Elizabeth Smart’s uncle criticizes police probe

New book mentions incidents that allegedly impeded investigation into her disappearance

Elizabeth Smart’s uncle has faulted the police investigation into her disappearance in a new book, claiming the teen would still be a kidnap victim if the family had not gotten involved.

“I don’t think she would be back,” Tom Smart said. “There’s five or six things that had to happen, and all those things, thank God, happened, including help from the community, which raised awareness to find Elizabeth.”

The book, “In Plain Sight: The Startling Truth Behind the Elizabeth Smart Investigation,” went on sale Monday.

Elizabeth was allegedly kidnapped from her home in June 2002 and found nine months later in the Salt Lake suburb of Sandy, walking down a street with Brian David Mitchell and Wanda Barzee. Mitchell is accused of taking Smart into the foothills near her home to keep her as his second wife.

While grateful for the “tireless efforts” of law enforcement, Tom Smart and co-author Lee Benson claim that in August 2002, two months after Elizabeth disappeared, police were alerted by a caller who thought he had spotted Elizabeth at a library.

An officer allegedly checked out a homeless man wearing robes and his two female companions, one a young girl behind a veil.

“Are you Elizabeth Smart?” the officer asked the young girl, the book says.

“No, I’m Augustine Marshall,” the girl replied, according to the book. Without asking for identification, the detective walked away, the authors say.

Tom Smart said the book shows why focusing on a particular theory or suspect, such as one-time “person of interest” Richard Ricci, can be damaging. Ricci had done work for the Smarts, and the investigation centered on him for some time. He ultimately died of natural causes.

Police focused on Ricci even as Mary Katherine Smart, Elizabeth’s younger sister and the only witness to the abduction, said the former Smart handyman was not the man she saw come into the girls’ shared room.


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TheState.com, USA
Apr. 19, 2005

Religion News Blog posted this on Wednesday April 20, 2005.
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