Brittany Smith's Dad: "It's The Happiest Day Of My Life"

The 12-year-old at the center of a missing child case last week is back home and Monday night we heard from her father for the first time tonight before he headed to see his daughter Brittany.

Jeffrey Easley is still in jail in San Francisco where he and Brittany Smith were found at a campsite Friday. The former Ayden man is accused of abducting Brittany from her Salem, Virginia home December 3rd. Easley is also a suspect in the death of Brittany's mother, 41-year-old Tina Smith.

Brittany's father Ben called an impromptu press conference to thank the media and law enforcement for helping bring his daughter home. "It's the happiest day of my life. I'll be wrapping my arms around her and give her what I call a big old bear hug."

Two Roanoke deputies remain in San Francisco, pending Easley's extradition hearing scheduled for Tuesday morning.

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The father of 12-year-old Brittany Smith, who was missing for a week before being located Friday, plans to talk with the media Monday evening.

Police in Roanoke, Virginia say Ben Smith will hold a 9:15 p.m. news conference. This will be the first time we will hear from Mr. Smith.

Brittany was located in California last Friday. Former Pitt County resident Jeffrey Easley is charged with her abduction and a suspect in the death of her mother.

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A former Pitt County man remains in a San Fransisco jail after his arrest Friday night.

Jeffrey Easley was the subject of a week long search that spanned multiple states. The former Ayden man is accused of abducting 12-year-old Brittany Smith from her Salem, Virginia home back on December 3rd. The 32-year-old Easley is also a suspect in the death of the child's mother.

Monday police released a mug shot of Easley taken in San Francisco. It shows a clean-shaven Easley, very different that the photos circulated last week showing him with a goatee.

Smith is expected to arrive back in Roanoke late Monday night and will be released to her family. As for Easley, a hearing on whether he'll return to Virginia to face charges is scheduled to Tuesday in San Francisco.


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A 12-year-old girl missing from Virginia for a week has been found safe in San Francisco along with the man accused of abducting her, 32-year-old Jeffrey Easley. Roanoke County Police Chief J.R. Lavinder made the announcement at a press conference at 8:00pm Friday, and says it is a tremendous feeling to know Brittany Smith has been found safe.

Cheif Lavinder says his office received the call from San Francisco police about 6:00pm Friday. They told Roanoke County police Easley and Smith were found at an apparent campsite within walking distance of a retail store where they were spotted by a citizen who called police.

Lavinder says Smith has no visible signs of injury, and she is aware her mother is dead. The car they were believed to be in, a silver 2005 Dodge Neon has not been found.

Roanoke County Detectives will fly to San Francisco as soon as possible. Chief Lavinder thanked federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies and the media for all their help in finding Easley and Smith.

If Easley waives extradition, he will be flown back to Roanoke County immediately to face charges for the abduction of Brittany. If he fights extradition, it could be 30 days to months until he returns to Virginia.

Chief Lavinder said he is still not releasing details about how Brittany’s mother, 41-year-old Tina Smith was killed. He also says there are no additional charges for Easley at this time.


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Police in Roanoke County, Virginia say Brittany Smith has been found safe, and that Jeffrey Easley has been arrested in San Francisco.

Roanoke County Police have scheduled a news conference for 8:00 p.m.


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Virginia authorities say it greatly concerns them that a week has now passed and there's been no sighting of Brittany Smith.

Police have ramped up their search for the missing 12-year-old girl by putting her picture on billboards in several states.

They believe Jeffrey Easley, who used to live in Pitt County, abducted Brittany Smith last week from her Virginia home.

Roanoke County Police Chief Ray Lavinder said they've received more than 700 tips, but so far no solid leads on Easley or the girl.

Electronic billboards with Brittany and Easley's picture began appearing in five states Friday. Several of those billboards are here in Eastern Carolina where Easley grew up and went to high school.

The billboard here in North Carolina will be running statewide. In Eastern Carolina the billboards are running in Currituck County, Havelock, Goldsboro, New Bern, and Rocky Mount.

Since there are no billboards in Pitt County, WITN decided to change its electronic billboard along Highway 11 in Winterville with the message.

Police believe Brittany is with the 32-year-old Easley. The two haven't been seen since Brittany's mother, 41-year-old Tina Smith, was found slain Monday. Easley was Tina Smith's live-in boyfriend.

Virginia police also released Friday surveillance video from inside the Salem, Virginia WalMart where the two were last seen shopping last Friday. In the video the two are seen walking around the store with a shopping cart and the child does not appear to be in distress.

Police have said they don't know if Brittany knows her mother is dead.


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A former Pitt County man who is wanted for the abduction of a 12-year-old Virginia girl, has a criminal past in Pitt County. One of those charges involved the assault of a police officer.

Jeffrey Easley is the subject of a multi-state manhunt after Brittany Smith's mother was found dead in her Salem, Virginia home on Monday. Police say Easley was the mother's live-in boyfriend.

Click on the PHOTOS tab at the top of the story to see new photographs of the suspect and victim.

Courthouse records show Easley was arrested twice while a student at Ayden-Grifton High School back in the mid-90s.

The first time, in 1995, Easley was arrested for misdemeanor injury to personal property. He received one year unsupervised probation for that crime.

Then a year later the man was charged with assault with a deadly weapon on a government official, who was an Ayden police officer. Court records show under a plea deal the teenager admitted to a misdemeanor charge of assault on a government official and was given no prison time for the charge.

Roanoke County Police Chief Ray Lavinder said they have had more than 500 tips on the suspected vehicle, a silver 2005 Dodge Neon 4-door with Virginia tag XKF-2365. Lavinder says that car has a scoop or spoiler on the back.

Lavinder said Thursday that the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children is preparing to advertise the search for Brittany on billboards in North Carolina, Alabama, Florida, West Virginia and Ohio.

The chief said they have already checked local campgrounds for the two. Police say Easley bought a tent at the Salem, Virginia WalMart on Friday, but they doesn't know if the man is an experienced camper or not.

Two of the missing child's aunts made an emotional plea for Easley to allow Brittany to come home for Christmas and that she needs to say goodbye to her mother. Authorities found the body of Brittany's 41-year-old mother, Tina Smith, at her home in Salem on Monday.

Easley's brother still lives in Ayden and there was a noticeable presence of unmarked police cars in that neighborhood Wednesday afternoon.

A possible sighting of Easley in West Palm Beach, Florida turned out to be a false alarm Thursday morning.


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Virginia authorities say a missing 12-year-old and her suspected abductor could be in one of a half dozen states, including North Carolina.

Roanoke County police briefed reporters Thursday night on their efforts to find Brittany Smith, who is believed to be with Jeffrey Easley. The 32-year-old Easley went to Ayden-Grifton High School for three years in the mid-90's and his brother still lives in Ayden. No one answered the door at the family home around noon.

Roanoke County Police Chief Ray Lavinder said they have had more than 375 tips on the suspected vehicle, a silver 2005 Dodge Neon 4-door with Virginia tag XKF-2365. Lavinder says that car has a scoop or spoiler on the back.

He says Easley may be seeking refuge in North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, South Carolina, Kentucky or Florida. The chief says Easley bought a tent at the Salem, Virginia WalMart on Friday, but he doesn't know if the man is an experienced camper or not.

Authorities found the body of Brittany's 41-year-old mother, Tina Smith, at her home in Salem on Monday. Police say Easley was the mother's live-in boy friend. Lavinder says they are trying to estimate a timeline, which is critical to their investigation. But he says right now they can only estimate that the mother was killed on Friday.

The chief says if the two are still in the region that someone is hiding them. He says it has expanded to a nationwide search at this point.

Pitt County Sheriff Neil Elks says his deputies have been asked by Virginia authorities to help and check local locations. When WITN was in the Ayden neighborhood Wednesday there was an obvious presence of unmarked police cars in the neighborhood.

Chief Lavinder says so far they have had no confirmed sightings of either Easley or the young girl. Earlier Wednesday Virginia police issued a warrant for Easley, charging him with abduction.


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Virginia authorities say they've obtained an abduction warrant for a former Pitt County man who is the center of a missing girl search outside of Roanoke.

Police believe Brittany Smith is still with Jeffrey Easley, who used to live in the Ayden area. Roanoke County authorities say Easley still has family in the Ayden area and WITN News has learned the man attended Ayden-Grifton High School from 1993 to 1996.

Click on the PHOTOS tab at the top of the story to view pictures of the missing child and Easley.

Roanoke County Police Chief Ray Lavinder said they have had more than 250 tips on the suspected vehicle, a silver 2005 Dodge Neon 4-door with Virginia tag XKF-2365. Lavinder says that car has a scoop or spoiler on the back.

Authorities found the body of Brittany's 41-year-old mother, Tina Smith, at her home in Salem on Monday. An Amber Alert was then issued for the 12-year-old. Police say Easley was the mother's live-in boy friend. Lavinder says they are trying to estimate a time line, which is critical to their investigation. But he says right now they can only estimate that the mother was killed on Friday.

The chief says if the two are still in the region that someone is hiding them. He says it has expanded to a nationwide search at this point.

Pitt County Sheriff Neil Elks says his deputies have been asked by Virginia authorities to help and check local locations.

Elks says searches of those locations came up short. However, the new sheriff says it would not be uncommon for Easley to come through Pitt County since Virginia police say he has family in Ayden.

"When a person is on the run the first thing they think back for refuge-- where i can go to be safe, and generally you're right, a lot if times it goes back to their childhood, " says Elks.

Easley and the child were last seen Friday at a WalMart in Salem, Virgina after the man bought some items with the mother's credit card.


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A police chief says he's received no new leads in the search for a 12-year-old Roanoke County girl believed to be with her slain mother's live-in boyfriend. That man has ties to Pitt County.

Roanoke County Police Chief Ray Lavinder tolds CBS's "The Early Show" on Wednesday that police didn't receive information overnight that would be helpful in locating Brittany Mae Smith.

Authorities found the body of Brittany's 41-year-old mother, Tina Smith, at her home in Salem on Monday. An Amber Alert was then issued for Brittany and police believe she may be with 32-year-old Jeffrey Easley.

Easley's mother, Sallie Martin of Franklin County, pleaded Tuesday for her son to come forward.

Records show Easley attended Ayden-Grifton High School from 1993-1996. Pitt County Sheriff Neil Elks says his deputies have been asked by Virginia authorities to help and check local locations.

Elks says searches of those locations came up short. However, the new sheriff says it would not be uncommon for Easley to come through Pitt County since Virginia police say he has family in Ayden.

"When a person is on the run the first thing they think back for refuge-- where i can go to be safe, and generally you're right, a lot if times it goes back to their childhood, " says Elks.



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The County of Roanoke, Virginia put out a press release at 5:25pm Tuesday saying state and federal law enforcement are pursuing more than 200 tips generated in the investigation into the disappearance of a 12-year-old Roanoke County girl, Brittany Mae Smith, and a 32-year-old Roanoke County man, Jeffrey Scott Easley. Roanoke County Police notified law enforcement nationwide on this to look for Brittany, Easley, and the silver 2005 Dodge Neon they might be in. Easley has ties to Pitt County. He went to high school at Ayden-Grifton High in the 90's. Easley has family in eastern North Carolina and northeastern Alabama.

During a press conference this afternoon at the Roanoke County Public Safety Center, Jeff Easley’s mother, Sallie Martin of Franklin County, Va., made a tearful plea for her son to release Brittany and turn himself in. She asked him to come home and said that she is worried for his well-being. You can view video of the mother's statement by clicking the link below.

In addition, Roanoke County Police Chief Ray Lavinder announced a new development in the case in which investigators have obtained surveillance video of Brittany Smith and Jeff Easley at the Wal-Mart on West Main Street in the City of Salem. The video captured them purchasing various items at the store on Friday evening, December 3rd between 8 and 8:30 p.m.

In the surveillance video, Jeff Easley has a goatee and is wearing a white T-shirt and jeans. He has a tattoo on his right forearm. He also has a star tattoo on each of his calves.

Brittany Smith is seen wearing a short-sleeve orange top and jeans. Her hair is down on her shoulders and she is wearing several bracelets. One of the bracelets is a bright green rubber bracelet with yellow cursive writing. The bracelet is in memory of her brother who passed away last summer.

To purchase the items at the Wal-Mart in Salem, police say Easley used a credit card belonging to Brittany’s mother, Tina Smith. As a result, Salem Police have obtained two felony warrants for Easley for attempted credit card fraud and credit card larceny.

Roanoke County Police say they have been searching for Brittany Smith and Jeff Easley since Monday morning when Brittany’s mother, Tina Smith, was found murdered at their Roanoke County residence. Tina Smith’s vehicle, a 2005 Silver Dodge Neon with Virginia tags XKF-2365, was also discovered missing. Easley’s red SUV was located Monday afternoon in the City of Roanoke.

Easley had been living with Brittany and her mother since October. Easley and Tina Smith met on-line this summer and developed a friendship.

Brittany Smith is a seventh grader at Glenvar Middle School in Roanoke County. The school has organized a candlelight vigil for 7:00 p.m. Tuesday night at Highlander Stadium located behind Glenvar High School.

Approximately 50 representatives from Roanoke County Police, City of Roanoke Police, City of Salem Police, U.S. Marshals Service, U.S. Secret Service, FBI and Virginia State Police are working this case.


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Authorities here in Eastern Carolina are helping in the search for a missing 12-year-old Virginia girl and the man who may have abducted her.

Jeffrey Easley is listed as the abductor of Brittany Smith on Virginia's Amber Alert. He has family in the Ayden area.

The Pitt County Sheriff's Office says they have been asked to search for the man at two different locations by Virginia authorities.

The search for the girl began Monday morning after Roanoke County, Virginia police found the girl's dead mother inside their Fort Lewis home.

The missing girl is described as 5'0" tall, weighs 100 pounds, had straight brown hair and brown eyes. Easley is 5'11", and weighs 265 pounds. He may be traveling in a silver 2005 Dodge Neon 4-door with Virginia tag XKF-2365.


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