Kidnapping suspect justifies polygamy in religious tract

Associated Press, Mar. 15, 2003
The Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY — Just three months before Elizabeth Smart disappeared, the man suspected of kidnapping her declared himself a messenger of God and said it was God’s will that true followers live with multiple wives.

In a rambling 27-page tract typed out on a computer a year ago, Brian David Mitchell had a special word for his wife: “Thou wilt take into thy heart and home seven sisters, and thou wilt recognize them through the spirit as thy dearest and choicest friends from all eternity.”

He goes on to prophesy that his wife will take on “seven times seven sisters, to love and care for; forty-nine precious jewels in thy crown.” But she will remain the “jubilee of them all, first and last.”

Mitchell’s wife, Wanda Barzee, is not referred to by name in the text but is called Hephizibah Eladah Isaiah, which translates to “God Adorneth,” one of her nicknames on the street.

Authorities are expected to charge Mitchell, 49, and Barzee, 57, as early as Monday with kidnapping Elizabeth last June.

The manifesto is in the hands of authorities, who are trying to figure out whether “sisters” is a euphemism for “wives” and whether the declarations have anything to do with Smart’s disappearance.

The document, written in February and March 2002 and obtained Friday by The Associated Press, was seized Thursday at the Montana home of one of Mitchell’s relatives.

It offers a revealing look into Mitchell’s mind-set in the months preceding Smart’s disappearance.

Mitchell and his wife were excommunicated from the Mormon church a few years ago for “activity promoting bizarre teachings and lifestyle far afield from the principles and doctrines of the Church,” church leaders said earlier this week.

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Religion News Blog posted this on Sunday March 16, 2003.
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