Missing 12-year-old Brittany Mae Smith appears calm and doesn't express any alarm in newly released surveillance video of her with her alleged kidnapper, 32-year-old Jeffrey Scott Easley.
The video, taken Dec. 3 at a Salem, Va. Walmart, is the last sighting of the two in a week. In the video, Easley, wearing a white t-shirt, pushes the cart while Brittany walks close to him. Easley never appears to yell or grab Brittany. Brittany is never seen motioning for help. She helps Easley unload camping equipment while going through the checkout line.
Easley is seen talking on his cell phone while paying for the camping equipment. The two are stopped when their bags set off the security detector. They both remain calm and are allowed to leave the store after a Walmart clerk looks at their bags.
Police said that they have received nearly 600 tips but still have no leads. They're hoping that an appearance of Brittany's story on "America's Most Wanted" this weekend will lead to a break in the case.
Roanoke County police chief Ray Lavinder said that despite Brittany's seemingly calm appearance on the video, the lack of audio on the tape and the sometimes close space between the two makes it difficult for investigators to determine what the two are saying to one another.
"At times, there is space between the two of them, a very small space and you know you just can't evaluate what's been said, the threats that have been made," Lavinder said.
Lavinder reminded the public that Brittany is a 12-year-old child in the presence of a 32-year-old man wanted for questioning in the murder of her mother.
Yesterday, relatives of Smith, a seventh grader, appealed to the man suspected of holding her to let the girl come home safely for Christmas.
"Mr. Easley, I know you don't know me, but, sir, please let Brittany come home for Christmas," said Rhonda, one of Brittany's aunts, at a press conference. The women did not want to reveal their last names.
Another aunt said, "Jeff, we hope you'll do the right thing and bring Britt home. We'd like to have her back so we can say goodbye and make final funeral plans for her mom."
The search for Brittany and Easley now spans eight states and digital billboards in several of those states ask citizens to be on the lookout. In addition to Virginia, investigators in North Carolina, California, Florida, Alabama, West Virginia, Ohio and Kentucky are on the case.
Police issued an Amber Alert for Brittany on Dec. 6 after discovering the body of her 41-year-old mother, Tina Smith.
A coroner ruled the death a homicide. Police said that finding Brittany and Easley is key to the murder investigation.
"I think that once we locate Brittany -- and we're concerned about her safety and that's paramount in our objectives here -- once we locate her and Mr. Easley, I think that will open a lot of doors for us in the homicide investigation," Lavinder said at a press conference earlier this week.
On Dec. 8, Virginia police obtained a felony warrant against Easley for the abduction of Brittany.
"We're certainly pursuing him to execute this warrant," Lavinder said. "Never forget the fact that she's a 12-year-old girl in the company of a 32-year-old man, she's at risk and we're very concerned about her safety."
The chief also said that investigators believe someone may be helping Easley and Brittany.