There are few instances in our modern times where a young child has been so mercilessly tortured by hope and abuse. We often pray that our own children are able to avoid the terrible evils in the world, but sometimes the wicked come crawling in through the cracks of our homes.
The kidnapping of Elizabeth Smart first captured the attention of the country when we heard that a sweet, innocent girl had been taken from her home. However, as details of her captivity and repeated rapes started leaking to the press, the horror of what unfolded for Elizabeth and her family shocked everyone.
It all started in a quiet neighborhood in Salt Lake City, Utah, where Elizabeth grew up with her five other siblings in a devout Mormon household. She was a shy child, obedient to her parents and intelligent, playing the harp was her favorite pastime since she was five-years-old.
Well-liked and close with her friends, everyone knew she would grow up to be a confident and strong woman. No one could have expected what was going to happen to Elizabeth, or what she would have to do to survive.
You might ask yourself what sort of a person would want to take a fragile child like Elizabeth from her home and put her through hell. In order to understand evil, we have to look at where it came from.
Brian David Mitchell was also born in Salt Lake City, and led a troubled childhood thanks to his parent's unorthodox rearing.
His father was a social worker and decided the best way to prepare his son for the world was to show Mitchell sexually explicit pictures when he was only 8, which led to his perverted behavior later in life.
When he was 16, Mitchell exposed himself to a young child and was sent to a youth detention center, sending him further into his emotional isolation.
He would marry at nineteen and have two children with his first wife, divorcing 12 years later amid claims of sexual abuse of his three-year-old son.
When Mitchell married Wanda Barzee, everything slipped off the rails. His religious views became more radical, to the point where he left the Church of Latter Day Saints to form his own cult, believing himself to be a prophet on a mission from God.
Growing out his beard, wearing white robes, and setting up encampments in the forests of Utah, Mitchell was ready for the next phase of his divine plan. He needed a new wife, and unfortunately for Elizabeth Smart, she wouldn't get to say no.