This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.
Karen Scullin Reporting...One year ago today the family of Elizabeth Smart awoke to find their daughter gone. For the family, it was an unthinkable, impossible moment of horror. For an entire community, it was a harsh revelation of how fragile our children's safety can be.
The events of June 5th 2002 -- the emotions -- just about everything is crystal clear to Ed Smart and his family. No one in the family or in the entire community wanted to believe that a virtual stranger stole a fourteen-year-old girl right out of her home.
Before the neighborhood was crawling with cops ---
Before helicopters hovered ---
Ed and Lois Smart were frantically searching their home for their daughter. The early morning hours began with concern but quickly escalated to total fear.
"Ed Smart/Elizabeth's Father: GOING DOWN THE STEPS, CHECKING THE OTHER ROOMS THE OTHER POSSIBILITIES. AND JUST THIS HORRENDOUS EMOTION STARTING TO BUILD UP. AND THEN LOIS CALLING ME AND SCREAMING WHEN SHE SAW THE SCREEN, THE SCREEN CUT."
Elizabeth had been taken from her bed at about two o’clock in the morning. And at that time it was believed she was taken at gunpoint.
She wasn't far. Elizabeth had been forced to hike to a mountainside camp just above the Smart home.
If only we had known.
"Ed Smart: I KNOW THAT WHEN ELIZABETH WAS TAKEN, I DON'T THINK SHE THOUGHT SHE WAS EVER GONNA COME HOME."
The initial description of the suspect was nothing but a five-foot-eight male wearing a white hat.
Elizabeth was described as blond, five-six, wearing red pajamas. It wasn’t much to go on. And police knew it.
Detective Michelle Ross/Salt Lake City Police Dept.: “WE BASICALLY WANT TO RULE OUT EVERYTHING EVERY ONE AND EVERY AREA.SO WE CAN NARROW DOWN OUR CRIME SCENE, MAKES IT A LOT EASIER TO SEARCH."
But immediately the intense search was underway. Within hours--hundreds were searching, hoping, and praying.
Kim Thronson/Volunteer/June 5, 2002: “I JUST HAVE A LITTLE GIRL THAT'S TWELVE. SO I'D RATHER DO SOMETHING RATHER THAN NOTHING. IF IT WERE MY DUAGHTER, I WOULD WANT ANYBODY HELPING ME."
The later it got, the more reality set in that Elizabeth wouldn't be home that day. And we now know it would be for many, many days to come.
But nine months later -- the impossible happened again. But this time, it was good news.
Ed Smart/June 5, 2002 : “ELIZABETH, IF YOU'RE OUT THERE, WE'RE DOING EVERYTHING WE POSSIBLY CAN TO HELP YOU. WE LOVE YOU, WE WANT YOU TO COME HOME SAFELY TO US." "Ed Smart/June 4, 2003:SHE'S A WONDERFUL GIRL, SHE'S A STRONG GIRL, AND I AM SO HAPPY TO HAVE HER BACK IN OUR LIVES."
What a difference a year makes. Elizabeth is reportedly well aware that a year ago today was the start of her nine-month ordeal. But she is reportedly doing well as she and the whole family tries to get back to normal.