Woman who helped kidnap Elizabeth Smart released from prison

FILE – This April 8, 2016, file photo, provided by the Utah State Prison gives Wanda Barzee. Appear in an interview Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2018, on “CBS this morning,” Elizabeth Smart said that she believes that Barzee remains a danger. Barzee is expected to be freed Wednesday after 15 years in custody because Utah authorities had miscalculated the amount of time that the woman must submit. Utah State Prison-via AP, File)

DRAPER, Utah – A woman who helped kidnap Elizabeth Smart, when she was a teenager and stood by the Utah girl who was sexually abused was released Wednesday after 15 years in prison.

Wanda Barzee, 72, quietly left the state prison in the Salt Lake City suburb of Draper, bypassing a crowd of journalists gathered outside, spokeswoman Kaitlin Felsted said in a statement that does not say where Barzee was going on.

Her release followed a surprise announcement last week that Utah authorities had miscalculated the amount of time they should spend behind bars.

Smart, now 30, said she was shocked and disappointed by the move and hopes Barzee will be closely watched and treatment.

Smart has recalled some of the horrors that she experienced as a 14-year-old when she was snatched from her Salt Lake City home in 2002 by Barzee’s husband, street preacher Brian David Mitchell. He entered the house through an open kitchen window in the kidnapping which gave rise to fear in the whole country.

Smart said last week that Barzee saw her as a slave during the nine months that she was in possession of the couple and encouraged Mitchell to rape her.

“So I have to believe that they are dangerous? Yes,” Smart said.

Smart, now a married mother and activist for the rights of the victims, posted on Instagram over the weekend that they are afraid Barzee and has taken precautions, but he refuses to let her release will disrupt the life she’s built.

“I lived in absolute fear and terror for nine months, regardless of the outcome, I will not do this again,” Smart wrote.

As a condition for her release, Barzee was placed on the Utah sex offender registry, but her address was listed online Wednesday when the Utah prison. Authorities did not immediately return messages seeking details about when the information is updated.

Barzee’s lawyer, Scott Williams, has said that his client has been diagnosed with different mental disorders, but he doesn’t worry about her being a danger to the community.

Federal agents have said Barzee not homeless, but refused to say whether Barzee will live in a private home or a facility. Her mug shot on the sex offender registry shows her with a wide smile, blue eyes and chin-length grey hair.

Barzee his niece Tina Mace from her aunt’s testimony against Mitchell seemed to be a turning point, but her mental state seems to have changed in the prison. Mace they’re not aware of any family members who would give Barzee a place to live.

Barzee will be under federal supervision for five years. They can be returned to prison if she violates terms that the mental health sector and for an injunction against contact with Smart and her family.

Smart was found walking with Barzee and Mitchell on a street in a suburb of Sand by people who recognized the abductors of the media.

Mitchell is serving a life sentence after being convicted for the kidnapping and rape of a Smart.

Barzee was dealt to the Utah State Hospital about five years after her arrest. She testified in 2010 against Mitchell and was given a plea deal on state and federal charges. She was transferred to the Utah prison in 2016 after completing a federal sentence in Texas.

The Utah Board of Pardons and parole in the first instance, a 2024 release date after Barzee decided against attending her own parole hearing in June. Her lawyer questioned whether the term included time Barzee had served in a federal prison. The council decided last week that she served her sentence.


Associated Press writer Russ Contreras in Albuquerque, New Mexico contributed to this report

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