Man wanted in Utah girl's disappearance caught

Friday, June 21, 2002

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Bret Edmunds, the drifter wanted for questioning in the abduction of 14-year-old Elizabeth Smart, has been caught in West Virginia, police said.

Edmunds is in a Martinsburg, W.Va., hospital being treated for a drug overdose, Salt Lake City police Sgt. Fred Louis said.

"It's been confirmed that it's Edmunds," he said.

Police say a man with a handgun took Elizabeth from her bedroom on June 5. Her 9-year-old sister, Mary Katherine, was the sole witness to the abduction.

Authorities have said that Edmunds, 26, could be a witness and is not considered a suspect in the case. The transient had been seen near the family's upscale home by a milkman who remembered part of the car's license plate number, Louis said.

The license plate, stolen from another car, was found ditched Thursday along a road in Centerville, a suburb north of Salt Lake City.

The milkman, Charlie Miller, said that he saw the car two days before the abduction. It drove slowly up and down the Smarts' street, which ends in a cul-de-sac. He said the man followed him up another cul-de-sac street in the neighborhood.

According to authorities, the suspect in the abduction was a white man, 30 to 40 years old, with dark hair and hair. He held a small handgun.

A statement signed by Ed Smart, Elizabeth's father, says the family has looked at Edmunds' photograph and doesn't recognize him.

Edmunds was being sought for outstanding warrants on charges of fraud and assault on a police officer. He had served 60 days and was put on probation in 2000 for stealing and forging checks.

In early May, Edmunds was stopped by a West Valley City police officer for having an improper car registration, police said. When the officer asked for Edmunds' license and registration, Edmunds allegedly picked up a can of pepper spray, sprayed the officer and sped off.

Edmunds also has been charged with burglary and forgery in Sanpete County, court records show.

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