Elizabeth Smart Meets Fellow Kidnapping Survivor Amanda Berry for the First Time: 'You're Just My Hero'
Years after they endured unspeakable horrors, abduction survivors Amanda Berry and Elizabeth Smart are sitting down together for the first time to discuss the drive that helped both of them withstand their ordeals.
Their discussion will air on Wednesday’s episode of Crime Watch Daily. In an exclusive clip of their initial meeting, the two share a warm hug. “I have wanted to meet you for years,” Smart says.
She says she has special regard for Berry, telling her, “You’re just my hero.”
The conversation is guided by Smart, a special correspondent for the syndicated CWD. Berry appears on the show’s affiliate station WJW-Fox 8, in Cleveland, where she hosts a 30-second daily news segment dedicated to helping locate missing people in northeast Ohio.
In the clip from their talk, the two women recall the traumas that connect them — and the reasons they found to go on.
“There were so many days [while I was captive] that I just felt like, this is never going to end,” says Smart, who was held for nine months after being taken at age 14 from her Salt Lake City home in 2002.
“Did you ever feel like that?” she asks Berry, who broke free in 2013 after 10 years held captive with two other young women in a decrepit Cleveland home.
“Oh gosh, there was plenty of days where I felt like not going on — where I’m like, why?” Berry replies.
“I feel like I could sum up my days in three words: boredom, abuse and rape,” Smart tells her. “And that was my life.”
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Smart’s abductor, Brian David Mitchell, broke into her family’s home early on June 5, 2002, and took the teen from the bed she shared with a younger sister. In testimony at Mitchell’s trial, and later in her own memoir, Smart said the onetime homeless preacher and self-avowed prophet raped her both then and afterward, as often as four times a day.
She was rescued in March 2003, after a couple who recognized Mitchell from an episode of America’s Most Wanted spotted him with Smart and another women on the street in Sandy, Utah. Mitchell was convicted in 2010 and is serving a life sentence on charges connected to the kidnapping. His wife, Wanda Barzee, pleaded guilty to related crimes.
Smart, an author and TV correspondent, also works as a philanthropist and motivational speaker.
Berry vanished at age 16 on April 21, 2003, after calling her sister to say she was accepting a ride home from work. Picked up and held prisoner in his Cleveland home by Ariel Castro — who also kidnapped and held two other young women, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight — Berry escaped on May 6, 2013, and ended the trio’s captivity after hailing help from a neighbor.
Castro pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life in prison, and he hanged himself behind bars a month later. Berry later released a memoir about her captivity.
“To this day I think I’m still not really comfortable going out a lot by myself,” she tells Smart on Crime Watch Daily.
“Are there things that still scare you?” she asks.
“I don’t necessarily think that I have fears from it,” Smart replies, “but I think that I am very cautious. And when I don’t feel safe, I remove myself from that situation.”
While captive, Berry and the other women held by Castro were bound and repeatedly raped; and she gave birth in the house to a daughter, Jocelyn, fathered by her abductor.
“Do you feel like having your daughter gave you the strength to keep going?” Smith asks in the clip. “That having her made you strong, for her sake?”
It did, Berry says: “I had her face to look at and remind me, oh my god, this is what it’s all for.”
Smart tells Berry that she rescued herself from Castro, and she calls her “a fighter.”
“I get that from my mom,” Berry responds, starting to tear up. “She was the best woman in the world, so I thank God for her every day.”
Smart asks about learning on TV, while captive, that her mother died while she was still missing.
“I think that was the hardest thing,” Berry says, her voice breaking, of the woman who never lost hope that she would be found.
“It was the worst day of my life,” Berry continues in the clip, “and it kind of still is, every day without her.”
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“So how has motherhood changed you?” Berry asks her on Crime Watch Daily.
“From the moment that [Chloe] was born, I felt like my heart just relocated up into my throat,” Smart says, “and I don’t think it’s ever moved.”
Their sit-down will air Wednesday on Crime Watch Daily. Check local listings.