Woman Involved in Elizabeth Smart's Kidnapping to be Released from Prison

Leroy Wright
September 12, 2018

Now, in a surprise decision, authorities have agreed to release Barzee from her prison sentence early, drawing a critical reaction from Smart and child safety advocates across the country.

Wanda Barzee will be free September 19, announced the Utah Board of Pardons in a surprise decision Tuesday.

She and her husband, Brian David Mitchell, kidnapped at knifepoint a then 14-year-old Elizabeth in 2002, keeping her captive for nine months until Elizabeth was spotted on the streets of Sandy, Utah with her abductors. She was walking down the street with Mitchell.

Mitchell is serving a life sentence after being convicted of kidnapping and raping Ms Smart.

That's because she had also pleaded guilty in state court to attempted kidnapping in connection in a plot to kidnap Smart's cousin. Barzee was sentenced in 2010 to 15 years in federal prison, but got credit as part of a plea bargain for the seven years she'd already spent behind bars in both the Utah State Hospital and Salt Lake County Jail.

The Utah Board of Pardons and Parole announced Tuesday that it reversed its original decision and determined it had mistakenly not given Barzee credit for her time served in federal prison.

But in a decision released Tuesday, the board reversed their ruling and ordered instead Barzee be released September 19.

"Upon further review and advice from legal counsel, the Board must count time spent in federal custody toward Ms. Barzee's state sentence", the board said in a statement.

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Representatives for Smart did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

Smart said in a statement Tuesday she was "surprised and disappointed" to learn that Wanda Barzee will be freed after failing to undergo mental health evaluations and failing to attend her own parole hearing in June.

Smart, who is married and a mom of two, said she appreciated the support she's received and vowed to address how Barzee was released so the same thing doesn't happen again.

Wanda Eileen Barzee wasn't expected to be released for at least another five years. She began serving her federal sentence that same day. "I am trying to understand how and why this is happened and exploring possible options".

She said Mitchell told her their marriage was preordained and that she would be by his side as he took seven times seven wives and successfully battled the Antichrist.

She was transported back to the Utah State Prison in April 2016 after completing her federal prison term in Texas.

March 18, 2003: A criminal information was filed in Utah state court alleging aggravated kidnapping. He then shackled her to a wire between two trees while Barzee fully cooperated and was complicit in the kidnapping.

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