Search for Baby Gabriel: Deception Fueling Frustration as Cops Track Leads

Mother extradited and charged with kidnapping; tips lead FBI to Nashville.

Jan. 11, 2010— -- An Arizona mother accused of hiding her infant son from his father on a cross-country trip has been charged with kidnapping and child abuse, and she has still not told police where she left the baby or whether he's even still alive.

Elizabeth Johnson, 23, was extradited to Arizona, and investigators are now looking at another couple who had been in talks to possibly adopt Johnson's son, Gabriel, as persons of interest.

Though Gabriel was last seen by witnesses in San Antonio, the FBI went to Nashville, Tenn., to investigate leads that did not, authorities said, turn up evidence on Gabriel's whereabouts.

Though the baby's father, Logan McQueary, has said he received text messages from Johnson saying that she killed their son after he refused to sign paperwork terminating his parental rights, Johnson told a Phoenix television station that she simply gave the baby to an unknown couple in a San Antonio park.

It was a story she also relayed to Tammi and Jack Smith, the couple who said they were ready to adopt Gabriel from Johnson before she fled. They denied knowing where Gabriel was being kept, but police believe they may be hiding information.

The two took lie detector tests last week, but police have not yet publicized the results.

Though the couple had initially stuck by Johnson, they told "Good Morning America" today that they are now starting to doubt the young mother.

"I feel like a fool," Tammi Smith said.

"Stop whatever charade is being played," Jack Smith added. "Tell them where the baby is, and let's get back to our normal lives."

Last week, McQueary appeared on "Good Morning America" and begged for Gabriel's return.

"Please, do the right thing and turn him over. Don't worry about getting in trouble or anything like that," McQueary pleaded. "Please. I want my son back."

Johnson Denies Harming Son

Johnson, 23, of Tempe, Ariz., was arrested Dec. 29 in Miami Beach without Gabriel and was initially charged only with interfering with custody.

"We are receiving some indications that Gabriel is still alive, and we're very optimistic about that," Tempe Police Sgt. Steve Carbajal told "Good Morning America" last week.

In a jailhouse interview this week with a Phoenix CBS affiliate, Johnson denied harming their son, saying she told McQueary she had killed Gabriel to get back at him.

"He had ruined my life, and he hurt me, and I wanted to hurt him," she said. "And that was the only thing I could say that would hurt him."

She claimed in the same interview that she didn't know anything about the couple she left her son with, other than that they seemed trustworthy.

Cops: Couple Claiming to Be Gabriel's Adoptive Parents Have No Rights to Child

Johnson's grandfather, Bob Johnson, told ABC News that he doesn't believe his granddaughter's story that she simply left her child with an unknown couple.

"I think that she has given the baby to somebody, and I think she knows who it is," he said. "I think it's in San Antonio in somebody else's house, and she just ain't given it up.

"She has an anger-management problem, and she's working on that," Bob Johnson said.

A search of Johnson's car -- found by the FBI last Tuesday in San Antonio -- yielded no obvious clues or evidence of violence, police say.

Motherhood was never really Johnson's strong suit, Bob Johnson said.

"She discovered after eight months that there's more to this parenting than she wanted to get involved in," he said. "It was not her thing. She was into fashion."

Police have searched the Smiths' home but found no clues to indicate where Gabriel might be.

Carbajal told "Good Morning America" that Tammi and Jack Smith have no legal right to the child.

"We want to be clear that the court has made a determination here in Arizona that Logan is the father," he said. "Logan has stated numerous times that his desire is to raise his son Gabriel."

McQueary has charged that the Smiths pressured him into giving up the rights to his child.

"When Gabriel disappeared, they said, basically, 'You know, if you care about your son and you want him back, you will sign the paperwork and she will bring him back to us and you will know that he is safe,'" McQueary said.

The Smiths denied that accusation and said they were simply passing on that message from Johnson and that they told McQueary they knew such papers wouldn't hold up because he signed them under duress, though it might bring the baby back.

"The father and Jack and I were in constant contact when we found out Elizabeth fled with the baby," Tammi Smith said. "When we finally got to speak to Elizabeth, she was so angry with the whole situation and told me, 'I have one message to give to Logan.'"

That message, Smith said, was sign the papers and the baby will be brought back.

Anyone with information about Gabriel Johnson is asked to call the Tempe Police Department at 480-350-8311.