The man accused of kidnapping 12-year-old Brittany Mae Smith agreed today to return to Virginia to face charges of kidnapping and credit card fraud.
Jeffrey Scott Easley, 32, waived his extradition at a court hearing in San Francisco, Calif. The hearing lasted just minutes and no charges of murder were mentioned, despite Easley being named a suspect in the murder of Brittany's mother. Virginia police found the body of 41-year-old Tina Smith on Dec. 6 and later ruled her death a homicide.
Roanoke police will not comment on whether Brittany fits into the murder investigation, saying it's too early to comment.
"Easley is a murder suspect in the death of Tina Smith. So much of the past week has been spent trying to locate 12-year-old Brittany that really over the weekend, when investigators spoke to both of them, that's really when the murder investigation began," Roanoke County spokeswoman Teresa Hamilton Hall said.
New surveillance video emerged today of Easley and Brittany gassing up a car on Friday, Dec. 3, the day police believe Tina Smith was likely killed. In the video is a second man whose home police searched in connection with the murder.
Brittany was back home with her family today after being escorted from California by two Virginia detectives.
Easley and Brittany, missing for more than a week, were taken into custody last Friday after a California woman recognized Brittany's "big brown eyes."
Theresa Shanley spotted the seventh grader and her alleged kidnapper panhandling outside a Safeway supermarket in San Francisco.
"Because Virginia was so far away, I thought it couldn't possibly be her, but the brown eyes is what got me...her big brown eyes," Shanley said.
Shanley ran and asked a store clerk to call the police. Police quickly took the pair into custody without resistance.
Shanley said that she recognized Brittany after seeing her on cable television. Police first issued an Amber Alert for the girl on Dec. 6. When Brittany's mother failed to show up for work, police went to the home and found her body. They then learned that Brittany had disappeared.
The search for Brittany spanned eight states with police sifting through over 700 tips, but it was Shanley's alertness that made the difference.
"I am happy that she will at least be home to say goodbye to her mom," Shanley said.
Benjamin Smith, Brittany's father, spoke last night to reporters, saying he couldn't describe how grateful he was for his daughter's safe return.
"I thought that the happiest day of my life was when my daughter was born. Tonight has taken the number one spot," Benjamin Smith said.
The father, a police officer in South Boston, Va., was grateful to Shanley for her help.
"It's not anything that I could say to describe you the way my heart feels about you," Benjamin Smith said. "A simple thank you and God bless you."
Police Issue Warrant For Possible Accomplice To Easley
Brittany's father refused to comment on his daughter's alleged abductor.
A search warrant filed by Roanoke County police said that a Virgnia man named Adam McElvy "could have assisted" Easley in the murder of Tina Smith. Roanoke County police have searched a duplex looking for items related to the woman's killing, ABC affiliate WSET reported.
McElvy and his friend, Jordan McClure, bought Easley's red Chevy SUV Dec. 3, the day police believe Tina Smith was murdered.
Recently released surveillance video shows Easley, Brittany Smith and a man "similar in appearance" to McElvey filling up their vehicles at a gas station. Easley and a man that looks like McElvey are seen walking into a store together to pay for their gas.
The warrant states that McElvy and his friend originally gave investigators "inconsistent" information. Authorites said that McElvy is now fully cooperating with authorities and is not a person of interest in the murder of Tina Smith.
Police found items in the vehicle bought by McElvy that looked similar to things reported missing from the Smith home including a flat screen TV, a Wii gaming system and a DVD player, WSET reports.
The video of the three fueling up the cars was taken an hour after surveillance cameras caught Brittany and Easley buying camping equipment in a Salem, Va. Walmart. Easley allegedly used Tina Smith's credit cards to make that purchase.
That camping equipment was found near the California Safeway store where Easley and Brittany were found last week.
The 2005 silver Dodge Neon that belonged to Brittany's murdered mother was located near San Francisco International Airport.
Easley, an ex-landscaper, began an online relationship with Brittany's mother this summer. By October, Easley was living with the Smith family.
Brittany Smith's great-aunt Lois Choquette told ABC affiliate KGO that she first met Easley on Thanksgiving and was immediately suspicious about the way Easley interacted with the seventh-grader.
"He was touching her hair and touching her hands and just gazing at her," said Choquette. "It was like he wanted to consume her with his eyes. It was just gross."
New Surveillance Video of Brittany Smith and Jeffrey Easley
Choquette said she called Child Protective Services and a child abuse hotline four times the following day and never heard back. She also called the girl's mother to express concern, KGO reports.
Virginia's Child Protective Services could not confirm or deny that those calls were made.
Investigators have not given further details about the nature of Easley's relationship with Brittany. The middle schooler's Facebook page lists her name as Brittany Easley instead of her legal name. Her MySpace page's latest update reads, "Brittany Easleys what they call me."