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Missing girl's father: 'It just seemed unreal'

Lois and Ed Smart, parents of Elizabeth Smart, a 14-year-old abducted Utah girl
Lois and Ed Smart, parents of Elizabeth Smart, a 14-year-old abducted Utah girl  

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(CNN) -- A three-state search is under way for Elizabeth Smart, a 14-year-old girl who police said was abducted Wednesday from her Utah home while her parents slept. Her younger sister witnessed the kidnapping, police said.

Ed and Lois Smart, the girls' parents, spoke of their anguish Thursday with CNN anchor Paula Zahn.

ZAHN: Joining us now from Salt Lake City are Elizabeth's parents, Ed and Lois Smart. Thank you very much for being with us. We are very sorry about what has happened to your family. And I know this is going to be difficult, but I also know you think this is very important to try to get as much information out there about Elizabeth.

Missing Utah girl's father pleads for her safe return 

Your 9-year-old daughter, Mary Elizabeth, was sharing a bed with her sister, Elizabeth, when she was kidnapped. What have you been able to piece together so far?

ED SMART: You know, we just can't even fathom who it is or why they took her. I mean, she was just -- I mean, to me she was as near perfect as a daughter could be. She plays the harp. She -- you know, she loves everyone. I just -- I don't know of any enemies that she has or any people that would want to harm her.

I just -- you know, last night as this happened -- or the night before last, I -- you know, when my daughter initially came in, all I heard was, you know, a man took her. And I rushed in there, and I thought, you know, she is just having a bad dream. And she -- we have six children, and I went from room to room, because occasionally one of the kids will sleep with the other. And you know, and I couldn't find her, and I just -- I heard then at that point that, you know, it was at gunpoint, and it just -- you know, it just seemed unreal. I mean, it just -- I still can't believe that it has happened. I just -- I mean, you hear about these, and you can't imagine what kind of a nightmare it is for the parents, and we just can't -- we can't believe that it has really happened.

ZAHN: Oh, Mr. Smart, I -- it's hard for us to imagine what your family is going through at this hour, but we want to put up a picture of Elizabeth right now because I know these ...


ZAHN: ... days following a kidnapping or a disappearance are critical. She is 5 feet tall -- 5 feet 6 inches tall, 105 pounds, blond hair, last seen wearing red pajamas. Is it clear to you how this intruder got into your home?

SMART: It's not clear. I mean, there was a screen that was torn in our kitchen. You know, it's unclear. It's really unclear. There is this one screen that was torn, but it was a smaller window. Somebody could squeeze through it, but it's a little bit elevated off the ground, and it's unclear. I don't think that they know conclusively where the point of entry is, at least not that we know of.

ZAHN: Does your home have a security system?

SMART: You know, we do have a security system with -- you know, with six children, we -- you know, we don't turn it on at night. You know, the kids are in and out of the bedrooms. It is set up with motion sensors, but we -- you know, we don't use it that much. We -- most of the doors will beep if someone is going in and out. [Wednesday], we learned that two of them weren't functioning, and my bedroom is, you know, right next to kind of a central hallway, a central room that everyone has to go through, and I just can't -- I can't imagine how I didn't hear it. I just can't -- I can't imagine.

ZAHN: I know the police are looking at every possible angle right now, and there is a report in the Deseret News that back in 1992 that there was actually a plot that was foiled to kidnap one of your neighbors' children for $3 million in ransom. Are police telling you that they believe that your case might be connected to this old case?

SMART: You know, I doubt very much that it's connected. I guess there is a possibility, but I -- you know, I doubt it. I don't know. I have no idea. Fortunately, they did know prior to the attempt on the child, so the child was never at risk. And I mean, they are tremendous neighbors, and we have just had such an outpouring of love and help. And we just hope that through this, you know, we'll be able to get her back, and we are hoping that we will get her back today.

ZAHN: We actually have some poignant pictures of your neighbors handing out posters and leaving numbers that folks could call if they see anybody looking like your daughter Elizabeth.

We also know that authorities have talked to people at Elizabeth's school, and that they have examined one of your home computers. Can you tell us exactly what authorities are searching for at the moment?

SMART: You know, I -- Elizabeth never used the computer. She -- you know, she would type papers on the computer, but she -- you know, she never used the Internet. You know, I don't know exactly. They are looking for anything that could potentially lead them to a suspect. And I -- you know, I just don't know right now. They are just looking for anything unusual. You know, I don't know.

ZAHN: Final question for you. I know investigators mentioned that your home had been on the market and that a number of people have looked at it as prospective buyers. Are police concerned that this intruder might have been a person who had gone through your home before?

SMART: You know, we had two, maybe three people come to our home. And I am certain that none of them had absolutely anything to do with this. I -- you know, in my heart, I am absolutely sure that none of the people that came through the house had anything to do with this.

ZAHN: Well, our heart goes out to you, Lois and Ed. ... We just hope that the thousands of eyes and ears that have assisted you so far will continue to do so in the search for Elizabeth.

SMART: And we are very grateful to you and for everyone that's helping.




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