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Press Conference on Abducted 9-year-old

Aired August 28, 2002 - 14:33   ET

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


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Live to southern California now with that news conference regarding missing 9-year-old Nicholas Farber.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: chief of police of the Palm Desert Sheriff's Station. He will come forward, give information that we have at this time, and once he is finished, he will therefore answer questions that you all will have.

(UNINTELLIGIBLE)

PAT MCMANUS, RIVERSIDE POLICE DEPARTMENT: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. My name is Patrick McManus. I'm a captain with Riverside County Sheriff's Department the chief of police for Palm Desert. I would like to introduce Special Agent in Charge Richard Garcia from the FBI and CHP Inland Division Chief Jeff Talbott, who are here to assist in the investigation.

About 02:08 hours this morning, we received a call of a kidnapping in Palm Desert. The father of the kidnapped child, Michael Farber, reported that two armed men broke into his residence and took his son at gunpoint. They did assault him and left in a vehicle. The father was injured, and quite rightly in a state of shock. Deputies got there within two minutes of the call. And it took some time to get information about the suspect and about a suspect vehicle because of the condition of the father.

We would like to tell the people who took the child that with the FBI, the Highway Patrol, the Riverside County Sheriff's Department and other allied agencies, we will find you. And we would like these gentlemen to drop the child off at a safe location and allow us to get the child back to his father. A local fire station would be appropriate or a hospital, and we will take it from there. The important thing is that we want to get the child back.

We would also like to talk to the child's mother. Her name is Deborah Rose (ph). She is 38 years old. I have a photograph of her here. And we would like to contact her to help us with this investigation.

So far, we have a description of a white SUV. We do not have a license plate. And we have very little else to go on. We are looking for two possibly Hispanic males who have taken the child for unknown reasons. We are handling this as a stranger abduction. Force was used. And the suspects were armed at the time they assaulted Mr. Faber. I would like to emphasize that we would -- our main focus here is to get the child back. So whoever has him, whoever has information of these gentlemen, to give us a call. And our tip line is 760 area code, 836-1632. We have investigators standing by at that line. If any one has information on the possible whereabouts of the child, or if they think they know who these two gentlemen are, and if they have any information at all on this white SUV, if they can give us a call.

QUESTION: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) to a possible custody dispute between the mother and the father.

MCMANUS: We are looking into that, but at this present time we're conducting this investigation, as if it was a stranger abduction with force used.

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: What are some distinctive marks. We know he's got the hair, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) like an opening in his teeth. Any cuts, bruises, anything on him that might be recognizable for people?

MCMANUS: Not that we know of. And the child was not injured in the abduction, so we don't have any recent injuries that we can look for.

QUESTION: Who has (UNINTELLIGIBLE) custody of the child?

MCMANUS: That is still in dispute, but the father had physical possession of the child at this time.

QUESTION: For how long?

MCMANUS: Well, for at least two weeks, that we know of in this area.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

MCMANUS: Well, I'll let Chief Talbott discuss the Amber Alert. But I would like to tell you as of this point and continually, we have always had excellent relations with the CHP and the FBI. This is a joint investigation and we have received nothing but cooperation. I was on the phone from early this morning with the local station commander, Sandra Houston, and anything that we need, we've got it.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

MCMANUS: No, he wasn't. And it took some time to get him calmed down to point where we could get information whatsoever because he was assualted. We had to take him to the hospital.

QUESTION: No business problems, personal problems?

MCMANUS: We do know that there are some personal problems between him and the boy's mother, but we haven't confirmed anything yet.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) relationship with the mother?

MCMANUS: A little bit, yes.

QUESTION: What did he say?

MCMANUS: He just said that there was a bad relationship and that that is the reason why he had custody at this time. But we don't really have any further information on that.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) he thought the mother was involved?

MCMANUS: He was suggesting that the vehicle looked like the mother's vehicle, but we have confirmed that her vehicle is at her residence in Colorado so...

QUESTION: Colorado Springs?

MCMANUS: She's in Colorado Springs.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) that your department did not request a statewide Amber Alert and that is why they did not issue one. Did you request a statewide Amber alert, and if not, why not?

MCMANUS: Well, there was some confusion on that. We requested an Amber Alert AT approximately 04:45. But that was with the local dispatch, and the process that goes up through their command staff -- and I believe that our local -- our investigator had requested a regional Amber Alert. And (UNINTELLIGIBLE) there was confusion between a statewide Amber Alert request and then not having enough information.

QUESTION: So is it your belief that there should be a statewide Amber Alert and that this child is in imminent danger?

MCMANUS: Let me let Chief Talbott...

QUESTION: Before you go away, captain, has this been tried before? Has anybody ever tried to take the child before today?

MCMANUS: No.

(CROSSTALK)

JEFF TALBOTT, CALIFORNIA HIGHWAY PATROL: I can talk briefly about the Amber Alert system.

QUESTION: Can you say your name, sir?

TALBOTT: My name is Assistant Chief Jeff Talbott with the California Highway Patrol.

QUESTION: Can you repeat that?

TALBOTT: Jeff Talbott.

QUESTION: Can you spell that for us? TALBOTT: T-A-L-B-O-T-T.

The Amber Alert system, there seems to be some confusion on the Amber Alert system. There are basically four comments of the Amber Alert system. One is the EAS, the emergency alert system, which goes through the media, the crawlers across the television screens, that type of thing. There is the EDIS, which is the electronic digital information system, which is basically an electronic teletype system that gets information out to the media, to law enforcement, any one who can assist with a recovery of a child. There is also the track system, which is a system where we can put out photographs of abducted children on a statewide basis -- or actually on a national basis -- and that will go to hospitals, media, law enforcement, anywhere where information getting out on a child abduction can aid in the recovery of that child. And there is also the changeable message signs that you see along in the freeway.

All four of those components have to be activated to be considered a full Amber Alert.

QUESTION: What's the status now, though?

TALBOTT: Right now, we do not have all of the criteria to activate the changeable message signs. We have a light-colored SUV, but we do not have a license plate on that vehicle. And with all the light-colored SUVs out there, it is not effective police work to activate those signs at this point. We have law enforcement on the alert; however, we don't want to overexaggerate and get our communication systems flooded with sightings of vehicles that may not even match the criteria here.

QUESTION: So would you call this a regional alert then? What would you call what is going on right now?

TALBOTT: We have activated the EDIS system, which is a component of the Amber Alert system, and that has gone out to law enforcement to aid in the recovery of this child.

QUESTION: What does that actually mean (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

TALBOTT: I'm sorry?

QUESTION: What does that actually mean when you say you activated that system? What does that mean?

TALBOTT: That's a teletype system that goes out to law enforcement and media to get the information that we currently have out to law enforcement and to public.

Now, the Highway Patrol is simply a resource available to the primary agency, which is the Riverside Sheriff's Department at this point, and we will we will provide whatever assistance the sheriff's department requests in this investigation.

(CROSSTALK) MCMANUS: I would just like to emphasize that it is early in the investigation. We have a lot of leads that we are following up on, but our main concern is to get the kidnapped child back. So once again, whoever has him, would they just drop him off at a local fire department, a local hospital, and we will take it from there.

QUESTION: Sir, would you describe the mother as a suspect?

MCMANUS: No, the mother is not a suspect. We just want to talk to her to give us some help, and quite rightly, she would be concerned. We need some help in our investigation.

QUESTION: Is finding her your top priority?

MCMANUS: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much. Right now that is going to conclude all questions at this time. We will reconvene momentarily, as soon as more information becomes available that we will release. Again, thank you very much. Again, I will address the media at a later time. Thank you.

PHILLIPS: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) in southern California, Captain Patrick McManus from the Riverside Sheriff's Department updating reporters on the search for 9-year-old Nicholas Farber, the little boy that was abducted in the early morning, about 2:00 a.m. California time.

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