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Housemate tips police to Smith after seeing video

Carlie Brucia, 11, was last seen Sunday.
Carlie Brucia, 11, was last seen Sunday.

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Sheriff Bill Balkwill updates the press on the missing Florida girl case.
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Video camera catches abduction of Carlie Brucia.
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SARASOTA, Florida (CNN) -- The video of a man who approached 11-year-old Carlie Brucia in a carwash parking lot led to the arrest of Joseph Smith, according to a woman who lives with him.

The woman spoke to CNN from inside the home but would not give her name or show her face on camera.

She told CNN she recognized Smith in the videotape broadcast on television and then called authorities.

The woman and another man live with Smith in Sarasota's Kensington Park neighborhood.

Smith, 37, who has a lengthy criminal record, was arrested at his home Tuesday on drug charges unrelated to the disappearance. Authorities said they took him in after receiving tips, but they did not say who the tips came from.

The girl has not been found, and authorities said Smith is not cooperating with the investigation.

Susan Schorpen, the girl's mother, pleaded for more information from the public Thursday.

"Please help me bring my baby home," Schorpen told a news conference. "Carlie Brucia is a beautiful intelligent girl and she's got to come home."

Sarasota County Sheriff Bill Balkwill told reporters there have been more than 750 leads in the case and each is being investigated.

He also asked the public to look for Carlie's backpack in parking lots, empty fields and along roads in the Sarasota area. Carlie's mom said the backpack was a Christmas gift.

Investigators impounded a 1992 Buick station wagon on Wednesday. Balkwill told reporters investigators are "certain" the vehicle "was used in the abduction."

He urged those in the area to try to remember whether they had seen the station wagon between Sunday afternoon and Tuesday. Investigators still need to know where Smith traveled after Carlie disappeared.

The girl's disappearance has received national media attention since it was recorded by a security camera behind the carwash.

In the videotape, recorded just after 6:20 p.m. Sunday, a white man in some kind of a work uniform is seen approaching Carlie. He briefly speaks to her as she hesitates, then takes her by the forearm and leads her away.

The man in the video has tattoos on his forearms, as does Smith. He also works as a mechanic.

NASA experts and those at the FBI's lab in Washington worked to enhance the videotape to get a clearer image of the man's face, tattoos, and the apparent name tag on his shirt.

The images have been enhanced and are in Sarasota. Balkwill said the images will be released to the public soon.

Authorities searched Smith's home Wednesday, as well as a field with tall grass behind it, and found nothing immediately linking Smith to the girl's disappearance, a law enforcement source involved in the investigation told CNN.

Forensic examinations will be conducted on certain items taken in the search, the source said.

Carlie Brucia's mother says to reporters
Carlie Brucia's mother says to reporters "Please help me bring my baby home."

No bond is being offered Smith on the charges of possessing cocaine and drug paraphernalia and violating probation from a previous drug conviction.

"We will not be letting him out of our custody whatsoever," Balkwill said. "He is not answering any of our questions that we've asked. We have made it clear to Joseph and his counsel that we want to know where Carlie is."

The public defender's office said Smith's two attorneys had no comment on the case.

Smith's criminal record in the area dates to 1993, when he was convicted of aggravated battery and sentenced to probation.

In November 1997, Smith was arrested on a charge of kidnapping and false imprisonment in neighboring Manatee County. He was acquitted of those charges a year later.

According to records from the Manatee County Sheriff's Department, a woman said Smith grabbed her as she was walking along a street and threatened to "cut her if she failed to remain quiet."

A passing vehicle stopped and intervened, allowing her to flee, the record said.

The records also said Smith told authorities "he had been in an altercation earlier" that evening "and wanted somebody to walk with."

A few months before the incident in Manatee, Smith was convicted of carrying a concealed weapon -- a knife, according to his arrest record from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

Authorities named Joseph P. Smith. 37, as a suspect in Carlie Brucia's disappearance.
Authorities named Joseph P. Smith. 37, as a suspect in Carlie Brucia's disappearance.

Smith has faced numerous drug charges, and in 2001 was convicted of heroin possession, possession of controlled substances, and attempting to obtain controlled substances by fraudulent means. He served a little more than a year in prison. He was on probation when he was arrested Tuesday.

The woman who lives with him said she has known Smith and his ex-wife, whom he divorced in 1996, as well as their three children for many years. She would not say how long he has been living with her.

"He never knew the dark side of anybody," she said.

Smith's neighbor, Ron Thompson, said he was shocked to hear of his arrest.

"[He] has three beautiful little girls," Thompson said. "And he just adored them. And he played with them. And he took good care of them. It's just a different picture than what we see today."

CNN's John Zarrella, Susan Candiotti, Rich Philips and Patrick Oppmann contributed to this report.


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