Several weeks after Elizabeth Smart was kidnapped at knifepoint, the ordeal could have ended immediately when she met a police detective during a visit to the Salt Lake City library.
As the officer attempted to lift the veil Smart was wearing, her alleged abductor, Brian David Mitchell, yelled that the veil was important for religious purposes and that only Mitchell was allowed to see her face.
“I was mad at myself that I didn’t say anything,” she said on her second day of testimony at Mitchell’s trial in federal court in Salt Lake City. “I felt terrible that the detective hadn’t pushed harder and had just walked away.”
As she had in Monday’s testimony, Smart, 23, spoke in a soft but steady voice as she described her horrifying nine months in captivity starting in 2002 that she said included being tethered by a cable and subjected to sexual assault by Mitchell when she was 14 years old.
During her testimony, she ignored Mitchell as he was removed from the courtroom again for singing – this time it was the hymn “Reverently, Quietly.”
Smart began by recalling how Mitchell forced her to burn her red silk pajamas because they tied her to her family, and changed her name to “Shear-Jashub,” a name meaning “the remnant will return” from the book of Isaiah.
When she asked to be called by a different name, Mitchell agreed, as long as the name was from the Bible. Smart chose the name Esther.
Asked by prosecutor Felice Viti whether she ever spoke to Mitchell about her parents, Smart said she told Mitchell how much she loved them and how much they meant to her.
“How did he react?” asked Viti.
“At first, he was a little more patient with me but as time went on he became more … he didn’t want me to talk about them so much. He didn’t want my focus to be on them so much, so he told me to refer to them as Ed and Lois and cut back on talking about them.”