DRAPER, Utah – A woman convicted of helping a former street preacher of kidnapping then-Utah teenager Elizabeth Smart from her Salt Lake City home in 2002, refused to attend a hearing Tuesday before the state parole board that could have helped her get out of prison earlier.
Wanda Barzee, 72, also recently refused a psychological evaluation that she would have to undergo in order to arrive for its scheduled release in January 2024, said Angela Micklos, a member of the Utah Board of Pardons and parole. She walked the short hearing at the state prison in the Salt Lake City suburb of Draper.
Smart’s abduction from her bedroom at knife point 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 the former street preacher, Brian David Mitchell, a street in the suburb of Sand by people who recognized the couple from messages in the media as a suspect in the Smart abduction.
Smart, now 30 and married with two children, has since 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 didn’t want to the seat Tuesday. But her father, Ed Smart, said his daughter is moved in and accept Barzee the final release. His daughter will leave to mental health professionals to ensure Barzee is not a threat to society, ” he said.
Ed Smart said that he was not worried for the safety of his daughter or his family, but said that he has concerns for others. He said Barzee’s refusal to attend the hearing, or the psychological examination seems to indicate that they had the same mentality when they kidnapped his daughter and kept her prisoner.
“It is Barzee as usual,” Ed Smart said. “I would hate for her to have the opportunity to do that again to someone else.”
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.
Barzee was transferred from the federal prison Utah state prison in 2016 in the service of her time for an aggravated kidnapping charges, said Greg Johnson, spokesman for the Utah Board of Pardons and parole.
Barzee’s lawyer during the lawsuit, Scott Williams, said after the hearing that he believes his former client should be released because they had agreed years, as stipulated in a plea agreement. Johnson said that the officials will be the archive of the court to assess that claim.
Williams said that he was not in contact with Barzee for about a year and don’t know why they did not attend the hearing or take the psychological research. He said that she was diagnosed with different mental disorders.
Although Barzee does not show up, the parole board will still take her case under advisement and issue a decision in the next two to four weeks, Johnson said. She was denied parole after her last parole hearing in 2011.
Barzee’s refusal to take the psychological exam or attend the session leaves her and the board of directors “guessing as to what her status is,” Micklos said.