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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Rick Dinse Announces Officially That Elizabeth Smart Has Been Returned Alive

Aired March 12, 2003 - 19:01   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

PAUL BEGALA, CNN ANCHOR: Well, Mike, the story today, though I want to follow up on that. It was a remarkable clash in public in the newspaper this morning between the Smart family and the police, where an Uncle of Elizabeth Smart, speaking for the family, said that the police had not been doing a very good job.
They're holding the press conference now, though. We're going to go to that live, Mike. Let's listen.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

RICK DINSE, SALT LAKE CITY POLICE: ... the city of Salt Lake for the Salt Lake Police Department and, quite frankly, for all of Utah. We're here to announce officially that we have found Elizabeth Smart and that she is here and well and healthy in our station. She's with her parents and we are in the process of interviewing her.

Earlier today about 1:00 some police officers from the city of Sandy were dispatched to a location where one of the people that we have been looking for was identified or at least a suspected individual that may have been the individual we were looking for were identified.

I'd like to call up right now -- and first of all, I want to thank Chief Steve Chapman of the Sandy Police Department and his officers for their diligence in bringing these people here and ultimately being the ones who recovered and found Elizabeth -- Chief Chapman.

CHIEF STEVE CHAPMAN, SANDY POLICE DEPARTMENT: I'd like to take all those accolades, but I'd actually like to thanks, first of all, the citizens that became involved in this, having recognized these people earlier this afternoon and then calling the Sandy Police Department and for their diligence in interviewing these people on the street and determining that it was Elizabeth Smart.

I will give you a short synopsis of what occurred this afternoon. At approximately 1:00 p.m., we were notified by our dispatch that two citizens had seen a Mr. Emmanuel, or at least that's who they thought he was. That had been broadcast earlier by the news media and also by Salt Lake City as being someone that needed to be talked to by Salt Lake in reference to the Elizabeth Smart disappearance.

Our officers confronted these people on the street. They were walking on State Street, about 104th South. When they confronted them, they were evasive in some of their answers. They were wearing, actually, wigs at the time, so they were not readily recognizable as who they were.

After some questioning, we were convinced that it was Elizabeth Smart. We were also convinced that it was the suspect that Salt Lake City was wanting to speak with. We, therefore, contacted Salt Lake City, gave them the information that we had. They responded to the scene and then eventually we transported them to the Sandy City Police Department where a short interview took place and then we turned all of our evidence and all of the suspects over to Salt Lake City Police Department. And that's our involvement in that.

Again, I want to thank the citizens who were very alert and did call. And I also want to thank my officers who did a great job of interviewing on the street. And we are just so happy that she's home safe.

DINSE, You know, through this entire investigation we've had a real close partnership with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and I'd like to call up now Special Agent in Charge Chip Burros of the FBI office here -- Chip.

CHIP BURRESS, FBI SPECIAL AGENT: Thank you, Rick. What a great day for the state of Utah, right? Darn right. Up there in that interview room you've got a boat load of officers. You can't wipe the smiles off their face. They are so excited to have her back.

I can't tell you how many times in the FBI we've conducted investigations with our state and local partners where this has not been the outcome. We are so happy today that the outcome is that she's alive, she's back and she's ready and she looks good and we're ready to move on with the investigation.

I think this is an absolute model of law enforcement cooperation. We've held hands with the Salt Lake City Police Department throughout the whole nine months of this investigation. It's an absolute victory tonight for cooperation in law enforcement.

I'd specifically like to thank the Sandy Police Department and the fine work that they've done down there. And I think Rick Dinse and the Salt Lake Police Department deserve an equal amount of credit for the recovery of Ms. Smart, for keeping this investigation alive.

We've got an awful lot of work to do. An awful lot of work. We're only four hours into the recovery of Ms. Smart. So we can't answer a lot of the questions that you probably have. We'll do our very best to try to keep you informed as the investigation progresses, but for obvious reasons we won't be able to tell you everything that you want to know today.

Let me thank personally the agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation who helped in this and clearly the salt lake police department for their fine work in this matter. Thank you very much and what a great day for the state of Utah.

DINSE: Throughout this, we've had another big supporter of ours and behind the scenes and that's been the mayor of our city, Mayor Rocky Anderson. I'd like to call him up here for a minute. MAYOR ROCKY ANDERSON, SALT LAKE CITY: It is indeed a great day for the people of Salt Lake City and throughout this nation. I just spoke with Ed and Lois Smart. I saw Elizabeth in their arms and she couldn't let go of her little brother. They wanted me to pass on -- Ed and Lois -- wanted me to pass on their love and appreciation to the people of this community and throughout this nation.

They wanted me to thank everybody for all of the great support, the search efforts and especially the continued hope and prayers that were sent their way. They believe, indeed, those prayers were answered today.

This family and other loved ones have a lot to work through in the next several days. There's a lot to sort out here. We'd appreciate the cooperation of everyone in giving them some room to get things sorted out, and at the same time I want to thank Ed Smart and Lois Smart in particular, for their courage, for coming out day after day, week after week, never giving up and I've got to say this couldn't have happened without the media.

The media was always there. The media cared. They got the word out. That's why these great people who called the police today knew to call the police. That's why Elizabeth has been recovered today and the family is very, very grateful for the responsiveness and the consideration of the media throughout these very, very difficult, painful, tragic nine months and it's because of everybody coming together as a community.

Here and throughout the United States, it's because of that sense of community that we're able, all of us, to celebrate today.

Welcome home, Elizabeth!

DINSE: Finally, after I'll call up the U.S. attorney Paul Warner to say a few words, and then we'll open it up for a few questions -- understanding that we're not going to be able to answer a lot of questions.

PAUL WARNER, U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE: Thank you, chief.

On behalf of the prosecution's side of the house, I add my congratulations to our law enforcement partners for their terrific efforts in bringing Elizabeth home today. Obviously, as a community, we're completely thrilled and gratified. But as my colleague Chip Burress indicated, we are just four or five hours into this and I can assure you that the prosecutors, both state and federal, will be vigorously and aggressively working with our colleagues in law enforcement to bring about justice for the perpetrators of this kidnapping and other related charges that might be appropriate.

We will be working very closely with David Yoakum and the district attorney's office to review the facts as they become apparent and as we understand exactly what's happened and who did what, when and where. We'll be working very carefully with our state prosecutor counterparts to ascertain exactly what charges are appropriate, who the defendants will be and in what jurisdiction they'll be brought. But this much I can assure you: that those responsible for these acts against Elizabeth will be vigorously prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Thank you.

DINSE: I've talked to David Yoakum, the Salt Lake County district attorney, and he was out of town but he assured me that he is going to work very closely with the U.S. attorney on these filings.

As I said earlier, we have Elizabeth here. She's upstairs with her parents and she is in the process of being interviewed. We also have two suspects.

One of them is David Brian Mitchell, previously known as Emanuel, an individual we had been looking for and attempting to contact for some time.

The second suspect is Wanda Eileen Barzee B-A-R-Z-E-E. And there will be photographs made available to the media after this press conference.

With that, we'll take a few questions.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

DINSE: She's a very smart, alert lady and yes, she does.

QUESTION: Where has she been?

DINSE: I can't answer that at this point. I'm not at liberty to talk about where she's been.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

DINSE: I'm sorry, what?

QUESTION: Do you have anything to say as to Angela Ricci?

DINSE: Yes, Richard Ricci is -- may not be involved in this at this point.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

DINSE: I can't give you any specifics. The information that we're gathering now from her is all evidentiary in nature and we really need to protect that in order to protect the case that we am have here.

QUESTION: Chief, did you work hard enough in locating Mr. Mitchell? Did you work hard enough?

DINSE: I believe these investigators worked very hard at trying to locate Mr. Mitchell. We went out of state, in fact to try to locate Mr. Mitchell. So we was somebody we were looking for.

(CROSSTALK)

DINSE: I'm sorry?

QUESTION: Does Elizabeth look any different?

DINSE: You know, I had never seen her other than the photographs and she looks very much like the photograph. She's a very attractive young lady.

QUESTION: When did you start looking for Mr. Mitchell?

DINSE: When we got the name -- when we found out about Mr. Mitchell.

Yes?

QUESTION: Why was arguably, the best sketch artist not allowed to meet with Mary Katherine in June? And logically, then, why in October was the picture of Mitchell not published until this February for the public to assist?

DINSE: Well, first of all, your assumptions are wrong. She did meet with Mary Katherine. She did interview her.

QUESTION: That was the impression that Mr. (OFF-MIKE)

DINSE: We didn't give information out, a lot of information out -- because we didn't tell you about it didn't know we didn't know what we were doing.

QUESTION: Thank you for clarifying.

DINSE: Yes sir?

QUESTION: What role did "America's Most Wanted" play in the effort (OFF MIKE)

DINSE: I think everybody's role in this played a big part. I think the media in large and the public at large blade a big role in it by getting the information out in front of the media. I think the family did a great job of doing that also.

QUESTION: (OFF MIKE)

DINSE: No, I don't know. In fact, we'll make the individuals who actually found them and called the police available later.

QUESTION: Do you believe that Elizabeth was held against her will?

DINSE: I'm sorry, down here. You had a question?

QUESTION: Chief, I was wondering if Elizabeth has any idea of how much her family was looking for her?

DINSE: She -- the question was does did Elizabeth know how much her family was looking for her? How much -- at this point I can't discuss that. One question? Are we convinced that she was kidnapped? Yes, we are convinced that she was kidnapped did she ever try to escape?

QUESTION: Did she ever try to escape?

DINSE: Did she ever try to escape? I can't answer that question right now.

QUESTION: Was Elizabeth under the influence of drugs?

DINSE: Was Elizabeth under the influence of drugs? I don't have any information and I can't answer that.

QUESTION: Chief, what can you tell us about Emanuel? (OFF-MIKE)

DINSE: He was found in the city of Sandy. Chief Chapman can talk more about the location where he was found but I can't tell you more than that at this time.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

DINSE: I'm sorry?

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

DINSE: You know, that's something that has to be decided at this point and that certainly will be an issue we'll have to look at.

QUESTION: Chief, are you surprised? It seems like all along it was Ricci, Ricci, Ricci and now (OFF MIKE).

DINSE: Well, you know, I said all along -- and if you remember, I've always said that until I can charge somebody with this crime, everybody is a suspect and we are going to continue to look through those people and we did. And we continued to, including Mr. Emanuel and, yes, Mr. Emanuel was one of those people we were interested in talking to.

Up to the point of actually finding Elizabeth with him, that was the basic information other than the fact that Mary Katherine had thought maybe it was Emanuel that was in that room.

QUESTION: What relation was the woman with him?

DINSE: I'm sorry?

QUESTION: What relation was the woman with him?

DINSE: What relation was the woman with him? At this point, we're not -- we don't know. We're still investigating that.

Yes?

QUESTION: Chief, what were the three people wearing when they were found? And has Elizabeth (OFF MIKE) DINSE: You know, I can't -- she is physically -- in appearance, she is physically good. She looks healthy. She does not appear to be physically harm. I can't go beyond.

As far as what they were wearing, Chief Chapman might be able to answer that, but I can't.

QUESTION: Can family members talk.

QUESTION: Do you believe Elizabeth was held against her will this entire time?

DINSE: Do I believe Elizabeth was held against her will -- at this point yes I do.?

QUESTION: Chief why?

DINSE: Well, that's part of what we're investigating, isn't it?

Yes.

QUESTION: Can you tell us about the reunion? What was her demeanor?

DINSE: I think you can imagine what the reunion was look. It was every bit what you can imagine. It was emotional. It was exciting. It was a thrill for everybody. The parents were in tears and it was the kind of reunion you would expect.

QUESTION: What was the witness reaction?

QUESTION: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

DINSE: Well, first of all, we didn't have a real clear understanding of who he was for a while. His real name all we had was Emmanuel and a description. And we did release. We had several descriptions. We had some drawings that were not compatible. They were different-looking drawings so we didn't want to put out drawings that looked differently when we're looking for somebody that could have an impact on it. But we knew we were looking for him. And we did put it out as soon as we had a good drawing.

QUESTION: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) police department he didn't know why he was coming down was that true?

DINSE: I'm sorry. I didn't hear that.

QUESTION: When Ed Smart first got the call and came down to the police department did he know indeed that Elizabeth was here?

DINSE: Well, he knew before I did.

Yes.

QUESTION: Do you believe that (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

DINSE: That's part of what we're investigating and what we hope to find out at this point.

QUESTION: Are there any similarities (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the kidnappings (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

DINSE: No. I don't really -- similarities in that it was a kidnapping and they stayed a long time and beyond that, I don't see the similarities.

Yes.

QUESTION: Chief, what the family members discussed, you said you weren't familiar what Elizabeth used to looked like. But over the last nine months has she gained weight, lost weight, does she look healthy, well? Was she different looking?

DINSE: No, I knew what she looked like based on photographs, but I had not seen her and I have not talked to the parents regarding the change in appearance would be at this time.

QUESTION: Is she going home with her family tonight?

DINSE: Is she going home with her family?

We have some things from the criminal investigation standpoint we have to do with her, but she will be with her family tonight. Yes.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

DINSE: No. Steve Chapman. Chief Chapman can probably answer that better than I can.

QUESTION: Is there any indication of relationship between her and her kidnappers or (UNINTELLIGIBLE)? Any indication of relationship at all that you known about?

DINSE: There was no indication of a relationship. Three more questions.

QUESTION: Did you find weapons?

DINSE: Right there.

QUESTION: Mr. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) you are the hero here.

How do you feel?

DINSE: I am sorry.

QUESTION: You are the hero here.

DINSE: I'm not the hero. (CROSSTALK)

DINSE: My officers are here. After this we'll let you talk to our officers.

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: Composite drawing, how important was that.

DINSE: You know, I can't -- I don't know. You have to ask the people who responded to the call to the Sandy police department. The witnesses, they're the ones.

(CROSSTALK)

DINSE: When can you see her?

It's a little bit early for that -- for me tell you then.

(CROSSTALK)

DINSE: One more question.

QUESTION: Any signs of sexual abuse?

DINSE: I can't answer that at this point. We are still investigating that part of it.

QUESTION: You described how the parents reacted. You haven't said much about Elizabeth's reaction during the reunion.

What was her demeanor?

DINSE: You can imagine that she was very excited. That's all I've said.

That's all the questions we're going to take at this point. If you want to...

QUESTION: Why? Why? Why cut it short?

(CROSSTALK)

DINSE: Because we'll be here all night. I can't answer any more.

(CROSSTALK)

DINSE: OK. All right.

(APPLAUDS)

DINSE: It wasn't a happy time I'd walk on you guys.

(CROSSTALK)

DINSE: Right here.

QUESTION: When the two Sandy officers approached the three individuals -- we have been told that they asked her some questions (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and that arouse suspicion. What about Elizabeth and her question, was she one of the three people being evasive?

DINSE: We're not going to talk about what happened at the point of time and the discussion back and forth between the officers. That's part of the investigation.

QUESTION: Can you tell us about her demeanor when she meet her family. Was she crying? Did she seem like she recognize everybody? Could you give more details?

DINSE: Well, when I saw her, she was in tears and I can't tell you beyond that, because I didn't see when they first -- Ed met his daughter down at Sandy Police Department and I wasn't there.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) have you recovered the black handgun.

DINSE: We have not recovered a black handgun.

QUESTION: Did (UNINTELLIGIBLE) or Mitchell I should say, and Elizabeth spent the first few nights in the hill directly behind the Smart's home.

DINSE: No, I can't confirm any of that.

Yes.

QUESTION: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) comfortable to walk around (UNINTELLIGIBLE) did they not make big deal. Did they think they got away with it or...

DINSE: We're in the process of investigating it and we'll find out, I hope.

Right here.

QUESTION: Thank you. Before today's development, did you feel you were get anything closer to Emanuel?

Had you had leads he might be back in Utah, for example?

DINSE: Well, we had leads that he was in a lot of places. San Diego was one of them, Florida was another. And in fact, we were following up on both of those leads, so we were looking for him. The fact that he was in Utah, unless the investigators had some information I wasn't aware of, no.

QUESTION: Did that surprise you?

QUESTION: Did she tell you anything to support those leads that yes, she was in San Diego, yes, she was in Florida with this guy?

DINSE: No. Can't answer that. Yes, right here.

QUESTION: We have pictures of Elizabeth -- possibly Elizabeth with the two suspects in custody at a party with a veil on.

Do you know anything about that?

Can you clear that up for us at all?

DINSE: No, I know nothing about a party and Elizabeth in a veil. I don't know.

QUESTION: Any concerned about the relationship between Elizabeth and her family and will the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) be any part of investigating that.

DINSE: At this point, there's no concern about that. They're just happy to all be together.

Yes.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

DINSE: Well, you know, Ricci had a lot of information pointed in his direction. And I -- as I said before we go where the evidence takes us. Emmanuel was somebody was someone we had not talked to. The information particularly from the family was significant and we followed up on that. We were aggressively seeking him, as we were seeking everybody that we had not been able to identify or contact within or around that house. And at that point in time Ricci, yes, he was still the guy that had all of the evidence pointing towards him. But Emanuel certainly was somebody who had evidence pointed in his direction and we were looking to find him.

QUESTION: Knowing what you know now if you could go back to October would you put a greater emphasis on Emmanuel after (UNINTELLIGIBLE)?

DINSE: Let me understand this, Kevin.

Knowing what I know now would I go back in October and put more emphasis?

Yes, I would.

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: At the beginning of this investigation was Emmanuel even a suspect.

DINSE: At the beginning of the investigation we didn't even know about Emmanuel.

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) DINSE: I can't answer that. That may be the case, but it didn't come to my attention.

Yes, ma'am.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

DINSE: I can't answer that. I wasn't at that time. I can't remember what was going on. I can tell you everything that we did was based on calculated information around the investigation. It was done to not hurt that investigation. If we held anything back it was because we thought it might have an impact on our ability to solve the case.

QUESTION: What is Emmanuel's record, criminal record, if any?

DINSE: You know, I don't have that.

QUESTION: Is it possible she was brain washed?

DINSE: Is it possible she was brain washed?

I don't know.

Yes. Yes, sir.

QUESTION: Would you consider this dumb luck that they got away with this for 9 months (OFF-MIKE).

DINSE: You know, I can't answer that. I hope we can answer that by the time we're done with the interviews of these individuals.

QUESTION: Are you saying this man who has a suspect since October, you have no idea what his criminal background is?

DINSE: I said somebody probably does. I don't at this point. Maybe if I can get that information for you. I'm sorry.

QUESTION: Are you putting more emphasis on the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) hospital report that (UNINTELLIGIBLE) that night?

DINSE: Well, there's been so many suspicious things regarding this case. I can't tell which one you're talking about.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) hospital report from the security guard?

DINSE: No this doesn't have any additional...

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) regarding the vehicle?

DINSE: I know, regarding the vehicles. No, we don't.

(CROSSTALK)

DINSE: One more question. I gave you (UNINTELLIGIBLE) no shot.

Yes.

QUESTION: Chief you said that as soon as you had a viable sketch you put it out there. How long have you had photographs actually of Emmanuel? The family never (UNINTELLIGIBLE) before for some photographs. How long have you those and why didn't you (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

DINSE: I can't tell you that. I would have to go to the investigators to get the time line. I don't have the time line of all of this.

Thank you very much. Thank you.

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