CBS News Correspondent Jane Clayson, who has been covering the Elizabeth Smart story for months for 48 Hours Investigates, says the return of the missing teen after nine months has set off great rejoicing.
"You walk around the city and people are honking their horns, they're high-fiving in the streets. They are so excited about this ending," Clayson said Friday morning on The Early Show.
"A neighbor told me yesterday, 'You know, the Olympics brought us together in one way. But Elizabeth Smart unified us in a way that nothing ever has been able to before'," says Clayson, who was an anchor at KUTV in Salt Lake City before joining CBS News.
After spending time over the past nine months with the Smart Family, Clayson says she "got a real sense of how strong this family is. Of how strong these children are.
"For the first time," she says, "I was able to speak with the children and meet them and sort of understand what they've been going through, through this ordeal."
Clayson said she admired the determination of Ed and Lois Smart, something she said she had never seen before. "When no one else wanted to hear the story again, it was Ed out there pounding the pavement," she said. "He would find Elizabeth. He would find her."
She had particular praise for kid sister Mary Katherine, 10, who shared a bedroom with Elizabeth and witnessed the abduction.
"You get a real sense…from speaking to Mary Katherine how sweet she is. How intelligent she is. And really, how brave she is," Clayson says.
"Every day for nine months, her mother told her how brave she was. That she was the bravest little girl in the world for doing what she did. She tried to go in and tell her parents what had happened. She tried to go to her parents' bedroom, saw the kidnapper in the hallway with Elizabeth peering into her brother's bedroom. And as you can imagine, scared to death, turned right back.
"But it was her bravery that in the end, of course, cracked the case. And she came forward with this name just out of the blue. 'I think it's Emmanuel.'
"And sure enough, it was."