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THE NATION

No Threat in Missing Girl Case

June 19, 2002|From Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY — Police investigating the disappearance of 14-year-old Elizabeth Smart said Tuesday that, contrary to what they reported earlier, the kidnapper did not threaten the girl's little sister or even realize she saw him.

Two weeks ago, Elizabeth was reportedly taken by gunpoint from the bed shared by the two girls. Police said initially that the kidnapper warned 9-year-old Mary Katherine Smart to remain quiet and that the little sister waited two hours before alerting her parents.

But police who interviewed the youngster three times now say that the man did not speak to the child.

"The threat was not made to Mary Katherine," Capt. Scott Atkinson said.

He said the police account changed as investigators with skills at interviewing child witnesses talked to the girl. Police also reviewed the 9-year-old witness' earlier two interviews with police, Atkinson said. "I don't believe that she's changed her story," he said.

As for the search for the kidnapper, "we believe this man may be a trusted person in the neighborhood or community," the police captain said. The kidnapper was calm and "spoke nicely and dressed nicely."

Investigators still want to talk to Bret Michael Edmunds, a drifter who continues to elude them. Edmunds was spotted near the Smart home two days before Elizabeth's disappearance.

The community is offering a $250,000 reward for the girl's safe return.

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