In June of 2002, Elizabeth Smart was kidnapped from her bed at knife point by a man who said.. " Go quietly or I will kill you and your family."
The 14-year-old girl from Salt Lake City was found alive nine months later. Her ordeal at the hands of her perpetrator was horrific, filled with daily sexual assaults and terror.
Today, her father Ed spoke to me about similarities between Elizabeth's case and the abduction of the little Northridge girl on March 27.
Diaz: Ed, What advice would you give to this family from Northridge who have gone through so very much?
Ed Smart: "It's so important they realize what happened to them is not her responsibility. She is still loved by her family and friends. What happened is just one blip in her life. So much more for her to live for"..
Smart: "They will need to reinforce to their daughter that she is absolutely loved.. it was not her fault. Reassure her this is one spot. She still has her whole life in front of her. She shouldn't stay scarred by this one event that happened. (Smart goes on ) "What a blessing to have her back. I remember those nine months when Elizabeth was gone. Lois and I wondered what Elizabeth was going through. How would she survive? Here, they have been able to have her back in 12 hours…such a blessing."
Diaz: Here in LA, the focus is on apprehending the prime suspect, TOBIAS SUMMERS, who remains at large. He was last spotted crossing into Mexico.
Smart: " If he hasn't been apprehended, another little girl could be kidnapped and assaulted …"
(Speaking about Elizabeth's case)
Smart: "When you are able to empower the child, why they have to testify. in Elizabeth's case, to face him after the fact and say "You did this to me. It's your problem not mine." Smart continues " What she (Elizabeth) has done is so much more important to others, what she has achieved in her community. "
Diaz: So Elizabeth's testimony was empowering?
Smart: "Yes, so important that parents know there *can be closure to her and other victims."
Diaz: This case is unusual because the prime suspect does not have a history of crimes against children. Police say the pair of men went into the house to burglarize. And that suspect Summers took the ten year old girl at knife point just like Elizabeth was kidnapped. Sadly, the little Northridge girl traumatized and assaulted for 12 hours.
Smart: Unfortunately, people seem to be graduating one level to another…burglary to assault …burglary to kidnapping. We don't know how many times this perpetrator may have assaulted someone else. ….
Burglary is one of the biggest steps in getting to that point of assaulting a person. Predators go through steps before they ultimately get caught.