The Woman Who Kidnapped Elizabeth Smart Is About To Be Released … Early
The woman who aided her husband in kidnapping, raping, torturing, starving and threatening Elizabeth Smart 16 years ago will now be released next week, five years earlier than expected.
Wanda Barzee and her husband Brian David Mitchell kidnapped Smart when she was just 14-years-old from her bedroom in Salt Lake City, Utah, in June 2002. Mitchell, a polygamist and self-proclaimed religious prophet who referred to himself as Emmanuel, had been a handyman at the family’s house prior to the abduction.
Barzee and Mitchell held Smart in captivity for nine months in both California and Utah, performing a marriage ceremony between Smart and Mitchell. Bound by metal cables to trees “like an animal,” Smart was repeatedly raped nearly every day she was held in captivity and forced to smoke and drink alcohol. She was threatened that if she didn’t comply, the pair would kill her family, according to her testimony in Barzee and Mitchell’s trials in 2009.
She was finally rescued in March 2003 when a Walmart shopper recognized Mitchell from a photo he had seen on “America’s Most Wanted” and police approached Smart about her identity, which was concealed by robes and veils that she was forced to wear at all times. (RELATED: Photos Of Elizabeth Smart Just Surfaced- See What She Looks Like Now)
Barzee pleaded guilty in federal court to capturing and holding Smart captive at the behest of her husband. She also pleaded guilty in Utah court to attempting to kidnap Smart’s cousin in a similar fashion, a botched attempt to grab her from her family’s home. She was sentenced to up to 15 years in federal prison, a sentence she completed in 2016, and was serving another 15 years in a state prison in Utah. However, the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole has now slated her for release on Sept. 19 because her sentences were supposed to be served concurrently. Instead, she will be released and be under federal supervision for five years, according to The Washington Post.
“It is incomprehensible how someone who has not cooperated with her mental health evaluations or risk assessments and someone who did not show up to her own parole hearing can be released into our community,” Smart said in a statement on Wednesday.
Barzee accused Mitchell at trial of manipulating and coercing her to comply with his torture and schemes by brainwashing her with religion and convincing her that he was the prophet and she would be the “Mother of Zion,” according to her testimony in 2009. Despite this, Barzee’s sister Evelyn Camp, told KUTV that her sister still is immersed in Mitchell’s religious teachings and skipped her own parole hearing as well in June.
“Nothing’s changed,” Camp told KUTV.
Follow Vandana on Twitter
Send tips to firstname.lastname@example.org