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Search for 2 Missing Boys Continues; Officials Baffled

October 29, 1994|From Associated Press

UNION, S.C. — About 80 law officers and volunteers probed with sticks and trudged through woods dense with kudzu Friday, searching for any trace of two little boys said by their mother to have been snatched by a carjacker.

As that fruitless search was ending, another began: Tracking dogs, helicopters and deputies in bulletproof vests swarmed over another wooded area after a child reported seeing a man matching the suspect's description.

Once again, in a case that has baffled authorities and residents of this rural town, nothing came of it.

"The breaks have not been coming like we thought they would. It's unbelievable," Sheriff Howard Wells said of the investigation into the disappearance of 3-year-old Michael Smith and 14-month-old Alex Smith.

On Tuesday, their mother, Susan Smith, 23, said a man with a gun forced his way into her car at a traffic light and then after a few miles forced her out in an isolated area, driving away with her sons still in their safety seats.

Through a family spokeswoman, she and the boys' father, David Smith, appealed again Friday for the return of the children and thanked the searchers.

Addressing the missing boys, the spokeswoman, Margaret Gregory, added: "We miss you, we love you, and we want you home."

Susan Smith filed for divorce last month, though the sheriff said he did not consider that a factor in the case.

Sheriff's investigators questioned David Smith on Friday. Asked why, Wells replied: "We are looking for a possible motive for a crime of this type. At present we haven't had a ransom demand, we have not had a motive where someone would be mad at the family."

While pursuing the case as a carjacking and abduction, he said: "We are not ruling out anything."

Earlier Friday, four teams of searchers were assembled at the thickly wooded spot where Susan Smith said she last saw her sons, a road about 10 miles outside Union. She had run to a house nearby to report being forced from the car.

The teams fanned out over the four square miles near a lake that had already been searched by divers for Susan Smith's car, a burgundy 1990 Mazda Protege.

Hiking up a slope with his breath frosting the air after overnight temperatures in the 30s, volunteer John Phillips voiced everyone's hope that the boys were somewhere else and safe. "I hope we don't find anything," he said.

What they did find was very little. A state agent said an article of children's clothing that was picked up was the wrong size.

Searchers were scrambled yet again after a 12-year-old girl called the sheriff's office to report that she had just seen a man matching the suspect's description emerging from woods behind a shopping mall on the opposite side of town.

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