- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 7, 2007

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — Police yesterday found a body they think is that of a teenager who disappeared four days earlier when she was apparently abducted from a department-store parking lot.

Police Chief John Douglass said the body was found across the state line at a Grandview, Mo., lake. Positive identification was pending, but authorities thought it was 18-year-old Kelsey Smith. Chief Douglass

Officers had been searching woods at the lake since Tuesday after investigators traced two signals from Miss Smith’s cell phone to an area about 15 miles east of the Target store in suburban Kansas City.

Before a church memorial service last night, Miss Smith’s father thanked everyone involved in the search.

“She could walk into a room full of strangers and walk out with a room full of friends,” Greg Smith said, fighting tears.

“Her excitement and passion for life was unmatched,” he said. “She lived more in 18 years than many people do with a great deal more time.”

Police had questioned “numerous people” but had not identified a suspect, Chief Douglass said.

Authorities were still seeking information about a young man videotaped entering and leaving the Target store within moments of Miss Smith. Chief Douglass said police still considered the unidentified man a “person of interest” and not a suspect.

Asked whether people should be concerned that the perpetrator could still be at large, Chief Douglass said: “I think we all need to remain vigilant no matter what. I don’t want to overemphasize the importance of this, but we always need to use caution.”

Officers also continued to look for information about a dark pickup that was seen entering the Target parking lot shortly after Miss Smith’s car. Just before 7 p.m. Saturday, the pickup pulled into the parking-lot aisle where Miss Smith had parked about one minute earlier, police said. A man is seen leaving the pickup and going into the Target store Miss Smith had entered.

On Tuesday, police released video showing a woman they think is Miss Smith being forced into her car. The tape was being enhanced at a forensics lab.

Miss Smith, who graduated from high school less than two weeks ago, left the store about 7:10 p.m. and put packages into her car when someone ran toward her, police said.

“You see two individuals come together, and there is no separation of those two individuals,” Chief Douglass said Tuesday. “So it is easy to conclude there was some kind of incident at the back of the car. Then the car leaves.”

Investigators said they don’t know whether Miss Smith was picked at random or abducted by someone she knew. About two hours after she disappeared, her grandparents found her car in a parking lot at a mall in suburban Kansas City with her purse and packages still inside.

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