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Baby Gabriel Still Alive, Mom Tells ABC From Jail

Elizabeth Johnson Tells ABC News Gabriel is Alive, Says Jail Not That Bad


Elizabeth Johnson, the Arizona mother jailed after she disappeared with her about-to-be-adopted infant son, confirmed today in a brief jailhouse interview that 8-month-old Gabriel Johnson is alive.

Johnson, a striking 23-year-old, has been jailed following her arrest on kidnapping and child abuse charges after Gabriel disappeared on her cross country trip in which she allegedly sent text messages to the boy's biological father that she had killed their son.

"Yes I'm sure he's alive," Johnson confirmed today.

She was being visited by Tammi Smith, who, along with her husband Jack Smith, say they were in talks with Johnson to adopt Gabriel before he disappeared. The Smiths have been named persons of interest by Tempe, Ariz., police for potentially withholding information about the case.

The Smiths have stuck by Johnson, but recently told ABC News that they are frustrated and want Johnson to tell police what she did with the baby. Tammi Smith told Johnson in jail that she and her husband have been blamed for Gabriel's disappearance.

"I am so, so sorry about that," Johnson replied. But still, no word on where Gabriel is.

Mom Describes Mystery Couple Who Supposedly Have Her Baby

Johnson told a Phoenix CBS affiliate shortly after her Dec. 29 arrest in Miami Beach that she gave Gabriel to a couple she met in a San Antonio, Texas, park, but that she didn't know anything about them, only that they seemed trustworthy.

An ABC producer was with Smith inside the prison Wednesday as the mother offered new details about the couple.

Johnson said the couple is Caucasian, in their 30s. The man is tall with short black hair, and the woman is about 5 feet, 3 inches tall and has long blonde hair.

Johnson said the couple brought their own car seat and that they said they could keep baby Gabriel without anyone noticing.

Baby Gabriel's Mother Denies Hurting Her Son

Johnson also told ABC News that her time in jail has not been that bad. She has been able to see her lawyer every day and gets to spend time outside during her recreation hour.

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

They told "Good Morning America" earlier this week 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, the boy's father Logan 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."

In a jailhouse interview with the 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."

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."

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

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.

2010 Jan 13