UPDATED MONDAY 10:15 p.m.
For the first time since the search for Brittany Smith began, the public is hearing from the 12-year-old's father. Benjamin Smith, who is a police officer in South Boston says he felt it was the appropriate time to comment with his daughter returning home on Monday evening. Smith however would not comment about Brittany's alleged abductor Jeffrey Easley.
The South Boston policeman was surrounded by family when he spoke to local reporters at the Roanoke County Police headquaters. He talked about how difficult the last few day have been for him and firmly believes without prayer his daughter wouldn't be alive.
"I thought the happiest day of my life was when my daughter was born. Tonight has taken the number one spot," says Smith, Brittany's father.
Smith said he was especially grateful to the woman in San Francisco who saw his daughter and called police.
"To Theresa Shanley my hero. It's not anything that I could say to describe how my heart feels about you," says Smith.
Smith thanked everyone from police to the public and the media for their prayers and help. He says the plan is for Brittany to head back to South Boston where he lives. The family's priority will be to get her through her mother's funeral on Saturday and follow up with counseling for as long as necessary.
Mr. Smith and other family members talked with Brittany by phone before her arrival in Roanoke. We're told they have not talked about her mother's murder. Smith says it was a surreal experience talking to his daughter by phone. To make sure it was her, he asked her to tell him what his dog's name was.
Family members say they are going to make this a Merry Christmas for the young girl.
UPDATED MONDAY 9:00 p.m.
Brittany Smith's father is planning on talking to the media Monday night.
Authorities in Roanoke County say Brittany's father, Ben Smith, is prepared to talk to the press around 9:15
This will be the first time Mr. Smith has spoken with the press.
He is meeting with the media in the lobby of the Roanoke County Public Safety Center.
We'll have more on what he had to say on News 7 at 11
"I'm a mom and I would hope that God forbid, that if it happened to my daughter another person would do the same," Theresa Shanley said in tears, as she talked to News Seven's Justin McLeod.
Shanley is the California woman who saw Brittany Smith and Jeffrey Easley and called 911.
Shanley doesn't normally shop at the Ocean Beach Safeway near Golden Gate Park in San Francisco.