Elizabeth Smart's kidnapper to be released

Blanche Robertson
September 16, 2018

SALT LAKE CITY Once an accomplished organ player in Salt Lake City, Wanda Barzee became a disturbing figure for members of her own family after she helped in the 2002 kidnapping of then-teenager Elizabeth Smart.

If Barzee had shown more clear signs of rehabilitation, she would likely feel differently about her release, Smart said.

Utah's Board of Pardons and Parole had denied Barzee early parole following a June hearing, which she chose not to attend.

Attorney Scott Williams has said Barzee has been diagnosed with several mental illnesses, but he's not concerned about her being a danger to the community.

And details of the crime still horrify Barzee's niece, Tina Mace. "And yet co-conspired to kidnap a 14-year-old girl [Smart], and not only sit next to her while [Smart was] being raped, but encourage her husband to rape me".

"She is a woman who had six children", Smart said of the 72-year-old Barzee, as reported by Fox News.

Barzee pleaded guilty to helping a former street preacher kidnap Smart in 2002 and keep her captive for nine months before the girl was found and rescued.

In a powerful few words to the press this week, Smart explained that the decision to free Barzee would be a huge mistake.

During her captivity, Smart was forced to participate in a wedding ceremony to join Brian and Wanda in a "polygamous marriage".

"It just makes you ill".

"So, do I believe that she is risky?" she continued.

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"We could be incarcerating someone indefinitely who has served their sentence", she said. While there is a need to protect the public, inmates also have the right to refuse treatment.

Repeat violent sex offenders can be civilly committed in the federal system, but that requires a series of evaluations and a judge's decision that they pose an imminent risk, Anderson said.

Barzee's lawyer has maintained she's not a threat.

As CrimeOnline previously reported, Smart was raped nearly daily by Mitchell.

She was treated at the Utah State Hospital for about five years following her arrest, and testified in 2010 against Mitchell.

Barzee has spent the past 15 years behind bars.

When she was just 14, Smart, now 30, was taken from her Salt Lake City, Utah, home by Brian David Mitchell and held captive in a wooded area for months, enduring daily rape and other horrific forms of abuse.

In 2011, Mitchell was sentenced to life in prison.

Looking back on the captivity, Smart said Thursday that she believes the older woman who treated her as a "handmaiden" and a "slave" was manipulated by her husband at times.

"I would urge the powers that be, and anyone who works under them, to really, strongly reconsider this situation, to look at all the facts, look at her mental status, and see if they really and honestly truly feel like she is no longer a threat and that she is ready to be released."

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