FILE – In this April 24, 2015, file photo, abduction survivor Elizabeth Smart looks on during a press conference in Sandy, Utah. Wanda Barzee, a woman convicted of helping a former street preacher of kidnapping Smart in 2002, will be freed from prison more than five years earlier than expected, a surprise decision that the Smart called “incomprehensible” on Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2018. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)
SALT LAKE CITY – Elizabeth Smart said Thursday on the news that one of her kidnappers is released next week, was “a big shock,” but while they urged the authorities to reconsider the decision, they also conceded there is no viable, legal assistance for her to pursue.
Wanda Barzee is expected to be freed next week after 15 years in detention, including the time spent at the state hospital, after Utah authorities said they had miscalculated the amount of time that the 64-year-old woman must serve.
Standing on the steps of the Utah state capitol, Smart, now 30, recalled some of the horrors that she experienced when she was kidnapped from her home in 2002.
“She is a woman who had six children, but could co-conspire to kidnap a 14-year-old girl, and not only sit next to her while they raped her but encourage her husband to continue to rape me,” Smart said. “So I have to believe that they are dangerous? Yes.”
She said Barzee “saw me as her slave. She called me her servant. They never hesitated to make her displeasure with me known.”
Barzee is expected to be freed next Wednesday after 15 years in detention, including the time spent at the state hospital. Her lawyer asked if her release date taking into account the time she would be served in a federal prison, and on Tuesday the board agreed that she served her sentence.
Attorney Scott Williams said Barzee has been diagnosed with different mental disorders, but he doesn’t worry about her being a danger to the community.
“I only found out shortly before everyone else,” said Smart, who is now a married mother and activist for the rights of the victims. “And yes, it was a great shock. Some months ago I was on the way to a parole hearing and was told that she would never leave before 2024.”
Smart was abducted from her Salt Lake City bedroom at knifepoint by street preacher Brian David Mitchell, who came in through an open kitchen window. The kidnapping triggered waves of fear across the country.
Smart was found walking with Barzee and Mitchell on a street in the suburb of Sandy, Utah, by people who recognized the couple in the media.
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.
Barzee was sentenced for both state and federal crimes, and transferred to the Utah state prison in April 2016 after completing a federal sentence in Texas. They will be under federal supervision for five years after her release from prison.