Kidnapped Girl Intended as First of Seven Wives

Reuters, Mar. 15, 2003

Wanda Barzee was quoted on Friday as telling a close friend who visited her in Salt Lake County jail that she and husband Brian David Mitchell had received a revelation from God three years ago that they should take seven new wives, according to the Deseret News.

The report came as police said Mitchell had tried to kidnap Smart’s 18 year-old cousin less than two months after allegedly snatching Elizabeth at knifepoint from her bedroom.

Formal charges of aggravated kidnapping against Mitchell, 49, and Barzee, 57, were delayed until Monday. Salt Lake City Sheriff Aaron Kennard said Mitchell would likely also be charged with the attempted kidnapping of Elizabeth’s cousin, Jessica Wright.

Kennard said Wright’s window screen was cut in July in the same way as Smart’s kidnapper entered her home in June. The intruder ran off when Wright woke up and heard a noise.

“We believe we have solid information connecting the two households and the perpetrator,” Kennard told reporters.

Police have described Mitchell as a “self-proclaimed polygamist” who had written a manifesto spelling out his unconventional beliefs. They have declined to say whether Elizabeth was sexually assaulted.

Barzee’s friend of 28 years, Vicki Cottrell who is also executive director of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill of Utah, told the Deseret News that she did not have the strength to ask if Mitchell had “consummated” the marriage to Smart.

“I just felt that I couldn’t,” Cottrell told the newspaper after visiting Barzee on Friday.

Police and family members said that Elizabeth suffered from profound psychological stress that prevented her from escaping when she had a chance.

Elizabeth’s father, Ed Smart, has said that Mitchell was “fixated” on his daughter and had brainwashed her. But the family say they have been reluctant to press Elizabeth for details, focusing instead on surrounding her with love and a sense of security.

An open-air party, hosted by Salt Lake City, was being planned for Friday night to celebrate Elizabeth’s safe return home. Members of her large extended family were expected to attend but it was not know whether the quiet teen would make an appearance.

Cottrell told the Deseret News that Barzee had spoken lovingly of Elizabeth. “I thanked her for taking such good care of Elizabeth, and she got a very nurturing look on her face and said ‘I love her very much. I would never let anything bad happen to her.”‘

Mitchell’s control over Elizabeth, who was forced to wear a wig, a veil and sunglasses, was so complete that when first confronted by police when she was rescued on Wednesday she insisted her name was Augustine.

She appears to have had a chance to escape in February when Mitchell was jailed for five days in San Diego on a minor vandalism charge and a worried Barzee went out for the night to look for him, Cottrell said.

“She (Elizabeth) knew not to wander off,” Cottrell said.

According to video and audio footage of his court appearance in San Diego, Mitchell told the judge he was a “minister for the Lord,” adding “My wife and my daughter are staying with some friends.”

Police said Mitchell took Elizabeth into the mountains above her home for two months after the abduction and later traveled with her and Barzee to San Diego, where they spent six months living in campsites and trailers.

Elizabeth’s 9-year-old sister, Mary Katherine, witnessed the abduction and told police in October that the kidnapper may have been Mitchell. But police downplayed his significance as a possible suspect and San Diego police did not connect him to the kidnapping.


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Religion News Blog posted this on Saturday March 15, 2003.
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