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Georgia Authorities Update Murder/Kidnapping Case

Aired January 8, 2004 - 16:47   ET


PAUL BEGALA, CNN ANCHOR: We have to go quickly live to Calhoun, Georgia, where the Gordon County Sheriff's Department is holding a press conference on a manhunt.

VERNON KEENAN, DIRECTOR, GEORGIA BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION: I'd like to just tell you very plainly, we do not have the three children. We do not have them located. We do not know where they are at. We are very concerned about their safety.

This afternoon, we asked the FBI to bring in resources to work with the GBI and the Gordon County Sheriff's Department, so that we could set up a massive task force to continue the investigation and attempt to recover the three children and to effect the arrest of Jones. The FBI is bringing in additional resources, as is the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. And I'll ask the FBI SAC to make some comments on that in just a minute.

We are receiving a tremendous amount of information from surrounding law enforcement agencies. We're having calls that are coming in from the public in regards to possible sightings of Jones and the three children. All of this, combined with the investigation we have going on with the four murder victims, is requiring us to bring in additional resources.

We will do whatever it takes. We will bring in whatever staffing and equipment is necessary for us to track down Jones and to recover these children.

With that, I'd like the FBI to speak to a moment about resources that they have on coming up with us at this time -- Kevin.

KEVIN PERKINS, FBI SPECIAL AGENT: Thank you, Director Keenan.

The FBI out of Atlanta will be providing logistical support and resources to the GBI and to the sheriff's office here in a task force environment, so that we will be able to provide information resources, backbone command post structures. We are being inundated at the moment with many, many leads, phone calls from the public.

And we need to -- at the process right now, what we are trying to do is set up a command post structure that will handle these matters and efficiently handle the leads. Also, this evening, we are attempting to put together an 800 call service, so that we can have an 800 number for the public to utilize to phone in tips. That number is not available yet. It should be available later this evening. And when it is, we will -- we will ask you to publish that number at that point in time. The FBI is also in the process of obtaining an unlawful-flight-to-avoid-prosecution warrant for the subject, otherwise known as a UFAP warrant. That warrant is in the process of being obtained. Our field offices, both regionally and across the country, will be involved in the search for this individual and for these children.

KEENAN: Before the sheriff makes some comments, I'd like to thank the surrounding law enforcement jurisdictions. All of the sheriff's departments in north Georgia have been working with Gordon County sheriff's department and the investigators in going out and checking various motels and lodging facilities in north Georgia to attempt to locate the -- Jones around the vehicle which we believe he is still -- still operating in.

We have no information to point to any specific location where Jones and the children may be. We do not know if they're in Gordon County. We do not know if they're in Georgia. We do not know if they're in a surrounding state. For that reason, we have put out a nationwide lookout to all law enforcement, asking for them to help us search for Jones, the children, and hopefully recover the three children.

We will -- we've also activated the Amber Alert in all of the states surrounding Georgia in an attempt to see if law enforcement or a citizen can spot the vehicle and get that information to us. We've received many, many sightings of the vehicle, but nothing that has -- that leads us directly to a location that we can feel confident about.

With that, I'll ask the sheriff to make some comments.

JERRY DAVIS, GORDON COUNTY SHERIFF: To cap what Vernon, GBI says, we've got that Amber Alert. We've got it nationwide at this time. And all the law enforcement agencies that's helping us, we want to thank them for what they have done for us. We want to thank the FBI that's come in.

And we've got this 1-800 number that should be in order at what time?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This evening. We don't have a time (OFF- MIKE) right now.

DAVIS: Tonight sometime, to take off the workload on our telephones.

But, the GBI and FBI, ourselves, we're working real hard to find him. And, hopefully, we can have some more information to give you the next go-around.

QUESTION: What time were the children actually -- when did you all know the children were missing?

DAVIS: Approximately about 3:30.

QUESTION: Yesterday?

DAVIS: Yesterday.

QUESTION: Sheriff...


QUESTION: Why was the Amber Alert issued this morning at 8:30, then, just for Georgia? Why wasn't it issued yesterday?

DAVIS: Ma'am?

QUESTION: If the children were missing yesterday -- you said that they were -- you knew that they were missing yesterday -- why was the Amber Alert issued this morning and not yesterday?

DAVIS: We didn't know that three children was missing. We knew that we had the deaths at 3:30 yesterday.

KEENAN: Actually, the -- there were two calls that came to the sheriff's department. One was at 3:30 yesterday afternoon.

The sheriff's department personnel went to the location, went to the location, checked, found nothing there. We now know that the bodies had been secreted at the residences and the crime scene had been cleaned up.

A second call came to the sheriff's department last night shortly after 11:00 p.m. At that time, the sheriff's department sent deputies back out to the residence. They forced their way into the residence and found the bodies. So, the determination that we had a quadruple murder and had missing children came -- was not known until yesterday, last night, around 11:15 p.m.

It took several hours to determine what type of vehicle was missing from the residence and to get the tag number. Immediately, upon the sheriff's department and the GBI finding that tag number and having the vehicle...

BEGALA: Officials in Gordon County, Georgia, briefing reporters on the status of a manhunt for a man accused of murdering four people, including his own 10-month-old daughter, and accused of kidnapping three girls.

CNN will stay on top of the story.


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