Man wanted for questioning in case of missing Utah girl caught in West Virginia

Friday, June 21st 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. (AP) _ Bret Edmunds, the drifter wanted for questioning in the abduction of a 14-year-old Utah girl, has been caught at a hospital in this West Virginia town, federal authorities said Friday.

Edmunds, 26, was captured after he gave inconsistent information to hospital staff, said Mike Claxton, a deputy U.S. marshal.

``He did not give them his correct name,'' Claxton said. ``He gave them a lot of information. Some of it was accurate. Some of it was not accurate.''

Edmunds was being treated for a drug overdose, Salt Lake City police Sgt. Fred Louis said. Martinsburg is in northeastern West Virginia, about 75 miles west of Baltimore.

Authorities have said only that they want to talk with Edmunds about the June 5 kidnapping of Elizabeth Smart in Salt Lake City. The girl was taken at gunpoint from her bedroom; her 9-year-old sister, Mary Katherine, was the sole witness to the abduction.

Authorities have said that Edmunds could be a witness and was not considered a suspect in the case. The transient, living out of his car, had been seen near the Smart neighborhood, where a milkman was able to partly recite his license plates, Louis said.

Those plates, stolen from another car, were found Thursday along a road 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 street in the neighborhood, and he took down a description of the vehicle.

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