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Elizabeth Smart Case Finally Closed


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Many people know of the Elizabeth Smart kidnapping case of 2002 where 14 year old Elizabeth was kidnapped from her home in Salt Lake City, UT. She was held captive in an encampment shared by her kidnapper, Brian Mitchell and his wife, Wanda Barzee. She was held captive in abusive and harrowing living conditions for 9 months.Elizabeth Smart kidnapping flyer.jpg

Wanda Barzee had a rough connection with her family and had been accused of doing many unlawful things, while Brian Mitchell had a criminal record and many accusations of physical abuse, sexual assault, and drug and alcohol abuse. The couple claimed religion as their motives for everything, including their abuse, kidnapping, etc. The couple also changed their names- for said religious purposes, Wanda now going by Hephzibah and Brian by Emmanuel, claiming to be prophets of God. The couple also changed Elizabeth’s name in their books to be Esther.

During Elizabeth’s time being captive, Wanda and Brian took Elizabeth into public on multiple occasions, often under disguises of wigs and accessories or head scarves and veils. On one outing, 2 months after Elizabeth’s capture, at a public library, a lady called the police because of the three’s unusual and suspicious dress of full, floor length robes and facial concealment veils. When the police tried to speak to Elizabeth, Brian quickly shut it down by saying their dress was because of strict religious rules and beliefs and because of the beliefs, women could also not speak in public. 7 months later, in March of 2003, on a public outing, a couple recognized Brian Mitchell from a police wanted photograph. The couple called the police who showed up at the site. When officers began questioning Brian Mitchell and his accompaniments they recognized the missing Elizabeth Smart.

Elizabeth’s kidnappers were arrested and Elizabeth was returned home to a grateful family. The police began long, complicated trials for Wanda Barzee and Brian Mitchell. After 7 years, in November of 2010, Brian’s trail began but he was titled legally insane and therefore should not be found guilty under the plea of insanity. In December of the same year, the insanity defense was repealed, and  he was found guilty of  kidnapping and transporting a minor across state lines with intent to engage in sexual activity. He was sentenced life in prison with no possibility of parole in a high security facility. Wanda pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 15 years in state and federal prison, but due to mental evaluations and delays it took nearly 8 years for her case to come to court. In 2016, Wanda’s imprisonment was terminated and she was moved to a mental health facility.

On September 11th of 2018, news was released that Wanda Barzee would be released back into civilization. The news shocked the families of the now 72 year old Wanda and  30 year Elizabeth Smart. Authorities claim during Wanda’s time in a mental health facility her behavior and life stability improved and she was believed to be okay for release back to the public. Many people, including Wanda’s only children and Elizabeth believe Wanda to still be a threat and disagree with her early release. They believe she is still unstable and unreliable, despite polices attempts to convince them otherwise. Barzee will be under federal supervision for her first 5 years of release and has a strict, continuous no contact order with any of the Smart family. Failure to comply will result in her sent back to prison.

Elizabeth Smart has said to the public that she is taking precautions to protect herself, husband, and children but will not live in fear of Wanda Barzee anymore in her life. She has urged federal officers to reconsider, saying, “She is a woman who had six children and yet could co-conspire to kidnap a 14-year-old girl, and not only sit next to her while (she was) being raped, but encouraged her husband to continue to rape me. So, do I believe she is dangerous? Yes, but not just to me.” Elizabeth Smart, understandably, still feels unsafe for herself and others like her with Wanda on the streets 6 years earlier than originally planned. Wanda Barzee’s sister, who refuses to give her name, claims Barzee is unfit to leave prison. She believes her sister is “mentally ill, terribly mentally ill” and extremely manipulative with no where to go and a family who will not take her in after her release. Despite all this, Wanda Barzee will continue to be scheduled for release September 19th 2018.

 

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Elizabeth Smart Case Finally Closed