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Police: Smart's cousin might have been target

Authorities studying suspect's manifesto

Ed and Lois Smart look at a poster on Friday at a Salt Lake City celebration honoring Elizabeth's return. Elizabeth wrote a message on the poster and signed it.
Ed and Lois Smart look at a poster on Friday at a Salt Lake City celebration honoring Elizabeth's return. Elizabeth wrote a message on the poster and signed it.

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SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (CNN) -- The suspects in the disappearance of Elizabeth Smart also might have attempted to abduct her favorite cousin a month later, authorities said Friday.

"I believe that we have solid information and solid leads that could connect the two households and the perpetrators to the two households together," Salt Lake County Sheriff Aaron Kennard said.

He would not say whether authorities have physical or witness evidence, but he did say it came to light after the teenager was returned.

Authorities also are studying the manifesto that suspect Brian David Mitchell, 49, carried with him.

Mitchell, also known as "Emmanuel," and Wanda Ilene Barzee, believed to be his wife, are in custody and could face charges of aggravated kidnapping. Charges could be filed Friday.

The sheriff said that about 3 a.m. July 24, 2002, seven weeks after Elizabeth's disappearance, her 18-year-old cousin Jessica Wright heard noises like breaking wood or a tearing screen at her window. The would-be intruder fled as her parents called police and let their dog outside.

A cut-open window screen was also discovered at the home of Elizabeth Smart after her disappearance, police said.

The FBI and the Salt Lake City police also responded to the scene when the family connection to the Smart case became known. They found the Wright window screen cut and a chair under the window.

"Further investigation led to nothing that would tie the scene to the Elizabeth Smart disappearance," Kennard said.

The closest clue to a possible tie was the way window screens in both cases were cut. But there was no evidence of entry in the Wright case, which was classified as an attempted burglary.

The state crime lab helped process the scene, and that evidence is being re-evaluated.

Kennard said detectives, air-support units and dogs canvassed the neighborhood that night, but they found evidence only of a gang of youths vandalizing the neighborhood.

The evidence is being presented to the country district attorney and to the U.S. attorney. No decision on whether to amend charges from attempted burglary to attempted kidnapping was expected until Monday afternoon.

Investigators study nine-month gap

Led by the FBI, investigators are trying to piece together a timeline that began in the early morning of June 5, when Elizabeth disappeared, and ended Wednesday on a suburban street 15 miles from her home.

The teen spent months in the hills and canyons of the Wasatch Range behind the Smarts' fashionable Federal Heights neighborhood, traveled to San Diego, California, by bus, and returned to Salt Lake City just hours before two couples recognized Mitchell as the man police wanted to question in the Smart case.

Police in the Salt Lake City suburb of Sandy arrived on the scene, learning that they had found not only Mitchell but also the missing girl.

Wearing a wig, sunglasses and a makeshift veil, Elizabeth denied her identity when police asked who she was.

"She made those statements, 'You guys think I am Elizabeth Smart. I am not,' " Sandy Police Sgt. Victor Quezada said. "She kept denying who she was, right to the very end."

Quezada said he and his fellow officers decided to "give it one more shot" as they put Mitchell, Barzee and Elizabeth into police cars, asking again if the girl was Elizabeth Smart.

The teenager dodged the question.

"She uttered the words 'Thou sayest,' " Quezada said, "and I had never heard that phrase before."

Nevertheless, Quezada said, "we took that as a yes."

Teen seen in several spots

Police said Elizabeth was snatched from her home at knifepoint June 5, an abduction witnessed only by her younger sister, Mary Katherine. She told authorities that a man who seemed familiar took Elizabeth.

Salt Lake City Police Chief Rick Dinse said Mitchell cut through a window screen at the Smart home.

Mitchell then led Elizabeth across her back yard and into the foothills and canyons behind the neighborhood, where they camped through August, Dinse said.

Elizabeth's uncle, Tom Smart, said his niece said she heard the voice of another uncle, David Smart, calling for her during searches.

Police said they have discovered what they believe is the camp site in those mountains and have roped it off as a crime scene.

Dinse said Elizabeth was brought into Salt Lake City in August "and was seen by several different individuals at a number of locations."

One man said he saw Mitchell and two other women, whom he identified as Elizabeth and Barzee, in August at a party in a Salt Lake City apartment.

He said Elizabeth was taller than Mitchell and Barzee and that the two women were veiled. He said the women entered the party holding hands and following Mitchell, who said he was the messiah.

"He straight came out and said he was Jesus, and it kinda irritated some people at the party, and that's kinda how I got involved with talking with him, because he was going to get beat up by people for claiming that he was Jesus Christ," the man said.

The man said he tried to talk to the women, but they would not speak. Mitchell said it was against his religion for women to talk, the man recalled.

The man said Elizabeth did not seem to be under duress and looked comfortable.

-- CNN correspondents Jeanne Meserve and Jen Rogers contributed to this report.


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