The Salt Lake Tribune, Mar. 18, 2003
BY MICHAEL VIGH and KEVIN CANTERA, THE SALT LAKE TRIBUNE
Accused Elizabeth Smart kidnapper Brian David Mitchell proposed marriage to a 20-year-old woman two years ago, telling her God wanted her to become his plural wife and join him and wife Wanda Barzee in the rugged foothills east of Salt Lake City.
“You are the only woman that God sent us to . . . We are one, even as I am one with the Father,” Mitchell said in a four-page handwritten marriage proffer to Julie Adkison dated March 1, 2001.
Adkison, who was engaged, rebuffed his proposal, telling Mitchell he “was crazy.” She met Mitchell while working in the shoe department of a store at the Fashion Place mall.
Mitchell “was always hanging around and talking about what God had talked to him about [and] he was really into sandals,” she told The Salt Lake Tribune on Monday. She also was interviewed by police.
Also Monday, The Tribune learned that police, who had been unable to find Mitchell, expected to be able to interview him at April’s LDS General Conference, the semi-annual gathering of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Mitchell was a regular fixture among the Temple Square-area crowds, in his dingy white robe and wild beard. Police said Mitchell was reportedly at October’s conference, seeking converts to his doom-and-damnation style religion. Shortly afterwards, the Smart family went to police with their suspicion that the religious zealot had snatched the girl from her bedroom.
The family took the tip — from Mary Katherine, Elizabeth’s younger sister and the only witness to the June 5 abduction — public in February and Mitchell was profiled on the television show “America’s Most Wanted.” Expecting his return and wary of scaring him away, police suggested the show wait until after April’s conference to profile Mitchell again, said family spokesman Chris Thomas.
Instead, Mitchell and Barzee were arrested on State Street in Sandy shortly after returning to Utah with Elizabeth last Wednesday. They have been jailed ever since; both are being held without bail.
Salt Lake City police Detective Dwayne Baird said he could not confirm that police were waiting for Mitchell to visit Temple Square during April’s conference, but said, “This guy turned up in a lot of places downtown. He’s been everywhere.”
LDS Church spokesman Mike Otterson said he checked with church security and “no one recollects this character, Brian Mitchell, being around during conference time.”
Salt Lake District Attorney David Yocom said Monday that state charges will be filed by Wednesday at 5 p.m. He said a 3rd District judge gave prosecutors an extension of the usual 72-hour deadline for jailed suspects.
Yocom said Mitchell and Barzee will face several charges in state court, including aggravated kidnapping and aggravated burglary.
The U.S. Attorneys Office and FBI were still investigating possible federal charges, which are more complex, said Melodie Rydalch, spokeswoman for U.S. Attorney Paul Warner.
Baird said investigators remain puzzled that Mitchell’s facial hair and clothes do not fit the description offered by Mary Katherine.
She said the abductor was clean-shaven; photographs of Mitchell taken in August and October show a full, bushy beard.
Police initially said Mary Katherine described the abductor wearing white pants, a white baseball cap and a light-colored jacket. They later said the hat was a tan, golf-style cap, worn with a Polo shirt and a tan jacket.
Police have declined to comment on whether they have found the clothes worn by the abductor or the red pajamas Elizabeth was wearing.
However, KSL TV reported Monday that over the weekend Elizabeth pointed out to investigators the real campsite where she was initially held in the Dry Canyon area, just a few miles from her family’s home. The report said Elizabeth told police she was kept underground in a concealed hole covered with boards and dirt. In the hole, KSL reported, investigators found “an incredible amount of evidence.”
Also on Monday, Adkison provided investigators Mitchell’s marriage proposal, in which he alternated between his own voice and the word of God. “I have given [Mitchell] the keys of My kingdom on earth . . . When you look upon his weakness, see how he is made mighty and strong in me,” the self-proclaimed prophet wrote.
“You will be a great blessing and a light to the family you left and also to the the family that now seeks to find you and hold you.”
Based on Mitchell’s religious manifesto, a 27-page diatribe titled “The Book of Immanuel David Isaiah,” police theorize he hoped to take seven more wives in addition to Barzee, a plan that allegedly led to Elizabeth’s abduction.
Mitchell’s attorney, Larry Long, had a jailhouse conversation with Mitchell on Sunday. Long told KUTV that Mitchell still considers Elizabeth, now 15, his wife and wants her to be renamed “Remnant Who Will Return.”
“He wanted me to tell the world that she is his wife, and he still loves her and knows that she still loves him, that no harm came to her during their relationship and the adventure that went on,” said Long, who declined to comment further Monday.
Elizabeth’s father, Ed Smart, and spokesman Thomas responded sharply Monday to Mitchell’s description of his alleged relationship with Elizabeth.
“Everybody knows Elizabeth was taken against her will. Whatever rationality he uses to believe otherwise, that she was his wife and that she loved him, is grossly mistaken,” Thomas said.
Quoting Ed Smart, Thomas added: “The definition of love is not kidnapping, coercion, assault, degradation and ripping apart one’s life of identity and self-respect.”
Tribune reporters Stephen Hunt and Linda Fantin contributed to this story.