- The Washington Times - Friday, June 7, 2002

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) Police with tracking dogs, helicopters and hundreds of volunteers yesterday searched for Elizabeth Smart, a 14-year-old girl who authorities said was abducted at gunpoint from her bedroom on Wednesday.

Frustrated police said they had no good leads, and turned their focus toward following up on thousands of tips about her disappearance.

"A lot of things have not panned out," Police Chief Rick Dinse said yesterday. "We don't feel we're any closer [to solving the case]."

As for suspects: "Nobody's been eliminated," he said.

About 400 volunteers lined up to check in at a search command center at the Shriners Hospital for Children in the girl's wealthy Federal Heights neighborhood.

Organizers said so many people showed up that they ran out of forms for searchers to sign. Teams of volunteers headed out to comb the surrounding neighborhoods and the Wasatch Mountain foothills.

A $250,000 reward for Elizabeth's safe return was offered. The reward was initially $10,000, but donations from the community boosted the fund, Chief Dinse said.

Elizabeth's parents went on national TV networks yesterday to renew their plea for their daughter's return.

"This person, whoever he is, I don't think he knows what he's doing," Elizabeth's father, Edward, said on NBC's "Today" show. "She's just the sweetheart in our family, and we just want her back."

Police said they believed the intruder forced open a window somewhere in the house though not in the bedroom where the girl and her 9-year-old sister slept at about 1 a.m. Wednesday. The parents and other children also were home and sleeping. The family has six children.

The assailant was described as white with dark hair and wearing a tan, denim-type jacket and a white baseball cap. He is about 5 feet, 8 inches tall, the sister told police.

Police said he brandished a small, black handgun and told the younger girl her sister would be harmed if the alarm was raised. Elizabeth was wearing red pajamas, and the man let her take a pair of shoes, police said.


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