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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Missing Girl

Aired February 5, 2004 - 09:03   ET

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

BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: This is the press conference we've been anticipating in Sarasota, Florida, regarding the abduction of that 11- year-old girl. The suspect is in custody. We'll see if we've learned more now.
SHERIFF BILL BALKWILL, SARASOTA COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE: Good morning, everyone.

Joseph Smith has representation from the public defender's office. He is not cooperating with us at this time. He's not answering any of our questions that we've asked. We have made it very clear to Joseph and his counsel that we want to know where Carlie is.

He has not been formally charged. However, there is no bond on the unrelated charges that we have on him.

We will not be letting him out of our custody whatsoever. Formal charges will be filed at the appropriate time as we continue to build our case for prosecution. We are in constant communication with our investigators, state attorneys office and everybody is on board. We still have tremendous cooperation from all the agencies involved. Investigators are focusing on searches in areas deemed appropriate, as we continue to get leads as they come in. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is in charge of these leads at this time.

We are certain that the 92 Buick station wagon we have is the vehicle that was used in the abduction. The number of rumors, misinformation is escalating. And we ask that you, the media, exercise prudence in the reporting. Please ask us.

Citizens, we need your help more than anything. We want to locate Carlie. That is what we're after. Any information you can give us on this vehicle and the whereabouts of it, please call us. We are still searching for her.

We hope that Joseph Smith will let us know where she's at. We have set up also people who need to talk. We have a victim assistance program at the sheriff's office. Please contact us if you need to talk to someone. We will set that up. Our prayers go out to the family that we find Carlie immediately.

At this time, this concludes this interview.

QUESTION: Are you answering any questions today, sheriff?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're not answering any questions today. Our next scheduled briefing -- I'm sorry -- our next scheduled briefing will be...

HEMMER: All right, there you have it, from Sarasota, a strong statement from the sheriff, Bill Balkwill, saying not formally charged, Joseph Smith has not been anyway. We are not letting him out of our custody. Formal charges, he suggests, Heidi, will be filed at the appropriate time.

We do know some things about this man, age 37, Joseph Peter Smith, taken into custody Tuesday on unrelated drug charges. He was on probation when he was arrested on Tuesday, numerous arrests on drug charges, and charge of kidnapping, false imprisonment, felony, aggravated battery. He has a long list with the law.

Last night, police searched his home. And again, you heard the talk about that station wagon, a 1992 Buick Century. We are certain, the words of the sheriff, that it had something do with the abduction.

Here's a picture of it right now. It's been impounded, being processed rather for physical evidence. And again, the big thing from the sheriff that he emphasized quite clearly in that briefing that was very short, his statement that Smith is not cooperating yet again today. That was the word late last night. Apparently that's still the case there in Sarasota.

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