SALT LAKE CITY – A woman convicted of helping a former street preacher of kidnapping then-Utah teenager Elizabeth Smart from her Salt Lake City home in 2002 has been denied early parole.
The decision announced Monday night by the Utah Board of Pardons and parole was expected after Wanda Barzee, 72, refused to attend her hearing in the last month before the state parole board that could have helped her out of the prison for its scheduled release on Jan. 29, 2024.
Barzee has also refused to undergo a psychological evaluation, she would need to be asked.
The board of directors in the place of a new hearing for January 2023, said in the decision that it would consider an earlier date if Barzee is taking the mental health of the evaluation.
Smart, now 30, refused to comment on the decision by a spokesman. She said after the June 12 hearing that she worried that Barzee is not changed after learning that Barzee is still around a manuscript, containing the revelations, the former street preacher, Brian David Mitchell, said he received from God, allowing him to kidnap Smart. She said that the manuscript also contains other “disturbing and dangerous ideas.” She would not say how they know Barzee the book.
Smart’s abduction from her bedroom at knifepoint by a man who came in through an open kitchen window, triggered waves of anxiety among parents everywhere. The frantic search for Smart and the mystery that put her in the spell of the country.
She was found nine months later, while walking with Barzee and Mitchell on a street in the suburb of Sandy, Utah, by people who recognized the couple from messages in the media as suspects in the Smart kidnapping.
Mitchell is serving a life sentence after being convicted for the kidnapping and rape of a Smart. He and Barzee were married at one point.
For the kidnapping, the Smart family had paid Mitchell to do handyman work on the house after running to him in the center of Salt Lake City and thought he was just a man down on his luck.
Smart, who is married with two children and pregnant with a third, has written a book about the horrific ordeal and recently helped make a Lifetime movie and a documentary about the crime and her life. She is now a child safety activist who lectures regularly.
She posted this week on her Instagram account about how she has learned not to focus on the negative things that you feel life is unfair and realized that bad things often lead to “knowledge, compassion, understanding, empathy, love, healing, and change.”
“Looking back, I can honestly say it was the worst experience I have ever dealt with and I hope that no one ever goes through it again, but I’m also grateful that it happened to me for what it has taught me and allowed me to be a part of, and for making me into the person I am now,” Smart wrote.