Elizabeth Smart's father says letter may indicate writer has knowledge of disappearance

Wednesday, July 10th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) _ Elizabeth Smart's father said Wednesday he received a letter that he suspects may have come from someone with knowledge of his 14-year-old daughter's disappearance.

But Ed Smart also said he could not say whether the letter, which was postmarked July 3 and received Tuesday, was credible. It lacked solid information that it came from a person with specific information about his daughter, but was the first that seemed to be from someone willing to negotiate, Smart said.

``I'm just anxious to do whatever it's going to take to get her back,'' he said during a news conference. He appealed to the letter writer, who appeared to be an intermediary, to ``please correspond with me to give me a reason to truly believe that he truly does have Elizabeth.''

The father said police received a copy of the typewritten, unsigned letter by fax even before he received a copy in the mail. He declined to say where it was postmarked.

Police and the FBI did not immediately return telephone calls seeking comment on the father's remarks.

Police say Elizabeth Smart was taken from her bedroom at gunpoint June 5 by a soft-spoken abductor. Investigators have said a former handyman at the Smart home, Richard Ricci, is at the top of their list of potential suspects, but he has not been charged in the case.

Ricci, who has a long criminal history, is being held on unrelated parole violations. Ricci denies any involvement with the girl's kidnapping.

Kent Morgan, an assistant county district attorney, said charges accusing Ricci of burglarizing the Smart home last year could be filed sometime this week.

Earlier this week, Elizabeth's father said ``some things were missing'' from his home. He wouldn't say when he reported them missing or whether they disappeared during a burglary.