Couples recognized suspect from TV reports
Witnesses called police less than a minute apart
SANDY, Utah (CNN) -- Rudy and Nancy Montoya were at a Kinko's copying a resume. Anita and Alvin Dickerson were close to Kinko's, driving down State Street, a main road in Sandy, Utah, a Salt Lake City suburb.
They all realized the same thing within a minute of each other: An oddly dressed man walking with two women looked like "Emmanuel," someone they'd seen featured on TV reports in connection with Elizabeth Smart's disappearance.
The Montoyas phoned police first. Sixty seconds later, the Dickersons called.
"We were going north on State Street," Anita Dickerson said Wednesday, during a news conference. "And we saw three people walking off on the side of the road.
"I made a remark to my husband because of the way they were dressed -- you know with the flowers in the hair. And my husband said, 'Well, that may be the person they're looking for in the Elizabeth Smart case.'
"And when he said that, I leaned over and actually looked at the man in the face and I said, 'I believe that it is him.'"
She said she asked her husband to stop the car and pull over. She then got out and walked toward the trunk, pretending she needed to get something out of it.
"As they were walking up the sidewalk, I looked him in the face and he looked at me -- I turned around and went back to my husband and said, 'That's him. Let me have your cell phone.'"
Both couples may be eligible to receive or split a $250,000 reward for making the call that resulted in Elizabeth being found. Elizabeth was found Wednesday after she was missing for nine months, believed by police and her parents to have been abducted from her Salt Lake City home.
The couples also could get an additional $25,000 reward the Salt Lake City Police Department and FBI posted for information leading to an arrest.
"I did not think about the reward," Anita Dickerson said. "I'm a mother with seven children -- and when I saw that, I just knew I had seen him on TV and so I wanted to report it."
Ruth Montoya also did not say whether she intended to claim the reward money.
"I'm not concerned about that," she said. "I'm just happy she's there with her parents. I thought it looked like him a lot. And I thought the police could go and talk with him for sure."
Neither couple recognized the now 15-year-old Elizabeth because she was wearing a veil that covered much of her face, a pair of sunglasses and a wig, Anita Dickerson thought the teen was an older woman. Both Nancy Montoya and Anita Dickerson honed in on "Emmanuel," whose real name is Brian David Mitchell, a self-appointed prophet for the homeless.
"Lots of people had to see them, they just didn't put two and two together," Alvin Dickerson said. His wife added it was Mitchell's photograph from TV reports that helped her recognize him, "not the composite."
The Dickersons said they waited for police to arrive, which didn't take long, then went on their way to finish errands. They said they were "elated" when the Sandy Police Department called them at home later and told them what had happened.
"I just -- it sort of went beyond me," Anita Dickerson said, as she made a motion over her head with one hand. "I had to think about what he said and I was just so elated -- I was so surprised, but happy."
She said she does believe in miracles, but she doesn't feel like she did anything phenomenal.
"I'm just glad we did make the call so she can be reunited with her family."