Elizabeth Smart says woman who kidnapped her is sick, twisted, and 'encouraged' her husband to rape her

By Elaine Aradillas
September 18, 2018 04:22 PM
Credit: Peter Kramer/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images

Elizabeth Smart is speaking out about the “evil and twisted” woman who helped her husband kidnap her 16 years ago and is expected to be released from prison Wednesday.

Wanda Barzee pleaded guilty in 2009 to kidnapping and unlawful transportation of a minor across state lines to engage in sexual activity in the 2002 kidnapping of Smart, then 14. She agreed to testify against her husband Brian David Mitchell, who was convicted in December 2010 on those same charges and is serving two life sentences.

Utah parole officials tell PEOPLE the move — which reverses a July denial of Barzee’s parole — came after “further review and advice from legal counsel” that showed they must credit Barzee’s time in federal prison toward her current term in state custody, on top of time she had already served in jail and a state hospital.

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Smart sat down with CBS This Morning’s Gayle King and spoke frankly about her ordeal, describing Barzee as a danger to the public.

Smart described her initial days after being kidnapped when she first encountered Barzee.

“I remember thinking, ‘This is it. [Mitchell’s] just going to rape and kill me.’ And then at one point he did end up telling me that he had a wife that was waiting. That moment did give me a bit of comfort. But as soon as I saw her, I did not have that hope anymore,” she told King. “Just the feeling that kind of radiated from her — it just was dark. And it was evil. And I just knew that she wasn’t there to help me, that she wasn’t there to protect me.”

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Smart testified that during the nine months she was held captive, she was drugged, tied to a tree and raped as often as four times a day. Barzee was a witness to all of it, Smart says.

“She would encourage him to rape me. She would sit next to me. The side of her body would be touching me while he was raping me,” Smart said. “There were no secrets. She knew what was going on.”

After Smart was rescued and Barzee was arrested, the now-72 year-old woman also pleaded guilty but mentally ill to a state charge of conspiracy to commit attempted kidnapping stemming from an unsuccessful plot to take Smart’s cousin.

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Barzee started serving a one- to 15-year sentence for that crime in April 2016, following completion of her term in the federal kidnapping case.

Prior to last week’s decision, her sentence would have continued through January 2024 and officials said she would likely not have been released until 2023, the Salt Lake Tribune reported.

In a statement obtained by local TV station KSL, Smart said she was both “surprised and disappointed” by Barzee’s release.

Smart told King that she did not know the conditions of Barzee’s release, but says she has been told by sources that officials will be keeping a watchful eye.

“As soon as she messes up, which I’ve been reassured that she will, she will be taken back to federal prison for the duration of the five years,” Smart said.

In the years since she was freed from captivity as a teenager, Smart, now 30, has turned her tragedy into triumph — becoming an author, TV correspondent, motivational speaker, philanthropist and victims’ rights advocate.

She is expecting her third child with her husband, Matthew Gilmour.