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Command Center Shut, Groups Asked to Search for Missing Girl

June 16, 2002|From Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY — Volunteers closed a makeshift command center Saturday and appealed to neighborhood groups to search for a 14-year-old Utah girl apparently abducted from her bedroom at gunpoint 11 days ago.

Elizabeth Smart's family said a decentralized search would make it more efficient for groups to cover their own ground without first having to go to a central command.

The command center at a Mormon meeting house was dismantled, and a park used as a helicopter pad is now again a soccer field.

Police had no new leads in the June 5 disappearance and called off regular daily news briefings. Sgt. Fred Louis said police will brief media only when developments occur.

The focus returned to Utah after a police chase in Texas and New Mexico turned up the wrong man Friday, not the one wanted as a possible witness to the kidnapping.

The man Texas authorities arrested Friday as a suspect in a string of car thefts was not Bret Michael Edmunds, whom Utah authorities want for questioning.

Authorities have said Edmunds, 26, is not a suspect in the Smart case. The girl's 9-year-old sister, Mary Katherine, described the kidnapper as 5 feet, 8 inches. Edmunds is 6 feet, 2 inches.

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