Car spree in Southwest unrelated to missing Utah girl

Saturday, June 15, 2002

SALT LAKE CITY -- The search for 14-year-old Elizabeth Smart took a confusing twist Friday as authorities tracked a string of stolen cars across three states before deciding the spree had nothing to do with the missing girl.

Earlier, police in the Texas panhandle town of Hereford said they had found an abandoned vehicle that had been reported stolen in Colorado. And a Hereford store clerk later identified a man who stole a bottle of water Bret Michael Edmunds, who is wanted for question in the girl's disappearance

By Friday night, authorities captured the man suspected of stealing a string of cars along the Texas-New Mexico border and determined it was not Edmunds.

"I guess you might say at one time he was considered a look alike," said Steve Powell, an FBI agent in Lubbock, Texas. "There's no connection whatsoever with our Utah case."

"When you have a national alert on an individual, you're going to have folks calling saying 'Hey, I think we just saw him.'"

Not a suspect

Edmunds, 26, is being sought by Salt Lake City authorities who want to question him, but they say he is not considered a suspect in the girl's June 5 disappearance. He is also wanted on outstanding warrants on charges of fraud and assault on a police officer.

On Thursday, the license plates police said were on Edmunds' car were found at a park in Centerville, a suburb north of Salt Lake City.

In Salt Lake City on Friday, Cynthia Smart-Owens, Elizabeth's aunt, addressed the abductor: "God knows where you are. God knows where Elizabeth is and we are praying with all our hearts to find her. The satisfaction you might have dreamed of in having Elizabeth will never be there. Let her go."

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