It was a beautiful summer night in Salt Lake City, Utah when Elizabeth Smart was taken from her home. At just 14 years old, Elizabeth was a bright and talented young girl, who loved playing the harp and spending time with her family. But on the evening of June 5, 2002, all of that changed.
Elizabeth was asleep in her bedroom when she was awoken by a man standing over her bed. He was holding a knife to her throat and told her to be quiet and come with him. Elizabeth’s younger sister, Mary Katherine, was also in the room and witnessed the abduction. She later told authorities that the man was wearing dark clothing and a ski mask, and that he had a foreign accent.
Elizabeth was terrified as she was led out of her bedroom and through the house. She knew that she was being kidnapped, and she had no idea what the man wanted with her or where he was taking her. All she could do was try to stay calm and comply with his demands.
The man led Elizabeth out of the house and into the night. He took her to a nearby campsite where he had set up a makeshift shelter. There, he tied Elizabeth to a tree and told her that she was his captive. He warned her not to try to escape or make any noise, or he would hurt her.
For the next nine months, Elizabeth was held captive by her kidnapper, Brian David Mitchell. Mitchell, a self-proclaimed “prophet,” had been staying in the area for several weeks, performing odd jobs and preaching to anyone who would listen. He had been planning the abduction for some time, and he believed that Elizabeth was meant to be his “wife.”
During her captivity, Elizabeth was subjected to constant physical and emotional abuse. Mitchell would often threaten her and beat her if she did not do as he commanded. He also forced her to wear a veil and long robes, and to call him “lord.” Elizabeth was not allowed to speak to anyone or go out in public, and she was constantly on edge, fearing for her life.
Despite the terrible circumstances, Elizabeth remained determined to find a way to escape. She kept track of the days and weeks by counting the times she was fed and exercised. She also tried to communicate with her captors and anyone else she encountered, hoping to find an opportunity to get help.
Elizabeth’s family and the community were devastated by her disappearance, and they worked tirelessly to find her. The Salt Lake City Police Department formed a task force to investigate the case, and they received hundreds of tips from the public. The search for Elizabeth became a national news story, with people across the country praying for her safe return.
Finally, on March 12, 2003, Elizabeth was found alive. She had been spotted walking down a street in Sandy, Utah with Mitchell and his wife, Wanda Barzee. A bystander recognized Elizabeth from the news reports and called the police, who arrested Mitchell and Barzee on the spot.
Elizabeth was reunited with her family and received medical attention for the injuries she had sustained during her captivity. She was also debriefed by the FBI and other law enforcement agencies, who were eager to learn more about her ordeal and bring her kidnappers to justice.
In the years that followed, Elizabeth worked to rebuild her life and find healing from the trauma of her abduction. She became an advocate for victims of crime and gave numerous public speeches about her experience. She also wrote a book about her captivity, “My Story,” which was published in 2013.
Today, Elizabeth is a thriving young woman with a bright future ahead of her. She is married and has two children, and she continues to
use her experiences to inspire and help others. Despite the unimaginable horror and suffering that she endured, Elizabeth has remained resilient and has found the strength to move forward and make a positive impact on the world.
As for her kidnappers, Brian David Mitchell was convicted of kidnapping and unlawful transportation of a minor in 2010 and was sentenced to life in prison. Wanda Barzee pleaded guilty to her role in the abduction and was sentenced to 15 years in prison. She was released in 2018, but was re-arrested in 2019 for violating the terms of her parole.
The kidnapping of Elizabeth Smart was a tragedy that shocked and saddened the nation. But through her courage and determination, Elizabeth was able to overcome her ordeal and emerge stronger and more resilient than ever before. She is a true inspiration and a testament to the human spirit.