Kidnapped teenager reunited with parents

AP, Mar. 13, 2003

A 15-year-old girl kidnapped at gunpoint from her bedroom nine months ago has been dramatically reunited with her parents in Utah.

Elizabeth Smart was snatched from her home in Salt Lake City by a self-styled prophet for the homeless, who wanted to take her as a second wife.

Police in the Salt Lake City suburb of Sandy arrested Brian Mitchell, a drifter who once worked for the Smarts, and his wife Wanda Barzee.

Residents had spotted the three yesterday as they walked down a street only 20 miles from her home.

She was sleeping next to her 10-year-old sister Mary Catherine when she was abducted.

Mary told police at the time that an armed man had taken Elizabeth and threatened to kill her unless she kept quiet. The terrified younger girl then waited several hours before raising the alarm.

A Smart family spokesman said that the abducted teenager had never had an opportunity to try to escape, or even just cry out for help.

Elizabeth’s wealthy property broker father Ed said that he had not yet asked his daughter about the details of her ordeal.

“Physically she is OK,” he said. “I know that she has been through brainwashing. For her to have gone through the past nine months has just been horrible, absolutely horrible.”

Elizabeth, Barzee and Mitchell, who is also known as Emmanuel, were all wearing wigs when they were stopped, officers said.

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Religion News Blog posted this on Thursday March 13, 2003.
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