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Elizabeth Smart's Kidnapper To Be Released From Prison

Elizabeth Smart/Instagram

In 2002, the news of 14-year-old Elizabeth Smart's kidnapping made national headlines after she was taken from her bedroom in Salt Lake City and held captive at a remote camp for nine months.

She was kidnapped by Brian David Mitchell, who had done handiwork at the Smart's home, and his wife Wanda Eileen Barzee. Smart said she was forced to undergo a mock commitment ceremony with Mitchell and was both sexually and physically abused.

Smart explained that in public her abductors made her wear a veil and robes to mask her identity, and was forbidden to speak to anyone in fear Mitchell would go through with his threats to kill her and her family if she did.

She was rescued in March 2003, at a street in Sandy, Utah by authorities after a tip came from two witnesses who recognized Mitchell and Barzee.

In 2009, Barzee pleaded guilty to federal charges for her role in the abduction. The following year, she also pled guilty but mentally ill to a state charge of conspiracy to commit attempted kidnapping involving Smart's cousin, a month after they abducted her.

Barzee was given a 15-year sentence and under her plea deal, testified against her husband, who was later convicted and handed down the punishment of two life sentences.

She was released from a federal prison in Texas in 2016, and was then transferred to the Utah prison system to serve her other sentence, which were both running concurrently.

Barzee was up for parole in June of this year, but was denied early release. At the time, Smart took to Instagram to write about the event.

View this post on Instagram

It’s only 11:00am and today has already been an eventful day. This morning was the parole hearing for Wanda Barzee, one of the people who kidnapped and held me captive for nine months. The funny side of this morning was I got to the state prison once it was already over 😬, that was just due to a silly mix up. And the good news is she was not released. However what I find troubling is that regardless of her threat level she will be released in 2024, six years from now. It is possible that she could be paroled before then....hopefully not. I do not think I’m a vindictive or vengeful person, if change were truly possible in her case then perhaps parole/release could be justified. But I have recently learned that she is still carrying around a manuscript called,”The Book of Immanuel David Isaiah” and is reading from it. In this manuscript were the “revelations” Mitchell “received” from God to kidnap myself and 6 other young girls to all become his wives, it also “revealed” his other highly disturbing and dangerous ideas. This is proof to me that she hasn’t changed, and if the prior 15+ years hasn’t changed her I don’t see how the future years will. I will continue to pray that she will never be a threat to myself, my family, or any vulnerable person ever again. A lot can happen between now and the years to come so in the meantime I will continue to make my family my priority, working to advocate and protect victims and children, and live my life the best way I know how.

A post shared by Elizabeth Smart (@elizabeth_smart_official) on

"It’s only 11:00am and today has already been an eventful day. This morning was the parole hearing for Wanda Barzee, one of the people who kidnapped and held me captive for nine months. The funny side of this morning was I got to the state prison once it was already over, that was just due to a silly mix up," Smart captioned her Instagram photo.

"And the good news is she was not released. However what I find troubling is that regardless of her threat level she will be released in 2024, six years from now. It is possible that she could be paroled before then....hopefully not. I do not think I’m a vindictive or vengeful person, if change were truly possible in her case then perhaps parole/release could be justified. But I have recently learned that she is still carrying around a manuscript called, 'The Book of Immanuel David Isaiah' and is reading from it."

"In this manuscript were the 'revelations' Mitchell 'received' from God to kidnap myself and 6 other young girls to all become his wives, it also 'revealed' his other highly disturbing and dangerous ideas. This is proof to me that she hasn’t changed, and if the prior 15+ years hasn’t changed her I don’t see how the future years will. I will continue to pray that she will never be a threat to myself, my family, or any vulnerable person ever again."

"A lot can happen between now and the years to come so in the meantime I will continue to make my family my priority, working to advocate and protect victims and children, and live my life the best way I know how."

Although it was believed Barzee's sentence would continue through January 2024, the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole released a statement, admitting they had miscalculated the total number of years she spent in prison.

"Upon further review and advice from legal counsel, the Board must count time spent in federal custody toward Ms. Barzee's state sentence. Therefore Ms. Barzee's state sentence ends on September 19, 2018."

Smart released her own statement according to local TV station KSL, and said it's "incomprehensible" Barzee would be released so soon.

"It is incomprehensible how someone who has not cooperated with her mental health evaluations or risk assessments and someone who did not show up to her own parole hearing can be released into our community," Smart said.

"I appreciate the support, love and concern that has already been expressed and will work diligently to address the issue of Barzee's release as well as to ensure changes are made moving forward to ensure this doesn't happen to anyone else in the future."

Since Smart's horrifying ordeal, she completed high school and earned a music degree from Brigham Young University.

She's turned tragedy into triumph and has become a mother, an author, TV correspondent, motivational speaker, and a fierce child safety activist.

[H/T: PEOPLE, CNN]

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