Elizabeth Smart kidnapper to be free
One of Elizabeth Smart’s kidnappers, the 72-year-old Wanda Barzee, is released from Utah prison because the parole board failed to give her credit for the time served in federal prison.
Elizabeth Smart on Tuesday blasted in anticipation of the release of one of her abductors, calling it “incomprehensible” and she says that she was surprised and disappointed.
Wanda Barzee, was sentenced for her role in Smart’s kidnapping of more than 16 years ago, will be released from Utah prison next week after a surprise reversal by the state from the parole board.
The Utah Board of Pardons and parole announced Tuesday that the 72-year-old Barzee would be released on Sept. 19 because the council had failed to give her credit for the time served in federal prison.
The parole board previously denied Barzee an early release after a relapse of her eight years in federal prison as time served on state charges.
“Upon further investigation and advice of the legal adviser of the board of directors must count the time spent in federal custody in the direction of Mrs. Barzee is the sentence,” Greg Johnson of the Utah council said in a letter.
Smart, now 30, said in a statement that she was surprised and disappointed to learn of Barzee’s imminent release.
“It is incomprehensible how someone who has not worked with her mental health evaluations or risk assessments, and a number that do not show up to her own parole hearing can be released in our community,” Smart said in a statement released just hours after the decision of the board is made public. “I try to understand how and why this has happened and exploring possible options.”
She said that she would speak publicaly about Barzee release in the next days, as soon as they “have a better understanding.”
“I really appreciate the support, love and care that has already come up and will work hard to resolve the issue of Barzee the release to ensure that changes are made moving forward to ensure that this does not happen to someone else in the future,” Smart added.
In June 2002, when she was just 14, Smart was kidnapped at knifepoint from her bedroom in Salt Lake City by Barzee and her husband, Brian Mitchell.
Smart was found nine months later, while walking with Barzee and Mitchell on a street in the suburb of Sandy; people had recognized the couple from messages in the media.
The couple was arrested in 2003 and Barzee pleaded guilty in federal court in November 2009. Three months later, she pleaded guilty to the state charges for an attempted kidnapping in connection to a plot to kidnap Smart’s cousin about a month after Barzee and Mitchell nabbed Smart.
In May 2010, Barzee was sentences of one to 15 years in a state prison for the aggravated kidnapping as a second-degree felony.
Barzee back to Utah in 2016, after the completion of her federal sentence in Texas and began her Utah prison.
In June, the parole board calculated her sentence would remain until January 2024, but that did not take into account time served in federal prison.
Mitchell is that two life term sentences in federal prison for the kidnapping and sexual assault.
Smart, now married, with two children, has written a book about the horrific ordeal and helped make a Lifetime movie and a documentary about the crime and her life. She is now a child safety activist.
Lucia I. Suarez Sang a Reporter for FoxNews.com. Follow her on Twitter @luciasuarezsang