Criminal complaint filed against Tammi Smith in Baby Gabriel case

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by Catherine Holland and Natalie Rivers

azfamily.com

Posted on February 2, 2010 at 11:49 AM

Updated Thursday, Feb 4 at 11:57 AM

PHOENIX -- The Maricopa County Attorney's Office said Thursday that it has filed a criminal complaint against Tammi Smith, the woman who, along with her husband, wanted to adopt Gabriel Johnson, the Tempe baby who has been missing since his mother took him out of state back in December.

The criminal complaint accuses Smith of conspiracy to commit custodial interference and forgery.

ORIGINAL STORY: Smith posts bond 24 hours after arrest in Baby Gabriel case

TEMPE - Less than 24 hours after Tempe police arrested her in connection with the disappearance of Baby Gabriel, Tammi Smith walked out of jail, continuing to maintain her innocence.

Smith, who, with her husband, wanted to adopt Gabriel Johnson, was taken into custody Tuesday morning at her Scottsdale residence.

She was booked on charges of conspiracy to commit custodial interference, custodial interference and forgery.

That last count comes from court documents Smith filled out for Elizabeth Johnson, Gabriel's biological mother. According to police, Smith was not truthful on those forms. She allegedly listed her cousin, Craig Cherry, as Gabriel's biological father. Investigators said Smith also tried to recruit several people to pose as the baby's father.

"She [Elizabeth Johnson] refused to put his [Logan McQueary's] name down because of the fact ... I can't say why," Smith said after her release from jail early Wednesday morning. "I'm not going to say why on TV, but the courts will know why when I go to court."

Smith, who posted $15,000 bond, said Johnson was going to list a fake name.

"I didn't want her to put a fake name. It's not right to do that, to hurt somebody else's family. In the process, I ended up hurting my family and myself because I didn't want her to make up a phony name have have somebody get a knock at their door one day."

While Smith says police arrested her so they could interrogate her in an effort to get more information, investigators said that's not the case.

"We've been building this case and we've been working with several agencies, including the County Attorney that's going to be prosecuting this case later on down the road," said Sgt. Steven Carbajal of the Tempe Police Department. "We feel that we obviously had probable cause for the arrest. All the information we had led us to this arrest."

Police have considered Smith and her husband persons of interest in the case for a couple of weeks.

"Jack Smith is no longer a person of interest," Carbajal said. "Tammi Smith was arrested for the [above charges]... . Unless there's some new information we're unaware of, nothing will change on that front."

Investigators do not think the Smiths know where Gabriel is.

The couple vow to continue looking for the baby.

"Yes, I love this baby. I will look for this baby until he is found," Smith said outside Fourth Avenue Jail. "I will look for this baby the rest of my life until he's found. Even though it means bringing him back to Logan. Oh well. I'm still going to look for this baby."

Gabriel has not been seen since Dec. 27, when he was in San Antonio with his mother, who remains behind bars here in Phoenix. The 23-year-old, who was arrested on Dec. 29 in Florida, is not cooperating with investigators and has told conflicting stories about what happened to Gabriel.

Early on, she told the baby's father, Logan McQueary, that she killed the baby. She later told police she gave the child to a couple -- complete strangers -- in San Antonio.

Johnson fled the state with Gabriel after McQueary was granted full custody of the child in December.

Now that Tempe police have wrapped up what they can, the focus of this ongoing investigation will shift to San Antonio, where investigators are actively searching for the baby.

"Our main goal is to find Gabriel," Carbajal said. "We're going to assist San Antonio with what we can ... ."

McQueary is on his way to Texas, taking the same same route Johnson took to San Antonio.

He's in El Paso today, where he's is scheduled to meet with world-renowned private detective Jay J. Armes, who has a 40-year track record of solving missing-persons cases. Armes believes Gabriel might have been the subject of an underground adoption.

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