Reporter: Jennifer Waddell
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - No one knows what the Celis family is going through like Edward and Lois Smart, the parents of Elizabeth Smart. She was kidnapped from the safety of her Utah home at the age of 14. The Smart family lived through 9 grueling months of searching, worrying and heartache before their little girl came home.
KGUN9 reached out to Edward Smart who graciously talked with KGUN9, reliving his family's ordeal with the hopes of giving hope to the Celis family.
"I started by noting some similarities between the Celis case and his daughter's disappearance in 2002 - including the fact that there seems to be so little information. Smart told me, "It's so difficult. I wanted to know every lead, every info possible. There were thousands of significant leads that came in and somebody out there knows something and the importance of parents getting out there and asking for that help and for the captor to let her go, it's just, somebody knows something out there."
When we asked him how he would explain going through the process with a cloud of suspicion or doubt over you, he said, "I think that comes over any parent in this situation because too often it is the parent. So to cooperate with law enforcement, give them whatever they want to know about you so you can be eliminated as quickly as possible because as long as they are focusing on you, that's time and energy that could be spent on your daughter."
Edward Smart waited 9 grueling months before investigators found his daughter. I asked him how he held out hope for that long. "That is an emotional roller coaster. I remember getting phone calls that they found a body or bones. I had this impression that Elizabeth was still out there, we weren't going to give up and she was found thanks to America's Most Wanted. There are means, people care. I've always been encouraged by what a caring community will bring to the table and that's why it's so important, I understand parents have a hard time talking but the importance of being there makes all the difference in the world," Smart said.
Our interview wrapped up when we asked Edward what kind of personal message he might want to give the Celis family.
"Just that your daughter is really banking on you being there for her and it's so difficult. I watched my wife sitting on our sofa in the worst pain ever when Elizabeth was missing. It's so hard to get up and do what needs to be done but I would encourage the family to keep hope... and she's depending on them."