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Two Kidnapped California Girls Found Safe

Aired August 1, 2002 - 16:15   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: We have a development, an important development in a story we have been following all day. Those two kidnapped teenage girls in California. Our affiliate, KTTV TV says the suspect in this particular case has been shot by local law enforcement authorities.

Both girls have been rescued. They are fine. Jacqueline Marris, 17 years old, Tamara Brooks, 16 years old. As our viewers who have been watching this story unfold throughout the day know, both of these girls were in so-called lover's lane in a popular area with some boyfriends in Los Angeles County, where an individual, a suspect came up to the cars, the respective cars, tied up the boys separately and kidnapped the two girls. Police say the suspect was described as 30 to 40 years old, medium build, dark complexion. He has been wanted for sometime, since approximately 2:00 a.m. last night, overnight, early this morning, Thursday.

The story has of course generated enormous concern, not only in the Los Angeles area, but around the country. Both girls, now reported to be alive, rescued, the suspect shot, our affiliates now reporting from the area. We're standing by for a news conference to provide more information on this developing story. Casey Wian our reporter is on the scene, apparently some more information. Casey, what are you hearing from where you are?

CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, we are hearing the exact same thing that you're hearing from family members and friends here. We have no official word from the sheriff's department or any law enforcement officials. But the word has gone through here like wildfire, over the last few minutes that both girls are reportedly have been found alive. The suspect has been shot, apparently by law enforcement officials. We do not know what his condition is at this point. Joining me now is Joanna Peres, who is a friend of one of the victims. Tell me what you have heard, Joanna.

JOANNEA PERES, VICTIMS' FRIEND: Well, I just heard from everybody else that the girls, they found the girls, somewhere in Ridge Crest. I'm not even sure where, Kern County area and that they're fine. The guy, the suspect is down, shot.

WIAN: When you heard that reaction, when you heard that news, what was your reaction?

PERES: I cried for joy. I'm so happy. I'm so happy for my daughter because it's her best friend and it's been a traumatic experience for both girls.

WIAN: Which are the girls did your daughter know?

PERES: Tamara, Tamara Brooks. But I'm just thankful that both the girls are doing fine. We just needed to hear word, confirm the word.

WIAN: All right, thank you very much.

PERES: Thank you.

WIAN: We are anxiously awaiting a news conference, which we're anticipating from the sheriff's department any time now for official confirmation of this. But so far, from everything we can tell, Wolf, that it appears to be for these two kidnapping suspects, all indications are that it appears this story had a happy ending. Wolf.

BLITZER: Casey, the relatives of some of these two girls - well, we'll get back it Casey. Gray Davis is speaking, the governor of California on this subject. Let's go to him live.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

GOVERNOR GRAY DAVIS, CALIFORNIA: That report is true. The report indicates that two teenagers were unharmed. That is great news. I'm very happy for them and their families. And we will be thrilled to know that this terrible incident had a happy ending. If that is not true, we stand ready to provide all the resources necessary to assist the sheriff's department, be it from department of highway patrol, additional assets from the Department of Justice, anything we can do to be of assistance, we are going to do. Given the fact that things are moving quickly here, sheriff (UNINTELLIGIBLE), you might just comment, offer any comments you might want to make and then Commissioner Helmuck (ph) and then we'll take some questions.

QUESTION: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

DAVIS: Well I hope that if that is in fact the case I'm delighted Sheriff and I can't thank you and the highway patrol, the FBI, and all the other law enforcement agencies involved in this rapid resolution of this crime. And if the two children are safe and sound, that is the best news we have to thank God and I'm sure their families are absolutely elated. I'm clearly thrilled to hear that. When, do you know sheriff, when that will be confirmed or are you confirming that by virtue of this phone call or what?

QUESTION: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

DAVIS: That is great news, sheriff. I can't tell you how thrilled I am to hear that. Commissioner, do you have any thoughts you want to share with us again? I realize things are moving pretty rapidly here, but I very much appreciate, I know you were contacted early this morning to have a number of the CHP cars on the look out for the White Bronco and you've been in touch with Sheriff Stonage (ph) several times. I talked to him as I indicated this morning. You arranged that for me. Is there any other information you would like to share with us at this time, commissioner?

QUESTION: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

DAVIS: While we have the two, Sheriff Waldie and Commissioner Helmick on the line, let me just open it up to questions in case some of the questions are directed to them.

BLITZER: Gray Davis, the governor of California, announcing what he hopes is, what precisely not a hundred percent confirmed according to local sheriff authorities, but looks like the successful resolution, very happy ending to an abduction by gunpoint of these two young women, Jacqueline Marris, 17 years old, Tamara brooks, 16 years old.

Late last night, they were in an area of Los Angeles County called, very popular area, Lover's Lane in two cars with two young men. An individual described as someone between 30 and 40 years old, medium build, dark complexion approached the car with a gun, forced all of the people out. The young men were tied up. The women were abducted. There was an all-state search that's been going on ever since we heard the governor of California, Gray Davis speak with the assistant sheriff, Larry Waldie, who says that it looks like everyone, the girls are fine. The suspect apparently has been shot. He has been taken into custody.

Our Casey Wian is on the scene in Lancaster, California. Casey, you've got some more information that developing even as we speak.

WIAN: Absolutely, Wolf. It's amazing. Throughout this day we have seen friends and relatives of the two abducted girls passing out flyers, throughout the streets of the Antelope Valley. The reaction to the news that still unconfirmed as you point out, but to the apparent news that these girls are now safe and sound has just been met with tears of joy throughout this community.

These people have -- the amount of effort they have mobilized in the past, oh, less than 12 hours or so, is really amazing. One girl was telling us that they went to a copy center to make flyers, which I can show you here. And somebody came in, they put out a picture of one of the victims, Jacqueline Marris, made up these flyers, someone who they didn't know came into the coffee shop and just paid for all of them, just out of his own pocket. Here we've got a couple of friends of one of the victims.

And how has this been for you these last few hours?

UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: Very tiring, hoping.

WIAN: What have you been doing? Have you just been staying around here at sheriff's station?

UNIDIENTIFIED GIRL: Until everybody was over here, and then I came straight over here.

WIAN: What are all your friends doing?

UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: They're calling me. They are calling me. They found her.

WIAN: This has got to be wonderful news.

UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How did you hear they were OK?

UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: Him.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So you didn't hear it from a family member or anything like that.

UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: No, he just like, come here. He was like, they found her.

WIAN?: Tell me about Tamara a little bit.

UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: I'm happy, I am glad she's OK. I can't wait to see her, oh, my God. first words out of my mouth were like, I love you, I'm glad you're OK.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How did you find out that you friends may have been saved?

UNIDIENTIFIED GIRL: Him over there. He was just like, oh, we found out that, yeah, that they found them and we are just so happy.

WIAN: Tell me about this, tell me about this area where they were abducted from. What is that like, the Quarts Hill water tower. Tell me about that.

UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: I have never been up there. I have never heard of people going up there. It was just a water tower. I have never been up there.

WIAN: Thank you very much for your time. We appreciate it.

Wolf, one thing I do want to point out is that this was the first test of the state's amber alert system, which is a communication system that was put into place when juveniles are abducted. Throughout the day, local media, television and radio stations, the California highway patrol, through signs around freeways here, put out alerts with the description of the vehicle and a phone number for people to call in. We have no way of knowing at this point, if that played a role in the apparently successful conclusion of this story. But we do know that the alerts got out there, and the system as far as we can tell, worked as planned. Wolf?

BLITZER: Casey, obviously a lot of happy people in southern California, in the Los Angeles area, Los Angeles County. If these reports and we believe these reports are true, both girls safely found only hours after they were kidnapped at gunpoint by a suspect. The suspect, according the assistant sheriff, Larry Waldie, apparently has been shot, is in custody, so that means he's obviously still alive.

What do we know, if anything, about this suspect, Casey, and the white Bronco that was reportedly seen leaving the scene?

WIAN: We are now about ready to join a sheriff's department news conference. But Wolf, what I can tell you as we're waiting for that news conference to start, is that we know this suspect is described as a Hispanic male, based not on his looks but on the way he sounded by one of the victims. Anyways, I will duck out so you can hear that news conference now.

ASST. SHERIFF LARRY WALDIE, LOS ANGELES COUNTY: I'm really happy to be here to first of all announce that the girls are safe in the care of the Kern County sheriff's department. The suspect is deceased. He has been killed at the scene. But the good news is the girls have been found. They have been safe and I think in a tremendous effort by all of law enforcement, not just the L.A. County sheriff's department, the one here at Lancaster, support we got from the city, but from the governor's office and from the highway patrol. It's been absolutely incredible, the amount of people you see that are here, all contributed since 2:00 this morning when we got the 911 call. And we have put literally hundreds of people to work on this from the very beginning, and hopefully to a successful conclusion. Basically the crime...

QUESTION: How did they capture...

WALDIE: No, I do not have details. We just took a phone call from Kern County sheriff's department saying they stopped the Bronco and that they had the girls in custody. They were safe and the last word I got and I got just got it as I was walking down here was the subject is deceased. He had a gun at the scene. I do not know if he fired at that scene. I do not know that.

QUESTION: Conditions of the girls.

WALDIE: The girls, all I know is are safe in the custody of Kern County sheriff.

QUESTION: Do you know if they were harmed at some point in the last 12 hours?

WALDIE: Well, we're going to send - we're actually taking our plane and we're going to take both parents up there, fly them up there right from here. I've ordered the plane so they could be with their two daughters so at the sheriff's station there and be with them and deal with, if anything did occur to the girls. But the parents are - we're going to send them up there.

QUESTION: (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

WALDIE: I don't know that. I'm telling you I just got this just as I'm walking down here, the details regarding the girls being in custody at Kern County sheriff. Yes.

QUESTION: In Lancaster, can you tell us how far they were spotted, how far from this particular location?

WALDIE: Well, we had somewhat of a trail of spotting all the way going up from about 65 going up to Ridge Crest, going up north. We had them spotted twice and then finding the location by the Kern County Sheriff's Department. I think the area that we're talking about is about 100 miles from here.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

WALDIE: The suspect's name, as we have it as confirmed is Roy Ratliff.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

WALDIE: Roy, R-O-Y, R-A-T-L-I-F-F.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

WALDIE: I do not have an age on the suspect yet.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

WALDIE: Rosamond.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

WALDIE: Yes, as a matter of fact, I was told, again, as I walked up here. So I'm giving you information as I got it. There was a $3 million bail -- I mean, warrant out for his arrest. I don't know what charge -- excuse me. The charges were rape, 261.

QUESTION: Sheriff, when you came out, you were very emotional when you announced this. This story really has had quite a punch even on you, a seasoned law enforcement...

WALDIE: Well, don't ask me those kind of questions.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

WALDIE: Very pleased. The efforts of everybody saving two lives is remarkable.

(APPLAUSE)

WALDIE: And this is not just the L.A. County Sheriff, Kern County Sheriff, CHP, LAPD helicopters were over helping us.

We had eight aircraft in the area, five helicopters and three fixed wings when the word went out. And it went out over the new system from the governor's office,the AMBER alert system, which is phenomenal. We just got that Friday. They faxed it to us and said, "Would you mind putting this out to your stations?" We usually don't do things like that, because we create our own policy. But the sheriff authorized that to go out immediately last Friday.

So we activated this system and were able to get it statewide. So it was really an effective system and just incredible. You go down there. You see the cheering down there all of the people that are working on this, the hundreds of people in law enforcement. QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

WALDIE: No, it was a stop by Kern County Sheriff's Department. It was assisted by California Highway Patrol.

QUESTION: What was the warrant for?

WALDIE: The warrant was for 261, which is rape.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

QUESTION: Before you heard this development that he'd been shot and killed, did you try to identify him?

WALDIE: We had identified -- we were not sure. We had been in contact with Las Vegas PD. There was a carjacking almost identical to the same one that they did here. When they attempted the kidnap of the victims in Las Vegas, they had done a composite and done a six- pack to confirm who this was.

We were getting that information. We were pretty clear it was -- we believed it was this individual, the same one from Las Vegas, which occurred on July 13th.

QUESTION: Can you show us that photo of the suspect? Can you?

WALDIE: I can show you this photo of the suspect. I don't if you can hone in on this right now. It's rather small.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

WALDIE: Sure. We'll make sure our headquarters bureau puts out this information.

QUESTION: What do you know about the circumstances of shooting, sir?

WALDIE: I have no information regarding the circumstances of the shooting. The only information I have is that the suspect is deceased.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

WALDIE: No, I have no information on his history. No, I do not.

QUESTION: (OFF MIKE)

WALDIE: Our information was from Las Vegas, that he attempted to carjack a vehicle with two women in it and that he was successful in the carjacking, but he did not kidnap the victims.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) the girls come home?

WALDIE: Well, I don't know that. As I said, I've asked for our -- what you would call our infamous airplane that we use for these type of purposes and for other good things to come up here and take the parents, if they so desire. We'll fly them immediately to Kern county and get them there.

QUESTION: (OFF MIKE)

WALDIE: No, I asked -- the minute I heard the news, I asked the captain to bring the family members in, to let them know that their daughters were safe.

QUESTION: Tell us what you know about the condition of the girls at the moment.

WALDIE: The only word I have on the girls is that they're safe; they are in the custody of Kern County -- in the care of Kern County Sheriff.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

WALDIE: Again, I'll repeat, I do not know that. I just know that they're safe. And that was the word I -- this was all done as I walked down here to let the news out.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

WALDIE: I do not know that either.

QUESTION: Tell us about the AMBER alert.

WALDIE: The AMBER alert system is a system that the governor has put up, available where we make notification, that they can put out information on, as you saw it, on the Caltrain signs and the teletype -- instantly, when a major crime occurs, particularly dealing with children or young adults, that everyone can have almost an immediate notification to every single agency in the state.

QUESTION: Did it help you?

WALDIE: Oh, yes, it did.

We had our own JDIC (ph) system, which is a JDIC process that we use, which is teletype each one. But this AMBER alert was able to put it out. And you saw the reaction. It went right out to the freeways and everything else.

QUESTION: You said he was spotted twice. Is that from the air while he was driving?

WALDIE: We had two sightings. We had some maintenance people from Caltrain believed they saw the truck at one point heading that way, up north, and a second sighting that they may have seen the truck, and then eventually the stop. Yes, there were two other sightings.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

WALDIE: I am Assistant Sheriff Larry Waldie, W-A-L-D-I-E.

QUESTION: Can you say approximately what route he took? You said Ridgecrest and then back over the mountains.

WALDIE: I'm not sure about that. That will come out in the investigation. I do not know.

QUESTION: ... shooting happened. Was that in Ridgecrest?

WALDIE: The shooting occurred in Kern County. I don't have the exact location.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

WALDIE: The shooting occurred, I would literally say, probably just a half-hour ago.

We got the call from CHP dispatch. Chief Mike Brown is here from California Highway Patrol. He came in. And I was on a conference call with the governor. And he said there's been a shooting, a similar type vehicle, and more details to follow.

QUESTION: Is it safe to assume that we don't know yet whether the girls were in any way harmed?

WALDIE: I don't know the condition -- as far as I'm concerned, they're safe. They're alive. They're well. That's the most important thing.

(APPLAUSE)

WALDIE: That was our focus and the focus of all of us, to make sure they were alive.

QUESTION: (OFF MIKE)

WALDIE: Based on the description and the interview with the victims, apparently, they were of the opinion that he was of Hispanic descent, based on accent and physical description.

QUESTION: (OFF MIKE)

WALDIE: I don't know that. I don't know if these victims did speak Spanish.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) satisfied, sir, with the outcome of these so far?

WALDIE: Can't tell you, that good.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) situation affect people in law enforcement. Tell me about the motivation that was behind your search.

WALDIE: Well, you saw it. We have people that have been up all night. They didn't leave their shifts. This occurred about 1:00 this morning. They had the regular cars come out. All the Palmdale cars came over to help the city of Lancaster. The Santa Clarita cars came out. CHP -- sorry, I shouldn't say that. California Highway Patrol came out, gave us airplanes. LAPD, when I was flying over here, said, "Hey, I'm scouring the hills." And it affected everyone. They just shut down all they were doing to save two lives.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) put up some resistance, if he was shot?

WALDIE: He had a gun -- there's's no doubt about that -- when he made the original. So I presume, yes, there was resistance.

QUESTION: (OFF MIKE)

WALDIE: Well, I don't think the word is luckier. I think all the systems that were put into place, the new availability to get the word out, the dedication of the officers, the expertise of the officers.

As you know, we didn't put it out, but we had quite a bit of information that we had developed in a very short timeframe. So, absolutely. I don't think it was a matter of luck. I think it was a lot of effort and a lot of the new systems that really helped us.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

WALDIE: I feel very fortunate, not for me, but for the girls.

QUESTION: (OFF MIKE)

WALDIE: Yes, I'll do a little later briefing with more details regarding the shooting.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

WALDIE: I don't know, as soon as I get the information. I have to call and see if they'll give it to me. I'm sure they will. And I'll be back out. OK?

I'll tell you what. I'll be back out here at 2:30.

QUESTION: Sir, will the girls come and talk to us at all? Do you know that yet?

WALDIE: Pardon me?

QUESTION: Will the girls come out and talk to us at all, the teenagers?

WALDIE: I have no idea.

BLITZER: And so the assistant sheriff, Larry Waldie, making the important and very happy announcement that both girls abducted by gunpoint in the middle of the night in an area, a popular area, in the Los Angeles County area called lover's lane are fine. They've been safely rescued.

The suspect in this particular case, an individual described, said to be Roy Ratliff, was shot and killed in the course of that successful capture. That's a picture of Roy Ratliff. He was apparently was out, was wanted. There was a warrant for his arrest in connection with rape charges.

Let's bring in our Casey Wian. He's been covering the story all afternoon. He's on the scene.

Casey, the sheriff, we heard the sheriff say that there's a plane getting ready to take the parents about 100 miles away to Kern County, where the successful rescue occurred -- a lot of happy people, I'm sure, there. What's going on now?

WIAN: Well, still a lot of unanswered questions about this case, but obviously a lot of happy people.

You saw during that news conference the sheriff choking with emotion. It is an incredible scene. You don't often see that.

And joining me now are two friends of one of the kidnapped victims.

Can you both tell me your name?

SHANILLE VAN BATHWAR, FRIEND OF JACQUELINE MARRIS: Shanille Van Bathwar (ph).

JAMIE JOHNSTON, FRIEND OF JACQUELINE MARRIS: I'm Jamie Johnston (ph).

WIAN: And which girl do you know?

VAN BATHWAR: Jackie.

WIAN: And tell me about the effort that all of the friends and family members put out this morning to try and find her.

VAN BATHWAR: Everyone has been so, so, so into this. And I'm happy that it worked out the way it did, because, if it didn't, then everybody would be heartbroken.

JOHNSTON: They had people donating money and make fliers, all kind of stuff. So, we really appreciate that.

VAN BATHWAR: We got up at 7:30 this morning, went to Kinko's, made fliers, passed them out for three hours.

JOHNSTON: We weren't going to stop until we found a good ending.

VAN BATHWAR: That's true.

WIAN: Were you optimistic that you were going to find her?

VAN BATHWAR: Always. Always.

JOHNSTON: Yes.

VAN BATHWAR: Always optimistic. WIAN: And it is early. The details are still coming out. We don't know exactly what happened. But why do you think she was found successfully?

JOHNSTON: Jackie, she is like that. She is determined. Yes. She won't just sit there and just watch something happen to her. She'll find help. And she did. So...

WIAN: And your feelings now?

VAN BATHWAR: I'm am ecstatic. I can't stop shaking. It's the best feeling in the whole entire world.

JOHNSTON: We're trying to thank God so much that they're safe. That was the main thing, that they were safe.

WIAN: Fantastic. Thank you both for your time. Appreciate it.

JOHNSTON: Thank you very much.

WIAN: Wolf, that's a vivid description of the emotion that's here and the happiness. We've had a lot of these type of cases lately that we in the media been paying attention to. And this is one that, for once, has a nice happy ending -- Wolf.

BLITZER: And the parents, Casey, do we know if the parents are going to accept the offer from the assistant sheriff to get on a plane right now, fly over to Kern County and see the girls?

WIAN: We have no way of knowing that, Wolf. We have not heard from the parents or spoken to the parents. But, as a parent, if it was one of my kids, I'd be on that plane. So I imagine they probably will be.

BLITZER: The sheriff also said, Casey, as you heard and as our viewers heard, that there was a similar case in the Las Vegas area that apparently helped the California Highway Patrol make this a very happy conclusion.

What do about you know that case, if anything, in the Las Vegas area, a carjacking, two women. Apparently, the women were not taken in that case. But it did help local police, California police, get a better identity on this suspect.

WIAN: Absolutely.

We do know that about two weeks ago -- I believe the date was July 13.

(CROSSTALK)

WIAN: We have an announcement behind me, Wolf. Let's...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... particular incident. They're willing to come out and give a statement.

WIAN: OK, we're going to be hearing from the two male companions of the kidnapped victims very soon.

But, anyways, in terms of that earlier case that you were talking about, there was a Saturn vehicle that was carjacked, as you mentioned, two women, a driver and a passenger. The women were not taken by the suspect, but the vehicle was. That Saturn vehicle ended up here or near here at the crime scene.

Officers say that they found that gasoline was poured all over the vehicle. So they surmised that the suspect was trying to burn it to destroy evidence. We saw pictures from a stringer, an affiliate, that showed that the vehicle was missing its wheels. And what happened there was, the law enforcement officials took the wheels off that Saturn vehicle to do tire analysis and those types of things and try to determine where the vehicle came from and where the vehicle may have gone.

So we don't know at this point what role that played in the case, but we do know that they were on that.

BLITZER: And, Casey, explain to our viewers who aren't familiar with the statewide procedures that Governor Davis and Sheriff Waldie were talking about.

WIAN: Well, actually, I'm joined right now by Sheriff Waldie, who can tell us a little bit more about how the AMBER alert system worked in this case.

Obviously, as you were mentioning, Sheriff, this is something that just was just implemented last week. Tell me how it worked in this case.

WALDIE: Well, we got the call Friday from Highway Patrol asking us to implement with their policy, which is kind of unusual. We don't normally do those things. We put our own policy and then implement.

But the sheriff wanted it implemented immediately, so we used their policy and put it into place. And, in this particular case, I thank God we did. We didn't wait for a policy statement to come out. What it is was, we made notification through this system. And, quite frankly, it worked wonderfully. Everyone knew about it.

We had two sightings from people that had seen the alert, and so a very effective system.

WIAN: I saw signs when I was driving here this morning on the freeway alerting people. How widespread is that AMBER alert system?

WALDIE: That AMBER alert is statewide. I had calls from Northern California saying that they had seen the alert. It is a critical need. Particularly when you have a crime with the speed of the freeway's cars and access to getting away, this is a tremendous tool for us.

WIAN: Do we have any idea whether the AMBER system specifically helped capture this suspect? WALDIE: Well, I would think it did. I don't specifically know that. But the fact that everyone was aware of it and we had some sightings, we were tracking his trail going that way, I think it did have something to do.

WIAN: Can you talk about the law enforcement mobilization in this case? How many officers and people were involved, both at the federal and local level?

WALDIE: At the federal level, we had several FBI agents. At our own department, we had 150 people assigned. Highway Patrol had about 50 people here. And we also eight aircraft, not all ours, five helicopters and three fixed-wing aircraft.

WIAN: Thank you, Sheriff.

We're going to join this news conference. Thank you very much.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have Nadine Dyer. And she is the mother of Jacqueline.

Obviously, it's been a very trying day for her. And if she's willing to answer any questions, we'll leave it up to you guys. Just keep it as orderly as possible.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come on right here, Nadine.

NADINE DYER, MOTHER OF JACQUELINE MARRIS: No, not yet. I haven't.

QUESTION: What have they told you about her?

DYER: Not much, not yet.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

DYER: I just would like to thank everyone who helped us in finding the girls. I really appreciate all your help and your effort. And I'm really glad that they came home safe. And I'm just looking forward to seeing them. And I want to thank everyone.

QUESTION: Say your name.

DYER: Nadine Dyer.

QUESTION: What were your thoughts during all of this?

DYER: Just hoping that the girls would come home safe, and that they wouldn't be harmed, and there would be nothing wrong with them.

QUESTION: Do you know if the girls have been harmed or their physical condition right now? Have you been told anything?

DYER: We just know that they've been fine and that we've been told that they're safe and they're OK.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) ... talk to your daughter over the phone?

DYER: We haven't spoke with them yet, no.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

DYER: I have to wait until they call and say I can.

QUESTION: Are you going up?

DYER: Yes.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

DYER: No. There are too many people here. And everyone was praying and everyone had good wishes.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) just a few minutes ago that the girls were safe?

DYER: It was just really exciting. And your heart just went back in your chest to know that your kids are alive.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) Do you believe it?

DYER: No, because you hear and you see the TV every day about kids every day being taken and abducted. And a lot of them don't make it home. And I really feel for their parents.

QUESTION: What's your last name?

DYER: Dyer.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

DYER: Yes.

QUESTION: And your first name is spelled?

DYER: N-A-D-I-N-E.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

DYER: I used to work at the elementary school, but now I'm just at home with my kids again.

QUESTION: As a teacher?

DYER: No as an aide out there watching the kids outside and stuff.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

DYER: Palmdale.

QUESTION: What city do you live?

DYER: Palmdale.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nadine has had a long day. And she has let you know that she has done OK. I appreciate it.

DYER: Thank you.

(CROSSTALK)

HERB MARRIS, FATHER OF JACQUELINE MARRIS: Hi. I'm Jackie's father, Herb Marris.

(APPLAUSE)

MARRIS: I want to tell you, man, we had a lot of support back here. And I didn't lose faith in these guys until I got the word. And it was a big relief. I couldn't believe it.

This AMBER system that you guys put out was actually put in place to help these victims such as mine, my little child, Jackie. I can't wait to see her. I love her so much. If you're watching this, honey, I love you. I can't wait until you get home. I just want to thank everybody for helping out. Thank you.

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: Is Jackie going to be allowed out at 1:00 in the morning?

MARRIS: Yes, we're going to have a little LoJack for her about a five-mile radius and be in by 8:00.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

MARRIS: What do I think about the suspect being dead? I'm not really sure. I just feel that my daughter's safe. And that's pretty much what I care about right now. It's important to me.

(CROSSTALK)

MARRIS: They say in about five hours from now, they were going to take her and do some stuff with her, about five hours from now. I can't wait. I'll probably go out there and fly and see her.

(CROSSTALK)

MARRIS: One-way ticket, baby.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

MARRIS: Yes, Herb.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) MARRIS: Yes, two R's, right.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

MARRIS: What's that?

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

MARRIS: Oh, I'm in computer sales.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

MARRIS: No, I live down in Foothill Ranch down south by Mission Viejo.

QUESTION: How far is that?

MARRIS: It's about a good hour away. So, when I got the word from my best friend, Johnny, I couldn't believe that it was happening to me. But we got down here and just waited it out. That's all we had to do.

QUESTION: Did you know the young men that they were with?

MARRIS: No, I did not, no.

I want to thank the police officer who caught the people and apprehended him or disposed of him, whatever you want to say it. But thank God the kids are OK and they're coming home.

Thank you, guys.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

SAMMIE BROOKS, FATHER OF TAMARA BROOKS: My name is Sam Brooks. I'm Tamara's father.

And I'd like to thank you guys for the job you've done. You should pat yourselves on the back. If it wasn't for the media, this wouldn't have worked. I want to thank the sheriff's department, the FBI, every agency that worked on this. And I think I couldn't be a happier man right now. And I hope I never or any of you have to go through something like this.

Any questions?

QUESTION: How do you think your daughter was able to handle this or deal? We understand there's a lot of people either going to West Point or coming from it. How would your daughter handle this?

S. BROOKS: Well, Tamara is a very, very strong-willed person. It is going to take her a while, but I think she'll recover from this. It runs in our genetic code.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

S. BROOKS: Pardon me?

QUESTION: Is she going to be out at 1:00 in the morning? I asked (OFF-MIKE) that question.

S. BROOKS: I think we'll talk about that.

QUESTION: At any point, did you ever lose hope?

S. BROOKS: Well, I never lost hope. And when I found out some things about the situation and who the people were that was working on it, I felt confident that it would turn out the best that it could possibly turn out. And it did turn out well.

QUESTION: Your full name again, sir, is?

S. BROOKS: S-A-M-M-I-E, middle initial J., B-R-O-O-K-S.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

S. BROOKS: Pardon me?

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

S. BROOKS: I'm a teacher and a supervisor at the Antelope Valley College.

QUESTION: Mr. Brooks...

S. BROOKS: Yes?

QUESTION: ... can you tell us how your emotions went up and down during the day? (OFF-MIKE)

S. BROOKS: My emotions have not come down. And they're really high right now, really high.

QUESTION: What's the first thing you're going to do when you see your daughter?

S. BROOKS: Give her a hug. Be glad to see her.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

S. BROOKS: I'm sorry. Speak up.

QUESTION: I understand your daughters did not know one another. But there's been some bonding going on amongst all the family...

S. BROOKS: I'm pretty sure. I'm pretty sure.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They're probably best friends right now.

S. BROOKS: Yes.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

S. BROOKS: Waiting.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Praying.

S. BROOKS: Yes, here in the sheriff's station. We've been waiting.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

S. BROOKS: It's going to work. Just keep the faith. And we smiled at each other when we could. And we waited. That's all you can do.

QUESTION: Mr. Brooks, have you talked to your daughter yet on the phone?

S. BROOKS: Not yet, not yet.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

S. BROOKS: The first thing I'll say to her is I love her very much. I'm glad she's safe.

Any other questions?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Fifteen minutes of fame, baby. Let's go.

(CROSSTALK)

MARCUS BROOKS, SISTER OF TAMARA S. BROOKS: Hello, my name is Marcus (ph) Brooks. Tamara is my sister.

QUESTION: How old are you, Marcus?

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

M. BROOKS: I'm 18 years old. And I'm just happy that she's OK and she's not harmed in any way.

QUESTION: Marcus, tell us about your sister, about her state of mind, her ability to withstand something as difficult as what she has gone through.

M. BROOKS: Well, Tamara is a very, very smart, intelligent person. She has got a very active mind. She's just wonderful all the way around.

QUESTION: You haven't been able to talk to your sister yet, have you?

M. BROOKS: No, I have not talked to my sister, but I'll see her as soon as possible.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have to go.

M. BROOKS: Thank you very much.

(CHEERING and APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: And so very happy family members, relatives, friends of two young women who were abducted at gunpoint late last night in an area in Los Angeles County, a popular area among young people called lover's lane. They were in a car, separate cars. Apparently, these two young women did not know each other, with young men.

The men were forced out of the cars by the suspect, the suspect in this particular case a man identified as Roy Ratliff, who was apprehended, shot by police and killed, apparently, in the successful rescue of these young women in Kern County about 100 miles away from Los Angeles County in Lancaster, where this incident occurred, an incident that has gripped at least much of the nation during the course of today -- a very happy ending to this story.

Casey Wian, our reporter on the scene, once again is joining us.

Casey, we heard the sheriff in his discussion with you say he'll be out later, presumably in about another half-hour, 45 minutes, with some more details. We really don't know much about the actual incident, the apprehension, the shooting of this suspect, other than that white Bronco he was driving was apparently spotted twice, he said, by California Highway Patrol.

Are there any more details that we know about this?

WIAN: Nothing that I've heard. I know what you know, Wolf.

I've heard the same things. It was spotted twice from the air. They mobilized an incredible mini air force, if you will, of five helicopters and three fixed-wing aircrafts, spotted twice. Of course, they credited that AMBER alert system for that all coming together. But we don't know anything about whether the suspect was shot by himself or whether the suspect was shot by law enforcement officers. That I imagine we'll hear when the sheriff comes back out in his news conference.

The one thing we do know, incredibly, in this case, is quite a lot of details about the incident as it happened. We have video. And I don't know if we have access to it there. But we have video that was taken earlier of one of the male companions of the two girls. And he was being interviewed by sheriff's deputies at the time. And he was still taking the duct tape off of his body that he had been tied up with.

And we heard him give a description of the suspect, as he said, a male Hispanic, again, based not on necessarily the way he looked, only based on the way he spoke, his speech patterns. And he said he was in his 30s to 40s. He also said he smelled like beer. So, we had some incredible descriptions of the suspect and the car he came out to this area in from the Las Vegas area.

But in terms of what actually went down at the end of this case, we don't know. And we'll be waiting to hear from the sheriff in hopefully a few minutes, Wolf. BLITZER: For those of us who aren't familiar, Casey, with California, Kern County, where is Kern County, around what major city that might be more understandable to those of us who don't know California geography that well?

WIAN: Sure.

Kern County. The city of Bakersfield is the biggest city in Kern County. It is located to the north of here in Lancaster. Lancaster is basically at the northern end of Los Angeles County. When Lancaster ends, just a few miles north of here, Kern County begins. So it's in the central part of the state, north and east. It's the beginning, the gateway, if you will, to the San Joaquin Valley, which is a big agricultural community in California.

And I believe we have someone here who is going to talk to us.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Best friends.

WIAN: You are best friends of Jackie.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are the four Musketeers

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... Lauren (ph). This is the four Musketeers.

WIAN: Tell me about your friend. What kind of a girl is she?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, great.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Always smiling.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Always smiling. Funny.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She's a big dork, too.

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She is.

WIAN: Tell me about this area where they were abducted from.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's a big party place.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not lover's lane.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's not lover's lane.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You go there and chill.

WIAN: You just go there and chill?

Does this give you guys any pause about going back up there again?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Kind of, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's always been a safe place to go, though. We've never had any problems going up there.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You would never be worried. You would never be scared if you were with someone else. Come on, now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He has to be from the Antelope Valley, because there's no way he could find it unless he's from around here.

WIAN: Tell me about this community. Is this a high-crime area?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, not at all. Not at all.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... 1:00 in the morning somewhere, because it's Palmdale. What is it?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nothing is going to happen to us in Palmdale.

(CROSSTALK)

WIAN: Well, now that something has happened in Palmdale, how is it going to change the way you guys live your lives?

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A lot more careful. Take more precautions.

WIAN: And what are you guys going to do when you see Jackie?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Give her a hug.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She's going to get laid.

WIAN: Thanks very much.

Well, there you go, Wolf. That's some of Jackie's friends, very happy, and I guess correcting some of the reporting that some of us have been doing. Some people have called this area a sort of lover's lane. They say it's not. It's just a place for teenagers to chill, as they say. We don't know if that will continue to be after the scare that they've had -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Casey, lover's lane.

We haven't directly yet heard from the two young men, the two boys who were with the girls. Have they been talking to police, basically providing information? I understand that's what they were probably doing most of the day.

WIAN: Actually, we were -- we did have some videotape of some of those -- of one of those boys talking about his experience and how he was scared and what he did.

The two boys were parked, from what we can tell, in separate vehicles. We don't think they knew each other. The suspect approached one of the vehicles first and tied up the young man and took the woman and said to the young man that he wanted his vehicle. And so that gave law enforcement authorities some hope that perhaps he was only interested in getting away.

But the words that were really chilling to me from that earlier press conference with the sheriff was that this suspect was on $3 million bail -- or a $3 million warrant was out for his arrest, and the charge he was facing was rape, so...

BLITZER: All right...

WIAN: Back to you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes, Casey, I was going to say, for our viewers who are just joining us now at the top of the hour, let's recap. Let's tell the story, what we know from the beginning, so that our viewers will be fully up to speed.

We do know there are right now tears of joy, of course, in California. These two teenage girls who were kidnapped earlier overnight are safe and sound. The suspect has been shot, we assume by the police, about 100 miles away from the scene.

Casey, talk to us about what exactly happened during the course of today for those of our viewers who are just joining us right now.

WIAN: Well, what I can tell you is at the very beginning, 2:00 o'clock in the morning local time, there were two groups of teenagers parked up in this area of the Antelope Valley known as the Quarts (ph) Hill water tower. As we heard, it's a gathering spot for teenagers to hang out.

The teenagers apparently did not know each other, but they were approached by this suspect, described as a male Hispanic in his 30s and 40s. They came up to one of the vehicles, ordered at gunpoint -- we're told he was armed with a dark semi-automatic weapon -- at gunpoint ordered them out of the vehicle, tied up with duct tape the male companion of one of these -- one of the female victims and took the female with him.

He then came upon the other victims in a separate vehicle and somehow restrained the other young girl's male companion, took her with him at gunpoint and then fled the scene.

So after that, a massive law enforcement manhunt went out for this suspect. He was driving an early 1980s model white Ford Bronco. The law enforcement officials triggered the state's AMBER alert system, which is a system whereby the state informs local media, radio and television stations, local law enforcement agencies throughout the state. They put up signs. The traffic signs along the freeways in southern California and throughout the state had the vehicle's description and license plate number on it and a number to call to report anyone who may see this vehicle, so -- and this was the first time that this AMBER alert system went into effect. It just was basically put into place just last Friday, we're told.

So the system worked very well. Law enforcement mobilized -- the FBI, local law enforcement, the California Highway Patrol. They had a mini-air force of five helicopter and three fixed-wing aircraft. The vehicle was spotted twice, and they were -- they somehow caught up to the vehicle. And all we know...

BLITZER: All right, Casey, let me...

WIAN: ... is that the suspect was shot.

BLITZER: Casey, let me interrupt you and tell our viewers what they're seeing right now. These are live pictures, helicopter pictures, we're seeing of that white Bronco, that 1980 white Bronco in Kern County. This is where the apprehension of the two young women, the two teenage girls, was made. The suspect in this particular case, a man identified by police as Roy Ratliff -- R-A-T-L-I-F-F, Roy Ratliff -- a man wanted on rape charges, a $3 million warrant out for -- in connection with him, was shot and killed in the course of the apprehension.

The -- earlier, when the sheriff was briefing us on all of these developments, including the good news that the two girls were found safe and rescued in the course of this operation, the president spoke -- the sheriff spoke very, very plainly.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WALDIE: The girls are safe and in the care of the Kern County Sheriff's Department. The suspect is deceased. He has been killed at the scene. But the good news is the girls have been found. They've been safe.

And I think a tremendous effort by all of law enforcement, not just L.A. County Sheriff's Department, but the one (UNINTELLIGIBLE) here at Lancaster, the support we got from the city, but from the governor's office and from the Highway Patrol has been absolutely incredible. The amount of people you see that are here all contributed since 2:00 o'clock this morning, when we got the 911 call. And we have put literally hundreds of people to work on this from the very beginning and, hopefully, to a successful conclusion.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: That was assistant sheriff, Larry Waldie, briefing reporters just a short while ago, safe rescue of these two young women. Let's tell you a little more about both of the teenage girls. Sixteen-year-old Tamara Brooks will be a junior this fall at Antelope Valley High School. A friend described her to the "Los Angeles Times" as "smart and strong, a good student who becomes friends with everyone she meets." Seventeen-year-old Jackie (ph) Marris is a cheerleader and dancer at the Highland High School in Palmdale. One classmate called her "a fighter who doesn't let anyone mess with her."

Let's get a little bit more on this very, very dramatic rescue operation. Casey Wian is once again standing by. He's been covering this story with us all day.

Casey, as you see the scene over there, are the two young men who were with the young teenage girls -- are they around over there behind you at the location?

WIAN: You know, Wolf, I don't think so. I have not seen them. I have seen them on videotape that our producers got earlier this morning, but I have not seen them in the area. Of course, there are dozens of young people, friends and family members, still milling around. So it's possible that I could have missed them, but at this point, I have not seen them. I imagine we'll probably be hearing from them pretty soon.

BLITZER: We did hear, Casey, as you and our viewers -- those of our viewers who are watching CNN -- we did hear from the parents. We heard from Herb Marris. He's the father of Jackie Marris, and Nadine Dyer (ph), the mother of Jackie Marris. And we heard from Sam Brooks, Tamara Brooks's father. We also heard from Marcus Brooks (ph), her brother -- obviously, all elated.

I think I heard them say they were going to go on that plane, accept the invitation from the local police to fly up to Kern County and actually touch and feel and see their loved ones immediately. Is that what they said?

WIAN: That's what I heard them say. It was a little hard to hear, but I know that Mr. Brooks himself -- I know he definitely said that he would be on that plane. And I think Jackie's father, if I remember correctly, said the same thing. So you know, there was an offer from the sheriff's department, somewhat extraordinary, I would imagine. But I think they'll be on their way very soon.

BLITZER: And the deputy sheriff -- the assistant sheriff, Larry Waldie -- he said he's gathering more information. It was very interesting to me, and I assume to our viewers. He was passing along information as he was getting it, which in this kind of work sometimes can be dangerous. Originally, when the governor, Governor Gray Davis, was reporting what he had been told, the original word that he got was that the suspect in the case was shot but had been taken into custody. Shortly thereafter, we learned from the assistant sheriff the suspect had died in the course of the battle.

Casey Wian, go ahead and tell us who you're talking to now.

WIAN: Wolf, we have the father, Herb Marris, of Jackie, and... Tell me about the ordeal you've been through over the last, I guess, 12 hours so.

MARRIS: Well, the ordeal is I've been just sitting and waiting and hoping everything would be OK. But as soon as I got the word today that she's going to be OK, it was such a relief. But just from before that, my buddy, Johnny, here -- when I heard the news (UNINTELLIGIBLE) my heart just dropped, and I couldn't believe this is happening. I thought it was a dream, you know? It's, like, "Oh, my God." So sitting here at the police department, waiting for the whole system to work, and it worked the way it should -- thank God that system's in place.

WIAN: What do you attribute -- is that system, that AMBER alert system, what you contribute the successful conclusion of this case to?

MARRIS: Exactly, because once you get a word on it, it's nationwide. Everybody's aware of it. And not only the community, but the whole nation knows about it.

WIAN: Now, I -- you live, I heard you say, down in Orange County.

MARRIS: I live...

WIAN: Is that's correct?

MARRIS: ... in Foothill Ranch (ph), yes.

WIAN: In Foothill Ranch. Now, I live in Orange County, as well, and when I came up here this morning, I saw on the freeway some of those signs. Did you see those signs?

MARRIS: Those -- I saw -- every sign I saw had a license plate of the vehicle and said to call 911. And I couldn't believe that was going on so fast. Information travels so quick. It was great. It's good information. It's good to have. Other victims are going through the same trauma as me.

WIAN: Right. And I think -- thank you very much for your time...

MARRIS: Thank you.

WIAN: ... and congratulations. And I believe that we've got Sheriff Waldie ready to speak to us here.

Sheriff, thanks again for joining us. What are the latest developments, if you can tell us? Anything -- anything more about the suspect or the condition of the two girls?

WALDIE: No, nothing on the girls. A little more about the -- the incident with the suspect. He was tracked. He was seen by an animal control officer up toward Kern County, near Lake Isabella. Kern County sheriff -- he reported it to the Kern County sheriff. They picked up the vehicle on Route 178. He crashed and... WIAN: When you say -- excuse me. When you say he picked up the vehicle, what do you mean?

WALDIE: The Kern County sheriff spotted the vehicle and then went into a short pursuit of the vehicle, which then crashed -- as I understand it, not a significant crash. The girls were not hurt from that crash. And then he went into foot pursuit. Once they rescued the girls, Kern County sheriff then went in foot pursuit of him and a shooting occurred. I don't know how that went down, but in that shooting, the suspect was killed.

WIAN: And the girls -- I know you don't have a lot of information on the condition of the girls. Can you describe what they looked like when they were -- when they found? I mean, were they still fully clothed?

WALDIE: I have absolutely no information on that whatsoever.

WIAN: OK.

WALDIE: That has not been given to us.

WIAN: OK. Any idea when we might be able to expect that information?

WALDIE: Probably later tonight. I think the first priority is making sure the parents get to them first.

WIAN: OK. Again, congratulations on the successful conclusion...

WALDIE: Thank you.

WIAN: ... Sheriff Waldie. Thanks very much.

There you have it, Wolf. That's the latest we've got. No information, again, on the specific condition of the girls, other than the fact they are alive. The suspect spotted, somewhat unusually, I guess, by an animal control officer, a brief police pursuit, a crash, a minor crash. And we still don't know exactly how the shooting went down, whether the suspect fired at officers, whether officers fired at him, whether he took his own life. We'll be hearing more of those details, I'm sure, later, Wolf.

BLITZER: And there's that -- that white 1980 Bronco, the vehicle that took the suspect and those two young girls away from their home in the Los Angeles County area to Kern County around Bakersfield about 100 miles away. Once again, both girls safe and sound, a successful rescue operation by California state and local authorities, the suspect dead, in connection with this case.

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