Elizabeth Smart calls kidnapper is the release of “incomprehensible”
The kidnapping of survivor releases statement in anticipation of the release of the woman convicted in her 2002 abduction; Alicia Acuna reports on the surprise decision of the court.
Elizabeth Smart said Thursday that Utah officials should “strongly reconsider” the release of a woman who helped to kidnap Smart more than 16 years ago.
In a brief statement to reporters, Smart said that the decision to free Wanda Barzee had come as a “huge shock” and added that they believed that the 72-year-old remained a danger for her and for the community.
“She is a woman who had six children,” Smart said Barzee, “and yet it is co-conspired to kidnap a 14-year-old girl [Smart], and not only sit next to her, while the [Smart] raped, but encourage her husband to rape me.
“Yes, I believe that they are dangerous?” Smart asked. “Yes, but not only me. I believe that they are a danger and a threat to any vulnerable person in our community.”
Barzee is expected to be released from prison next week, 15 years after she pleaded guilty to helping the former street preacher Brian David Mitchell of kidnapping Smart in 2002. She was sentenced for both state and federal crimes, and was transferred to the Utah state prison in April 2016 after completing a federal sentence in Texas.
Utah’s Board of Pardons and parole had refused Barzee beginning of the early release after a June hearing, which she chose not to participate. She said that she had also refused to take a psychological exam and a release date in January 2024.
However, on Tuesday, the officials announced Barzee had served her full sentence after crediting her time served in federal prison.
Elizabeth Smart prosecutor responds to the release of the kidnapper
Smart, now a 30-year-old child safety activist and mother of two, acknowledged Thursday that “it seems to me that there is a viable legal assistance” to the challenge Barzee the release. But, she encouraged the family of the woman to take steps to have her committed to a psychiatric institution.
Attorney Scott Williams has said that Barzee has been diagnosed with various mental diseases, but that he is not worried about her being a potential danger to the community.
Mitchell is serving a life sentence after he was convicted for the kidnapping and rape of a Smart.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.