During the nine months she was held in captivity, Elizabeth Smart says her kidnapper allegedly tried to abduct another girl — going so far as to pose as a Mormon and befriend the girl’s family to do so.
But, Smart says, Brian David Mitchell allegedly backed off his plan at the last minute after he went to the girl’s house and heard a man snoring inside. Mitchell never abducted the girl and would later be convicted of kidnapping Smart and sentenced to two life sentences in prison.
Smart revealed Mitchell’s alleged plan to kidnap the other girl in her new book, When There’s Hope: Healing, Moving Forward, and Never Giving Up, which is on sale.
The book reveals new details of Smart’s abduction and rape and her recovery. It includes interviews with other public figures who have been touched by trauma of all kinds, such as Ann Romney — who suffers from multiple sclerosis — and Diane von Furstenberg, whose mother is a Holocaust survivor.
In the early morning hours of June 5, 2002, Smart, then 14, was kidnapped at knifepoint by Mitchell from her Salt Lake City home. She was held captive by Mitchell and his wife, Wanda Barzee, for nine months as the couple traveled from Utah to Southern California and back. She was repeatedly raped by Mitchell.
Smart describes how during their time in California, Mitchell allegedly began looking for his “next wife” and checked out local churches for young girls.
One Sunday, she writes, Mitchell allegedly went to a Mormon church in El Cajon determined to find a girl to victimize.
After receiving a dinner invitation at the home of a family from the church he’d befriended, he spotted a picture of a young girl on the family’s piano — and learned the girl was the host’s daughter from a previous marriage who visited every other weekend and Wednesdays.
“That was all it took for him to decide that this young girl would be his next victim,” Smart alleges in the book.
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Smart writes that after the dinner, Mitchell allegedly came back to the riverbed campsite where he, Barzee, and Smart were living and bragged about his plan. He allegedly said he planned to return to the home when the girl was present and “rescue” the girl — which, Smart writes, actually meant kidnapping and raping her.
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Smart writes that one subsequent night, Mitchell allegedly left the campsite wearing the same dark clothes and carrying the same knife as the night of her abduction. He allegedly caught a bus and rode it to the girl’s home, Smart writes.
Relaying Mitchell’s alleged account to her, Smart writes that when Mitchell arrived at the home, he opened the door but then heard the sound of a man snoring. The sound allegedly alarmed him and compelled him to leave, Smart writes.
“I know most people consider snoring a health risk or an annoyance,” Smart writes. “But in the case of this young girl, it saved her life.”
Smart was rescued 18 miles from her home in Sandy, Utah, on March 12, 2003. Years later, she appeared before a Utah federal judge to testify against Mitchell. (Wanda Barzee pleaded guilty to kidnapping and unlawful transportation of a minor across state lines to engage in sexual activity and testified against her husband in court. She was sentenced to 15 years in prison.)
In 2011, Smart addressed Mitchell at his sentencing saying, “I know that you know what you did is wrong. You took away nine months of my life that can never be returned.”
When There’s Hope: Healing, Moving Forward, and Never Giving Up (St. Martin’s Press) is on sale now.