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Family, Searchers Urge People Around Nation to Look for Missing Utah Girl

Relatives of a missing 14-year-old girl urged property owners Sunday to check ponds, ditches, barns, and wooded areas for any clues — saying they have faith Elizabeth Smart is still alive.

At the Smart family's Mormon church ward, Bishop David C. Hamblin considered canceling Sunday's regular service because he thought too many people would be out assisting with the search. But services were held as scheduled, and pews were nearly full.

"There's a need to be nurtured by the spirit," Hamblin told his flock after the sacrament of white bread bits and water were passed around.

Charles Smart, the missing girl's grandfather, told The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints congregation that life has been very good for the Smart family — possibly too good.

"Maybe I got too complacent with life. I didn't have enough to worry about," Smart said. "We've had a wake-up call. If there ever was any sense of complacency, it's gone."

Among the searchers, Smart said he has seen a "oneness of spirit" that heartened him.

"It didn't matter if they were members of this church or not members of this church. The love they expressed was immense," he said.

Bishop Hamblin said he was proud of ward members. He told them to prepare for a long and arduous wait for answers in Elizabeth's disappearance. He told them to rely on "hidden reserves of strength" to sustain them.

"I think we expect to go through life without any of the real hard stuff," Hamblin said.

Meanwhile, search coordinators sought to expand their effort.

"We have several thousand people involved in the search, but several thousand people are not enough. We need 10 million people," said Bob Walcutt of the Laura Recovery Foundation.

"Check your land, your ditches, your culverts. Look around your property and check any hiding places, your ponds, your barns," Walcutt said, appealing to property owners nationwide.

Police said they've still got no solid leads and again expressed frustration, a situation that hasn't changed significantly since Elizabeth was reportedly kidnapped at gunpoint from the bedroom of her affluent Salt Lake City home early Wednesday.

"We're following lots of leads but we have nothing promising," said police Capt. Scott Atkinson.

Cynthia Smart-Owens, the girl's aunt, said relatives think Elizabeth is alive and issued another appeal to the suspected abductor to set her free.

"The solution is to hold your feelings aside and send Elizabeth back to where she feels most at home," Smart-Owens said at a morning news conference. "Let her walk alone where someone can recognize her. ... Please let her go."

The girl's father, Edward Smart, said: "I know that we are going to find her."

A community candlelight vigil was planned for Sunday night at Liberty Park, one of the city's biggest parks.

Meanwhile, an air search and rescue operation was changed Sunday into an "intelligence-gathering mission," according to Jamie Guttierrez of Angel Flight, which provides charitable air services.

There were 11 volunteer pilots who took their planes up Sunday, down from 25 the day before. They looked for any clues that might help the investigation, though the number of weekend campers in nearby mountains made it difficult to locate anything considered suspicious.

"It's becoming a very expensive proposition," Guttierrez said. "Each one of those pilots is pulling out $300 a day from his own pocket for flight costs."

Search efforts also took another setback when two helicopters equipped with infrared-sensing equipment were diverted to help battle wildfires in Colorado.

The girl, described by friends and family as quiet, was taken from her home between 1 am. and 2 a.m. Wednesday. She was wearing short red satin pajamas. Police said the kidnapper allowed her to put on white canvas tennis shoes before she was taken.

Police said an intruder forced open a window at the Smart's home and woke the teen-ager and her 9-year-old sister.

The frightened younger girl waited two hours before alerting her parents, complying with the gunman's threat to keep quiet or he would harm her sister, police said.

The younger girl has not been able to clearly describe the man, telling police only that the kidnapper carried a small black gun and was about 5-foot-8, white, with dark hair, and dressed in a tan denim-type jacket and white baseball cap.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.