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Posted at 7:43 AM ET, 12/ 9/2010

Va. abduction suspect bought tent, supplies

By The Associated Press

A man who disappeared with his slain girlfriend's 12-year-old daughter bought a tent and other camping supplies before vanishing, a police chief in Virginia said Wednesday.

Roanoke County Police Chief Ray Lavinder said at a news conference that authorities have searched extensively for the blue 13-by-10 tent that Jeffrey Scott Easley purchased at a Salem Wal-mart on Friday.

Surveillance video shows Easley shopping at the Walmart with Brittany Mae Smith, whose 41-year-old mother Tina Smith was found dead in her home Monday.

Lavinder said police have received about 330 leads, but still have no idea where Easley and Brittany are. He said the leads suggest Easley could be seeking refuge in North Carolina, Alabama, West Virginia, Ohio or Kentucky.

Along with the tent, police are searching for a silver 2005 Dodge Neon they believe Easley is driving. Late Wednesday, Florida authorities issued an alert saying Easley may be headed there.

Lavinder said an arrest warrant for Easley, 32, has been issued for abduction. Warrants previously were issued for credit card fraud and credit card larceny after Easley used Tina Smith's card at Walmart, police have said.

Lavinder said there has been no activity on Tina Smith's credit card since that shopping trip as Easley and Brittany seemed to "just drop off the face of the earth" with little money.

"I'm almost positive someone out there knows where Brittany and Mr. Easley are," Lavinder said. "The weather has been very bad and they need food. Someone, if they are still in this region, is hiding them, I'm sure of that."

Lavinder said anyone harboring Easley likely would face prosecution.

At the afternoon news conference, Lavinder pleaded with Easley to return Brittany so she can help plan and attend her mother's funeral.

"It's important she be allowed to say goodbye to her mother," he said.

Tina Smith's death has been ruled a homicide, but authorities have declined to say how she was killed.

By The Associated Press  | December 9, 2010; 7:43 AM ET
Categories:  Missing Persons, Updates, Virginia  
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