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Sister saw suspect on way to parents' room

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (CNN) -- The sister of missing 14-year-old Elizabeth Smart tried to reach her parents right after the abduction, but turned back when she saw the kidnapper again, police said.

Police said Smart's 9-year-old sister, Mary Catherine, witnessed the older girl's abduction at gunpoint from her family's Federal Heights home early in the morning of June 5.

They revealed Tuesday that the initial report that the younger girl delayed reporting the abduction to her parents because the suspect had threatened her was inaccurate.

"The reason she waited is that she originally heard the threat [to harm] her sister," Salt Lake City Police Chief Rick Dinse said.

"When they left, she got up to go tell her parents and she saw the suspect again. Not knowing how long they would be in the house, she went back to bed in fear and it turned out to be a lengthy time."

Dinse said the original statement had been based on "printouts from dispatchers and not on investigators' discussions" and that "it wasn't a big issue for us."

CNN's Michael Okwu reports Salt Lake City police believe Elizabeth Smart's abductor may be someone familiar with the family (June 18)

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Images of Elizabeth Smart 
Missing children facts 
 Suspect description
  • White male
  • 30 to 40 years old
  • 5 feet 8 inches tall to 5 feet 10
  • Medium build
  • Dark hair
  • Dark hair on arms and backs of hands

    Source: Salt Lake City police

  • Elizabeth Smart
    Web site:

    Tip lines: 800-932-0190 or

    Clues to the disappearance two weeks ago of Smart have "grown in the last week," according to Dinse.

    "We think we are in the right place doing the right thing ... concentrating on the central area around the house and the people associated with that house," Dinse said without further details.

    The chief said police had interviewed Mary Catherine four times, and the little girl "hasn't wavered one bit from her original statement to us." But Dinse made it clear that police are withholding information.

    "We are not telling you everything," he said. "We probably aren't going to until we are further along and have identified some people."

    "[Mary Catherine] saw the individual, but how good a look she got at his face we are not clarifying," Dinse said.

    "She heard the voice and whether she recognizes it or not I'm not going to clarify. We are not putting out a composite [drawing] and we are not clarifying why we are not putting out a composite."

    Asked why police were keeping so much information close to their chests, Dinse said it is only "for reason of the investigation."

    Tuesday, police released a more detailed description of the suspect, which Dinse said resulted from the interview with Mary Catherine.

    Capt. Scott Atkinson described the suspect as a white male, 30 to 40 years old, 5 feet 8 inches to 5 feet 10, with a medium build and dark hair. He had dark hair on his arms and the back of his hands, Atkinson said.

    In addition, he was wearing a polo-brand shirt, tan pants, a tan cap, dark shoes and a light-colored jacket. He was carrying a small handgun, and was calm but concerned that the victim not make any noise that would awaken her family, he said.

    "We believe that this person may be a trusted person in the neighborhood or in the community. [It] might be someone ... that had reason to be here, that had reason to come across the family, all those kind of things we still believe," Atkinson said.

    Dinse said Wednesday that police still wanted to question Bret Michael Edmunds, a 26-year-old drifter who was reportedly seen in the area days before the abduction. Police say Edmunds is not a suspect, however.

    Law enforcement officials told CNN Tuesday a surveillance tape from Shriners Hospital, not far from the Smart's neighborhood, has been sent to an FBI lab in Quantico, Virginia, for enhancement.

    A surveillance camera in the parking lot of the hospital can pick up some activity on Virginia Avenue, which is the main road in and out of Federal Heights.

    Fred Trujillo, the security director at the hospital, told CNN he saw a car being driven in a suspicious way and trained a camera on it for several minutes.

    A second car arrived and there appeared to be some interaction for a few moments before both cars drove away, Trujillo said. Police said the tape is of poor quality because of low light conditions.




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