There's a mostly unspoken assurance that's palpable among the Smart family.

Although the fourth full day of the search for Elizabeth Smart concluded with no substantial clues, family members collectively still seem to feel that somewhere, somehow the 14-year-old is still alive.

"Elizabeth, if you can hear us, we love you," her mother, Lois Smart, said during a brief press conference Saturday afternoon at Shriners Hospital. "Elizabeth, we haven't forgotten, and we won't stop until you're home."

"That's what keeps us going — we just know that she's going to come home," added Edward Smart, her father.

The couple's appearance marked the first time they've spoken publicly since Edward was hospitalized Thursday night from exhaustion. Their comments capped an emotional visit to Shriners Hospital, where they personally thanked the volunteers who've continued to look for their daughter.

"We appreciate all that you've done for us," Lois Smart subsequently told a group of volunteers outside the hospital. "It's overwhelming."

In a first floor hallway inside Shriners, which has become the impromptu nerve center for Elizabeth's search, the girl's 75-year-old grandfather, Charles Smart, expressed similar feelings of gratitude for the community's support. He also exuded the same confidence that, in the end, Elizabeth will return to her home.

"We think that God should give her every chance to live," he told the Deseret News. "The reason that we believe it is because we have faith."

So, with the ebb and flow of hopeful leads and disappointing dead ends, the Smart family just keeps going — their only goal to find Elizabeth, their faith bolstered by the hundreds of volunteers who've shown up each day to find her.

"It's been one of the greatest inspirations that I've seen," Elizabeth's grandfather said.

Additional information:
Web sites:

Printable poster:

And it's not just the orange-vested searchers who continued arriving Saturday in droves to help search for the girl.

After a repairman replaced the kitchen window that was pried open at the Smart residence before Elizabeth was abducted, her grandfather tried to pay the worker.

"He said, 'Nope, I want to make my contribution,' " Charles Smart said.

President Gordon B. Hinckley, leader of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, visited Edward and Lois Smart on Thursday and pronounced a blessing on their home.

Elizabeth's oldest brother, Charles, 16, slept at home Friday for the first time since his sister's kidnapping.

Charles told the Deseret News he was in a room at the opposite end of the hall from where Elizabeth and her 9-year-old sister slept Tuesday night and early Wednesday. He had studied for his upcoming finals at East High School before going to bed at 11 p.m. He didn't remember hearing anything strange until his family woke him at 4 a.m. to tell him Elizabeth was missing.

"I just thought she went running," Elizabeth's brother said. "We just started yelling for her. . . . My mom walked down and noticed the screen was cut and she just screamed."

Earlier this week, Elizabeth's father acknowledged that he hadn't turned on the home's alarm system that night.

"I grew up in this neighborhood," Edward Smart said. "I was never one for locking doors or windows. I went down and locked all of the doors on the basement and the main floors."

But the man suspected of abducting Elizabeth cut through a screen in the kitchen and pried open the window to crawl in. After taking her at gunpoint from her bed, the kidnapper allowed Elizabeth to put on a pair of white, canvas Polo brand shoes, police said.

Elizabeth's father said he still can't believe he slept through it all.

"I can't understand how I didn't hear something," Edward Smart said. "When my kids get up at night I usually hear them."

Some family members say Elizabeth's parents were too exhausted to be able to hear anything that night. They'd just buried Lois' father on Monday after a monthlong death watch. Elizabeth had played the harp at her grandfather's funeral.

In a way, that passing now serves as a source of comfort for Edward and his wife.

"As we were laying down last night," Edward said Thursday, "She said, 'You know what, I really feel that my father is there protecting her.' "

Just one more reason to believe Elizabeth will be returned to them.

E-mail: [email protected]