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Man Ruled Out as Suspect in Utah Kidnap

June 09, 2002|From Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY — Police searching for the 14-year-old girl reportedly kidnapped at gunpoint said Saturday that they have questioned and released a man they had been seeking earlier in the day, ruling him out as a suspect.

Police on Saturday morning distributed a sketch of the man who they said had contact with Elizabeth Ann Smart before she was abducted from her bedroom four days ago.

"We were hoping it would be something we could hang our hats on. But that's OK. We'll move on," Salt Lake City police detective Dwayne Baird said. Police said the man had no known criminal record.

It was another dead-end for the investigation.

"Everyone is still a suspect," Salt Lake City police Capt. Scott Atkinson said, though he added the family is not the focus of the investigation.

While about 100 detectives follow up on potential leads, 18 volunteer pilots in small aircraft and helicopters took to the air Saturday to scour nearby mountains and the Salt Lake Valley at the request of Elizabeth's family.

"We believe that Elizabeth is alive. We feel in our hearts that we know she is alive. That is a very strong thing," said Tom Smart, Elizabeth's uncle. "She's somewhere. Check your basements. Check your houses."

Thousands of volunteers have been searching the city and nearby foothills for any trace of Elizabeth or her abductor.

Elizabeth was taken from her home between 1 a.m. and 2 a.m. Wednesday. She was wearing short red satin pajamas. Police said the kidnapper allowed her to put on white canvas tennis shoes before she was taken away from her wealthy neighborhood.

Initially promising tips haven't panned out.

Police said an intruder forced open a window at the Smarts' home and woke the teenager and her 9-year-old sister.

The younger girl has not been able to clearly describe the man, telling police only that the kidnapper carried a small black gun and was about 5 feet, 8 inches, white, with dark hair, and was dressed in a tan denim-type jacket and white baseball cap.

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