• On March 12, 2003, 15-year-old Elizabeth Smart is finally found in Sandy, Utah, nine months after being abducted from her family’s home.

In the middle of the night on June 5, 2002, Elizabeth Smart, then 14 years old, was taken at knifepoint from her bedroom at her parents’ home in the exclusive Federal Heights neighborhood of Salt Lake City. . Her captor slipped into the house undetected after opening the screen of an open window.

Elizabeth’s younger sister, Mary Katherine, with whom she shared her bedroom, was the only witness to her abduction. She did not inform her parents until two hours after the incident, fearful that the man might come back for her if he called to alert them, and was initially unable to identify her sister’s attacker.

Elizabeth was taken to a rough camp in the woods just three miles from her family’s home, close enough to her that she could hear the voices of searchers, calling her name in the days after her abduction. . There, Mitchell, who calls himself Emmanuel and is a prophet of her own Mormon sect, is alleged to have sexually assaulted her.

After two months, Smart, who was forced to wear a wig and dress in a robe and veil, was taken to Salt Lake City and appeared in public, but she was not recognized.

From there, Mitchell and Barzee took Smart to San Diego, where they lived in a series of camps and under bridges. The group eventually returned to the Salt Lake City area, and just a couple of hours later, several people recognized Elizabeth.

They reported the sightings of her to the police, who immediately tracked down and stopped a car containing Mitchell, Barzee and Smart.

Most of the initial police investigation into Elizabeth’s disappearance had focused on another suspect, Richard Ricci, who had also worked as a handyman on the smart home. Serving prison time for a probation violation during the investigation, Ricci denied any involvement in the kidnapping.

The trail went cold after Ricci died in prison of a brain hemorrhage on August 30. Finally, in early February 2003, Mary Katherine Smart told her parents that she believed that another former worker at the Smart home, who called himself Emmanuel, might be Elizabeth’s captor, and the Smarts passed the information on to The authorities.

On February 3, believing that the police were not taking Mary Katherine’s advice seriously, the Smart family called their own press conference to release a sketch of Emmanuel. Several days later, a man contacted the police to inform them that Emmanuel was her disturbed stepfather, Brian David Mitchell, and that she believed he was capable of kidnapping.

In the days leading up to finding Elizabeth, the Smarts continued to criticize the police for not devoting enough energy to pursuing the trail.

When she was found, Smart, calling herself Augustine, most likely at Mitchell’s urging, initially denied to police that she was actually Elizabeth Smart. Undeterred, the police took her and her captors in separate cars from her to the Salt Lake City Police Department, where she was reunited with her family.

On March 18, 2003, after Mitchell and Barzee were indicted, Mitchell’s attorney announced that his client was considering receiving a call from God from Elizabeth.

Mitchell has since been reported to believe that Smart was his wife and that the young woman may have suffered from Stockholm syndrome during the nine-month ordeal, answering questions about why she did not try to escape even though it appeared she had presented several opportunities.

Police later discovered that Mitchell had also tried to kidnap Smart’s cousin several weeks after taking Elizabeth and added that crime to the list of charges against her.

Mitchell was declared mentally incompetent to stand trial in July 2005 and December 2006; Barzee, who filed for divorce from Mitchell in December 2004, was sentenced to 15 years in prison for her role in the kidnapping in November 2009, was released in 2018.

On May 25, 2011, after being found competent to stand trial in March 2010 and convicted that December, Mitchell was sentenced to life in federal prison.

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