in the shootings, these guys are being described by various officials as suspects; but of course, they could be wrong. The officials are saying that they're building a fairly strong case. HARRIS: Let me ask you this as well, Bob. Have you had a chance to speak at all with the person that made the phone call in or whoever manages that rest stop area?

FRANKEN: Actually, we -- meaning CNN -- spoke with the manager, and the thing that was most intriguing about that was the fact they were told by the state police who arrived stay in the white van of the person who called. And they had to through the entire ordeal. It was probably a night they'll never forget.

HARRIS: All right, so is the work done there at that site then? We saw the car being taken away. Are they going to be searching that surrounding area for any other forensic evidence of any kind, do you know?

FRANKEN: It certainly looks like the work is done. The area is opening up. We're going to be allowed, or we're certainly make an effort to go over there. Certainly, news crews are already wandering up there, and that's a giveaway that they're through.

What happens sometimes, though, Leon, is a day or two later they decide to revisit an area, and it wouldn't surprise me they would do that again. But for the moment, it seems to be open.

HARRIS: Finally, real quick, Bob: Any idea where these men may have been heading? Why were they in that area?

FRANKEN: I wish I did know. I think that that's one of the huge questions. Obviously, they were trying to get out of town.

And what is intriguing to some people is that the people who were involved in the shootings were people who methodically planned everything. They left nothing to chance. Here were two men who were caught sleeping in their car in a public rest area. It doesn't strike people as consistent.

HARRIS: Yes. I wander how much exhaustion had to play with that.

Bob Franken, standing there besides I-70 at the point where those two men were taken into custody this morning.


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