Talking to a reporter in 2013, kidnapping victim and rape survivor Elizabeth Smart recollects the conversation she had with her abductor shortly after he led her into the hills behind her family’s home.
At just 14 years old, Elizabeth was abducted from her Utah home one night in 2002 after a man broke in and forced her out of bed. The intruder warned her that if she attempted to make a noise, he would kill her family while they slept. Not wanting to endanger her loved ones, Elizabeth bravely followed his instructions and was led out of the house at knife point. They then walked through the hills behind the home and into dense woodland, and it was during this time that Elizabeth came to recognise her captor. Just months prior to her kidnap, Elizabeth and her mum had given $5 to this man after they saw him begging on the streets, and they even offered him some work. His name was Brian David Mitchell.
Mitchell took her to a temporary camp built deep into the woods, which is where she met his co-conspirator for the first time: Wanda Ileen Barzee. Elizabeth was led into a tent, where Mitchell began performing a wedding ceremony and announced that the young girl was now his wife. Proceeding this, he pushed her onto the ground and raped her. For the next 9 months until her discovery, Elizabeth was moved across the country while being starved, raped and forced to consume illicit substances on what she described as an almost daily basis.
In March 2003, after convincing her captors to return to Utah, Elizabeth Smart was finally rescued. She had even persuaded her captors to hitch-hike in the hopes that somebody would recognise her as a missing person. One citizen did recognise Mitchell and Barzee suspiciously escorting a young child dressed in robes and a veil. Police immediately responded to the call, and the kidnappers were caught and subsequently arrested. Brian Mitchell, now 63 years old, spent 6 six years in a psychiatric institution and is now serving a life sentence as a federal prisoner. Wanda Barzee, now 70 years old, was given 15 years for her involvement.