Elizabeth Smart Urges Authorities Not to Release Woman Who Helped Kidnap Her: 'She Is a Threat'
Elizabeth Smart held a press conference in hopes of persuading authorities to reconsider releasing her kidnapper Wanda Barzee
At a news conference on Thursday, Smart recounted the nine months she was held captive.
“Wanda Barzee saw me as her slave. She called me her ‘handmaiden’ and she never hesitated to let her displeasure with me be known,” Smart said.
“I do believe she is a threat. She is a woman who had six children and yet could co-conspire to kidnap a 14-year-old girl, and not only sit next to her while [I was] being raped, but encouraged her husband to continue raping me.”
“So, do I believe she is dangerous? Yes, but not just to me. I believe that she is a danger and a threat to any vulnerable person in our community, which is why our community should be worried,” Smart added.
Smart was abducted by Barzee and her husband, Brian David Mitchell, from her Salt Lake City home in 2002. She was raped daily and was forced to go without food for days at a time.
“It was a big shock,” Smart said about Barzee’s release, which is scheduled for Sept. 19. “Only months ago I was on my way to a parole hearing when I was told she would never be let out until 2024 … so yes, it was a big shock.”
“With that being said, I would urge the powers that be, and anyone who works under them, to really, strongly reconsider this situation, to look at all the facts, look at her mental status, and see if they really and honestly truly feel like she is no longer a threat and that she is ready to be released.”
Utah parole officials previously told PEOPLE Barzee’s release was decided on after “further review and advice from legal counsel,” which showed Barzee’s previous time in federal prison must be credited toward her current term in state custody.
Barzee also previously served time in jail and time in a state hospital.
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After being arrested in 2003, Barzee confessed to the kidnapping. She told authorities she aided her husband in kidnapping Smart from Smart’s home.
Barzee pleaded guilty in federal court in November 2009 and agreed to testify against her husband, who was convicted in December 2010. Mitchell is serving two life sentences.
A year later, Barzee pleaded guilty to a state charge of conspiracy to commit attempted kidnapping. She had planned to take Smart’s cousin but was unsuccessful.
Since being rescued by police, Smart has become an author, motivational speaker, a wife and mother.
She and her husband, Matthew Gilmour, are expecting their third child together.