Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Kidnapping of Elizabeth Smart

"I'm Going To
Be Here in the Morning"

Elizabeth with her mother and father
Elizabeth with her mother and father

Later that day Ed Smart was called to a Salt Lake police station. He thought he was being summoned to identify "Emmanuel," but when he walked into a holding room and saw Elizabeth sitting on a couch, he was stunned. An investigator asked if this was his daughter. "Yes!" he cried and ran to her, hugging her close. He looked into Elizabeth's face and asked if it was really her.

"Yes," she said, holding him tight.

Ed Smart wanted to bring his daughter home immediately, but the police detained her a while longer for further questioning, so they could start building their case against Mitchell and Barzee. Word spread quickly that Elizabeth had been found, and people celebrated in the streets.

David Smart
David Smart

Elizabeth was reunited with her family that night, and seeing her mother and siblings brought her further out of the nightmare she'd been living. Her parents just assumed that she would want to sleep in their bedroom for a while until she adjusted, but to their surprise she said she wanted to sleep in her own bed with her sister Mary Katherine. Lois Smart writes in the book she wrote with her husband, Bringing Elizabeth Home, that Elizabeth told her, "Mom, don't worry. I'm just fine. I'm going to be safe. I'm going to be here in the morning."

Elizabeth's adjustment to her old life was quick. She had matured and changed physically in the time that she was gone, and when she tired to play her beloved harp, she found that she was very out of practice. But despite the traumatic events of the past nine months, she seemed to regain her place in the family with relative ease. Everyone was happy for her and her family, but one question lingered in the public's mind: What exactly did Mitchell do to her during her captivity?

David Smart, Elizabeth's uncle, told reporters that a doctor had examined her and that she was not pregnant and never had been pregnant. But the family refused to answer any questions about sexual assault.

Salt Lake County Adult Detention Center
Salt Lake County Adult Detention Center

Mitchell and Barzee were arrested and held at the Salt Lake County Adult Detention Center. According to authors Haberman and MacIntosh, when Mitchell was asked for his current address, he said, "Heaven on earth" and gave "God" as his emergency contact. Though he had told various people over the past few months that Elizabeth was his daughter, his attorney, Larry Long, told a television reporter that Mitchell considered the girl his wife. His name for Elizabeth was Shear Jashub Isaiah, "Remnant who will return."

On March 18, Salt Lake County District Attorney David Yocom announced that Mitchell and Barzee would be charged with aggravated kidnapping, aggravated burglary, and aggravated sexual assault as well as attempted aggravated kidnapping for trying to snatch Elizabeth's cousin, Jessica Wright, from her home on July 24, 2002. According to the probable cause statement, Mitchell had "committed a rape, attempted rape, forcible sexual abuse or attempted forcible sexual abuse."

District Attorney David Yocom
District Attorney David Yocom

If and when Mitchell and Barzee are ever tried, the details of the alleged sexual assault will come to light and Elizabeth herself will most likely be called to testify. However, the court has ruled that neither Mitchell nor Barzee are mentally competent to stand trial. Mitchell has been ejected from several of his mental-competency hearings for singing the hymn, "Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at Hand." His lawyers have said that he is unable to assist in his own defense and that he has become increasingly delusional since his arrest. Mitchell and Barzee might never be tried and the details of Elizabeth Smart's time under Mitchell's spell will remain a private matter, known only to Elizabeth, her captors, and her family.

Barzee has filed for divorce from Mitchell.

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