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Police: Edmunds was running from investigation

June 26, 2002|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

Police believe Bret Michael Edmunds ended up in Berkeley County, W.Va., last week because he wanted to avoid the investigation in Salt Lake City into the disappearance of Utah teenager Elizabeth Smart.

There has been no indication Edmunds came to Berkeley County to meet up with friends or family members, Sgt. Fred Louis of the Salt Lake City Police Department said Tuesday.

"I think he just wanted to get as far away as he could. I think he just felt he was in over his head," said Louis, public information officer for the Salt Lake City police department.

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Louis said he thinks Edmunds, who on Tuesday remained in City Hospital near Martinsburg, where he was being treated for a drug-related liver complication, simply did not want to talk about the girl's disappearance.

Nothing more should be read into it than that, Louis said.

Police have repeatedly said they do not consider Edmunds a suspect.

Edmunds showed up at City Hospital last Thursday. On Tuesday, his condition was upgraded from serious to fair, hospital spokeswoman Brookeann Knotts said.

Edmunds remained under guard at the hospital and was expected to be hospitalized there for several more days, Knotts said.

U.S. District Court records show that among the items recovered from Edmunds' 1997 Saturn was a Washington state license plate, which had been stolen, Louis said.

In a press conference Monday in Utah, Salt Lake City Police Chief Rick Dinse said some "items of interest" were recovered from Edmunds' car.

According to court records, other items recovered from the car included a Bank of Ehraim balance statement, a Washington state license plate from the front of the car, a telephone book, road Atlas, a map of the Western United States, two Western Union receipts, miscellaneous paper, letters with an envelope and six latent fingerprints.

Louis said he did not have any information about the other items in the car. He said he did not know whose fingerprints were found.

Investigators also conducted a "forensic vacuum" of Edmunds car, which turned up "quite a bit," Dinse said at Monday's press conference.

Louis said he did not have information about the vacuuming of the car.

The items from the forensic vacuum will be taken to a lab in Salt Lake City for testing, FBI spokesman Kevin Eaton said Monday.

Until that testing is complete, Edmunds cannot be eliminated from the investigation, Louis said.

On Monday, Berkeley County Magistrate Sandra Miller issued a warrant charging Edmunds with being a fugitive from justice after federal authorities said they would ask a judge to withdraw a federal warrant for unlawful flight, Martinsburg Police Chief Ted Anderson said.

Edmunds is to be arraigned on the state charge in Berkeley County Magistrate Court after he is released from the hospital, Anderson said.

After he arrived at City Hospital, Edmunds' car was taken to the West Virginia State Police barrack in Jefferson County to be searched, Sgt. David Boober said.

It has been taken to a local towing company and will be available to Edmunds after he takes care of his legal issues, Boober said Tuesday.

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