New Information Released as Search for 12-Year-Old Continues - WSET.com - ABC13

New Information Released as Search for 12-Year-Old Continues

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Easley and Smith bought an Ozark tent like this at Walmart Easley and Smith bought an Ozark tent like this at Walmart
Easley's tattoo Easley's tattoo
Easley's tattoo Easley's tattoo
Surveillance video shows Easley and Smith at the Salem Walmart on Dec. 3 Surveillance video shows Easley and Smith at the Salem Walmart on Dec. 3
Brittany Mae Smith Brittany Mae Smith

Reporter: David Tate

(6:00 p.m.) Roanoke Co., VA - There are new pleas for help in finding 12-year-old Brittany Smith. The Roanoke County Police held two more press conferences on Wednesday.

They have now charged the man they believe she is with, 32-year-old Jeffrey Easley, with abduction.

As police continue tracking down tips and leads, they say they still have no idea where Brittany and Jeff Easley are.

They are searching by land, air and across state lines but have found nothing. Not even Brittany's friends have answers.

According to authorities, one of the most instrumental parts of this investigation is the news media. Investigators called in help from the county, state and school district to feed those working to get the story out.

Teresa Hamilton-Hall is on that team, serving as the Roanoke County Public Information Officer.

"It's a lot of work just from answering the phones to putting the information out on the website," Hamilton-Hall said.

They also help investigators shape the info released. Wednesday that information included investigator optimism that a 2005 silver Dodge Neon, with a spoiler, is the key to getting close to finding Brittany.

"We believe that is the only form of transportation they have at this time," Roanoke County Police Chief Ray Lavinder said.

Police are now saying that the two bought camping equipment last Friday at the Salem Walmart, including a blue 13X10 Ozark dome tent. Find the car, you may be getting close.

Police aren't just looking in Virginia- from Ohio to Alabama and east- Amber Alerts have been activated.

Finally, police believe the two have help. They also have a message for those that may be doing just that.

"The Code of Virginia states there are repercussions for a situation like that, and like I said, we would pursue those if we find someone in violation," Lavinder said.

That is just part of the information released with a goal shared among everyone.

Hamilton-Hall - 00:22 - "Our goal, our objective is to find a 12-year old girl. If we have to stay up all night, that's what we'll do."

Investigators also want to stress, to everyone that regardless of the outcome of this case to keep in mind that Brittany is a 12-year old girl. She is a victim and doesn't have the capacity to consent to anything, especially under the control of a 32-year-old man in a position of authority.

To view all the photos related to the search for 12-year-old Brittany Smith, click through the slideshow on the right.

Police have set up a hotline and a specific email for information. Call 540-777-8641 or email findbrittany@roanokecountyva.gov if you know anything at all about this case.

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(4:15 p.m.) Roanoke Co., VA - At a Wednesday afternoon press conference, police released new information on Easley and the Walmart surveillance photo that shows both Brittany and Jeffery walking out of the Salem store.

Police say they bought a domed Blue Ozark camping tent there, plus camping supplies. They are asking everyone to look for this tent not only in campgrounds but anywhere.

Lavinder said police have received about 330 leads, but still have no idea where Easley and Brittany are.

He said the leads suggest Easley could be seeking refuge in North Carolina, Alabama, West Virginia, Ohio or Kentucky.

Police also showed photos of Easley's tattoos. One they describe as a black tribal sign and the other a red star.

At the press conference, officials pleaded with Jeff Easley to allow Brittany to come back to attend her mother's funeral.

To view all the photos related to the search for 12-year-old Brittany Smith, click through the slideshow on the right.

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(11:50 a.m.) Roanoke Co., VA - A police chief in Virginia says he believes someone may be hiding a man who disappeared with a 12-year-old girl after the child's mother was found dead.

Roanoke County Police Chief Ray Lavinder also said Wednesday morning that a warrant has been issued charging 32-year-old Jeffrey Scott Easley with abduction.

Lavinder said at a news conference that Easley and Brittany Mae Smith seemed to "just drop off the face of the Earth" without much money, and that's why he thinks someone is helping Easley evade a nationwide search.

"I'm almost positive that someone out there knows where Brittany and Mr. Easley are. The weather has been very bad. They need food. Someone, if they are still in this region is hiding them. I am certain of that," Lavinder said Wednesday.

On Tuesday, investigators released a surveillance photo from the Salem Walmart. It shows Brittany and Jeffrey walking out of the store Friday evening, sometime between 8 and 8:30. Authorities say they used Brittany's mother's stolen credit card to shop.

Authorities found the body of Brittany's 41-year-old mother, Tina Smith, at her home in Salem on Monday.

Smith was Easley's live-in girlfriend. Authorities have ruled the death a homicide but aren't saying how she died.

Investigators say Easley came into Brittany and Tina's life after Tina and Easley began an online relationship over the summer.

By October, Easley had moved into the Smith home.

Investigators are now looking at how those relationship evolved, including Facebook and MySpace accounts that list Brittany Smith as "Brittany Easley."

Police have set up a hotline and a specific email for information. Call 540-777-8641 or email findbrittany@roanokecountyva.gov if you know anything at all about this case.

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