The family of Alisa Maier, the little girl who was abducted on July 5 and then found wandering the streets in St. Louis County, Missouri, spoke to Meredith Vieira on MSNBC's "Today" about their emotional rollercoaster ride surrounding Alisa's abduction and rescue.
"I can't explain how it felt [to know she was safe]," said David Maier, Alisa's father. "They told us [they'd found Alisa] at about 10:30. the FBI came and showed me a picture on a BlackBerry of her lying in a hospital bed. They asked me to walk outside, they wanted to show me something. I was expecting the worst. When they showed me the picture of her in the hospital bed... smiling, I said 'Let's go [to the hospital.]" The family drove to St. Louis that night to pick up their daughter.
When Alisa's grandfather, Roy Harrison, was told of her safe recovery, he did a somersault. "I had tried to do a back-flip," he said, "but I'm too dad-gum old." Harrison used to be a corrections officer, so he knew all too well what could have happened to his granddaughter. "I've dealt with a lot of bad people. It's beyond imagination what can happen."
Counselors and doctors who have examined Alisa see no evidence of trauma or abuse so far. Alisa's family have made the decision not to push Alisa into sharing details about her kidnapping.
Alisa's suspected abductor, Paul Serling Smith, shot himself to death on Wednesday as police officers approached his house. He was a sex offender who'd served 15 years in prison for molesting a 10-year-old boy in 1995. He'd been released from prison just two weeks ago.
Inside Smith's house, police found a gun that had been used to shoot and kill an auto shop owner just days before Alisa was kidnapped. Police are still determining if Smith was the one who shot the man.
See video of the "Today" interview here.