Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Kidnapping of Elizabeth Smart

"If Thou Sayeth, I Sayeth"

Sandy Police Officer Karen Jones
Sandy Police Officer Karen Jones

Mitchell, Barzee, and Elizabeth were next spotted a week later on March 11 in North Las Vegas, begging for change in front of a Burger King. They were not wearing their robes and looked like average down-on-their-luck transients. Employees at the fast-food restaurant called the police, complaining that the trio was harassing customers, but by the time officers arrived, they were gone. The officers found them nearby and questioned them. Mitchell said his name was "Peter Marshall" and that Barzee was his wife, "Juliette." Elizabeth, he said, was his daughter, "Augustine." With no reason to detain them, the police told them to move on.

The next day the trio resurfaced in downtown Sandy, Utah, 40 miles south of Salt Lake City. Mitchell was wearing a green tee shirt and a brown hat. Barzee wore a scarf over her hair. Elizabeth wore a gray wig and large sunglasses.

Just before 1:00 p.m. Salt Lake City police received two separate 911 calls from women who thought they had spotted Mitchell in Sandy. Sitting in her car, watching the trio trudge down the street, Nancy Montoya, a fan of America's Most Wanted, was sure that she was looking at the man whose face she had seen several times on the show. At almost the same time, Anita Dickerson spotted Mitchell and recognized him from photos shown on local news programs. She got out of her car and walked close enough to him to get good look at his face, then immediately called 911.

Elizabeth Smart
Elizabeth Smart

Sandy Police Officer Karen Jones was the first on the scene. She stopped the trio and asked for some identification. Mitchell told her they were the "Marshall" family from Miami, Florida, and said they didn't need identification because they were messengers from God.

The next officer to arrive was Troy Rasmussen. As soon as he saw the girl in the gray wig, he was convinced that it was Elizabeth Smart. Rasmussen called for assistance, and the police separated Elizabeth from Mitchell and Barzee and questioned her alone. She said she was 18 and insisted that she was not Elizabeth Smart. They asked her questions about her parents' background, and she stumbled with her answers, then changed course and said they were her stepparents. She openly showed her annoyance with the officers and their persistent questions. When they asked why she was wearing a wig, she insisted that it was her real hair.

Salt Lake City investigators arrived, and they continued the questioning. At one point they showed her a missing-person poster with a photograph of herself. Her face was thinner in the photo, and her arms and shoulders weren't as developed. Hiking through the mountains, hauling a backpack had built up her muscles. She stared at the picture, tears brimming in her eyes.

The officers asked her again if she was Elizabeth Smart.

"If thou sayeth, I sayeth," she answered.

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