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Update on Carlie Brucia Case

Aired February 5, 2004 - 15:58   ET


JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: We're interrupting that report by Dana Bash on the president to take you to Sarasota, Florida, where sheriff's officials are talking to reporters about the disappearance of an 11-year-old girl. Let's listen in.

SHERIFF BILL BALKWILL, SARASOTA CO. SHERIFF'S DEPT.: ... the operation that we have going on is at a command center. Not all of our investigators are at that command center. They're out in the field. As they receive tips, they're assigned to certain areas, we follow those tips up. We're constantly moving on them. One of the things that we would like our citizens out there to look for is a pink backpack. If you can look in any particular areas of this particular county, looking for this pink backpack, we would really appreciate it. Look down paths as you're out walking, jogging, look in backyards if you have some isolated areas. Look in some vacant fields. We would want you to look for this pink backpack.

We also want to clarify about the vehicle. We have the vehicle. We've had the vehicle. What we want people to do is look from -- if they can remember from Sunday afternoon to Tuesday morning, if they've seen that vehicle, we want you to call our Amber number, and let us know where you saw the vehicle.

We also are going to select someone from the media to come down and go ahead and video the vehicle so we can bring it back to you and you will be able to get it out. At this time also the enhanced photos that you are wondering about, they're going to be distributed here, hopefully within the next 30 to 45 minutes here. So we're going to get those out to you. We do have them now.

Once again, I want to state that we are still looking and hoping that Carlie will be returned to us immediately. We also are going to continue to follow every lead that we are getting. We also again, I can't tell you, the cooperation that we are getting from the FBI, the Florida department of law enforcement, the U.S. Marshals, National Missing Children, all the local law enforcement agencies, they've been tremendous. Our community has been tremendous.

Over 100-some volunteers wanting to help us any way that they can. Shows you the support that Sarasota county is doing. And last but not least, I want to thank you, the media, for being patient with us. That is tremendous. And I can't thank you more than anything.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) BALKWILL: At this time, we do have Susan who would like to say a few words. All we know is that it's pink. And if you find it, please call the hotline number, call us immediately.


BALKWILL: I am not aware of what might be in there. Maybe some school books and so forth might still be in there.

QUESTION: What's being done in terms of a physical search for Carlie right now?

BALKWILL: Every lead that we are getting, these investigators are following up. We're looking for leads for the whereabouts of this vehicle right now. If we can secure an area then, of course, we're going to start any searches that we need to. This is why you're not seeing them out and around. We're following those leads up as quickly as possible.


BALKWILL: I'm not going to talk again about the investigative things that we've actually found at this particular time. No, no change at all. And we are working diligently trying to get him to let us know where Carlie is. He's not saying anything that we're aware of at this time. You've got to remember, he has a public defender.


BALKWILL: At this time, yes.

QUESTION: Have you contacted any outside legal advice to advise you?

BALKWILL: Absolutely. The state attorney's office again is working very closely with us. They have their attorneys with our investigators working on everything that we can come up with, and helping us in any way.


BALKWILL: No, we have not.

QUESTION: Sheriff, do you know is there any kind of brand name on the backpack like Hello Kitty or Scooby or anything else that might further identify it?

SUSAN SCHORPEN, CARLIE'S MOTHER: I'm not sure. It was a gift, Christmas she got a lot of gifts. Just remember my daughter was a very popular girl. And anyone who has a teenage daughter knows, they all, constantly they're wearing each other's clothes. You know, the borrowing. I'm not really sure.

BALKWILL: We're in the process of purchasing a similar type backpack as a visual aid to help in that effort, OK? At this point, please hold on your questions and we'll turn it over to Carlie's mom. SCHORPEN: I want to thank you all for everything you've done, and I'd like to ask you, please, air her face and air that car on TV as often and as much as possible. I need my daughter home. She's a very, very important part of this family and community, and that car, if people can keep seeing it, and seeing it and seeing it, maybe we will get more leads. We need to have more leads. I need to have my daughter home. I just, I want to thank you.

I've had a lot of support from this community. I want to thank them. I want to thank all the people who have been sending us cards and flowers and prayers. You have no idea how much I appreciate how much strength this is giving me. But I really am urging you, please get my daughter's face on as often as you possibly can. The more you guys put it out there, the more information we're getting. And I really need your help. Please, help me bring my baby home. Carlie Brucia is a beautiful, intelligent girl. And she's got to come home. And I want to thank you again. OK.

BALKWILL: Thank you. We're going to ask again, and you've been very good about it, respect the privacy of the family. That's very important to us. And I appreciate the cooperation we've gotten. A couple other issues. Watch the rumors. The rumors have been running rampant the last couple days. If you need one verified, if it doesn't inhibit our investigation, we will certainly address the rumor itself.


WOODRUFF: We've been hearing a heartbreaking appeal from the mother of 11-year-old Carlie Brucia, the girl in Sarasota, Florida, who was abducted over the weekend in those videos we've been seeing. A suspect is in custody. He's 37-year-old Joseph Peter Smith. Officials have him, they have his car, a station wagon. But what they don't have is 11-year-old Carlie Brucia.

You heard the sheriff, Mr. Bill Balkwill, say they are looking for her pink backpack. They were trying to get more information to identify that. A note of desperation, it's fair to say, in the voice of sheriff urging anyone who has any information maybe looking for that backpack also people he's asking them to call in the sheriff's office if they saw a vehicle like the vehicle that you saw in those pictures just moments ago.

Again heartbreaking story coming from Florida. It has been since Sunday since Carlie Brucia was taken away apparently. And she has not been seen.


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