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Police Give Update on Carlie Brucia Case

Aired February 6, 2004 - 08:11   ET


BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: Back to Sarasota. The sheriff is back at the microphone. An hour ago, they were tearful, rather emotional. More news now.


Throughout this investigation, you have heard me say about teamwork with the FBI, the FDLE, the U.S. Marshal's Office, all of the local law enforcement agencies, our fine men and women of the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office. Behind me, you see part of this team. This team has come together. They have worked hard. They have worked through the night. They've worked for 24 hours around the clock.

At this time, I'd like to introduce two very special people to me, who have helped out in this investigation throughout this period. From the FBI, I'd like to introduce Agent Carl Whitehead (ph), and from the FDLE, E.J. Piccola (ph).

At this time, Agent Whitehead (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, Sheriff.

On behalf of FBI Director Robert Mueller and the local Tampa FBI office, I would like to extend my condolences and our condolences to Carlie's family. We had hoped that we could have brought her safely back home. But unfortunately, the circumstances did not allow that to be.

I am especially proud of the agents that worked hand in hand with the detectives around the clock to locate Carlie. We will continue this effort to process the evidence to ensure that Mr. Smith is successfully prosecuted for this horrendous crime.

Thank you.


On behalf of Governor Jeb Bush, of Commissioner Gottinel (ph) and all of the members of the FDLE, we would also like to express our sympathies to Carlie's family, her friends and the Sarasota community.

As with the FBI, the FDLE pledges our continued support to the Sarasota County Sheriff's office with any and all of our resources, as we move into this new phase of the investigation. Also, I'd like to thank the citizens of Florida and people from around the country who responded to this Amber Alert and to Amber Alerts across the country. They are so important to us in law enforcement as we move into missing and endangered children investigations.

Thank you.

BALKWILL: Once, again, you can see what teamwork can bring.

I also would like to thank Probation and Parole of the state of Florida also, and again reiterate the U.S. Marshal's Office, who is part of the investigation at this time.

At this time, we're not going to entertain any additional questions. I'll have Colonel Lewis (ph) do a little bit of wrap-up. We'll give you another time when we can bring you further information on this investigation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For the near future, the tips lines and the 800 line will remain open. How long that remains open will be dictated by call volume. So, we will announce that.

The moment we get a notification from our people at the crime scene that it's appropriate, we will also notify you. I will walk, or Chuck will walk over here and notify you.

On behalf of this staff here, the respect that you all have shown this morning allowing us to work the forensics, work the crime scene and not let it be overcome and contaminated, every person behind me has commented about the professionalism you all have shown. And for that, I appreciate it. I also appreciate -- we also appreciate you giving us a little bit of space during this particular difficult time.

Again, as the sheriff said, we won't be taking any questions right now. Recognize the dynamics of what's going on, but we will be back here at 11:00, or before if we get the all-clear or the appropriate time from our forensics people.

Thank you again for your professionalism. You've been very good.

HEMMER: Sad and tragic news out of Florida. This news breaking about an hour and a half ago. And, again, the second briefing we have heard in the past hour. Let's continue to listen in, in Sarasota quickly.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I thank all the people behind me and all the people that were behind them in their efforts to find my daughter and the community that was so involved and for the part that you people in the media played. I just want to thank everybody for all they've done. That's it.

HEMMER: That's the father of Carlie Brucia. He is separated from her mother, divorced and living in the New York area, has been down there earlier in the week to help in that search. But the sad and tragic news, again this morning, confirmed about 90 minutes ago, the 11-year-old body of Carlie Brucia has been found behind a church in the Sarasota area, near Interstate 75.

Joseph Peter Smith, age 37, charged with the kidnapping and death of 11-year-old Carlie Brucia. The FBI agent there on the scene moments ago saying that he will be prosecuted to the fullest extent.

Again, her body found early Friday behind a church in the Sarasota area.

Marc Klaas is the founder of the Klaas Kids Foundation. His daughter, Polly, abducted and killed back in 1993. He's live this morning in San Francisco.

What do you say to the family at this point? How in the world are you able to relate, you more than many people watching this program? What are they going through? What are they experiencing, Marc?

MARC KLAAS, KLAAS KIDS FOUNDATION: Well, you know, they've been afraid for the last week, Bill, every since she disappeared. Probably the overriding emotion that has been carrying them has been fear. And now that they've heard the news, they are going to have to process it.

When they told me that Polly was dead, after pinning so much hope on it for so long, intellectually I understood what they were telling me, but be emotionally it took several hours for it all to sink in. And then it just sort of hit me all at once that everything that I had been working towards had been cast asunder and that my daughter was dead. I imagine it's very much the same.

That was very kind of stoic of her father just now to do this, but my guess is that within about two or three hours, the guy is going to be a total emotional mess.

These are the kinds of events that tear families apart in great numbers, and it's going to be incumbent upon them to depend upon each other in their personal circle to get through this very emotional time and hopefully come out at the end of it as some kind of a unit, a damaged unit no doubt, but a unit nonetheless.

HEMMER: You mentioned the father. Some videotape from earlier, supporters arriving at Carlie's mother's home there in the Sarasota area that we can show our viewers now. What type of support network is there for this family, Marc?

KLAAS: Well, I'm not sure exactly how victim assistance works down in the state of Florida, but many states offer various things like psychological counseling, some kind of an advocate to assist one through the trial process. And I certainly encourage people to take advantage of all that is offered, because it is so terribly difficult. And it's difficult for one family member to meet the emotional needs of another family member, when their needs are so great anyway.

So, you know, you take advantage of everything that's offered to you, and hope that you can come out at the end.

This ruins people's lives. A lot of people will go into denial over something like this and try to pretend that it doesn't happen and have some kind of a cataclysmic event later on in their lives. Other people just never are able to get out of bed again. They'll either find themselves in a depression, involved in drugs or involved in alcohol, and never are able to get their lives back on track again.

So, you take advantage of everything that you can and hope some of it holds and helps you move forward with your life, so that you can continue to be a productive citizen.

HEMMER: You know, Marc, one thing that really struck us an hour ago when the sheriff came out to the microphone -- we've seen him every day this week -- he was clearly unset and moved by the tragedy.

KLAAS: Of course.

HEMMER: When it moves to prosecuting this case, knowing this man has not cooperated, at least we know of anyway, not answering questions, where do you go in the prosecution at this point?

KLAAS: Well, you know what? One hopes that they didn't make a deal with him and that he traded the death penalty for her location. I'm not sure that we know the answer to that yet. But the sad reality is, is that this is no longer about Carlie. This now becomes about Joseph Smith.

And again, to go back to my perspective, the family perspective, they're going to have to sit in a courtroom for months at a time probably, listening to the justifications and excuses for doing what he did. Unfortunately, we have a criminal justice system that cycles guys like him in a turnstile system of justice, so that they end up living their life sentence on the installment plan.

And what happens is their crimes escalate and get worse and worse and worse until something like this occurs, and we find that we have sacrificed the rights of a beautiful young girl for the rights of some heinous monster who we've given second, third, fourth and fifth chances to.

Let's just hope at the end of the day this guy gets tied into Old Sparky, and that punk malfunctions as he goes down and his head explodes. I mean, I hate to be really blunt about it, but that's kind of how I feel right now.

HEMMER: Marc thanks for sharing. Marc Klaas in San Francisco.

Again, 37-year-old Joseph Smith behind bars, charged in the killing of 11-year-old Carlie Brucia. Her body found earlier on Friday in the Sarasota area. A sad and tragic end. More from Florida when we get it this morning.


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