Elizabeth Smart calls her captor Wanda Barzee 'a threat'; urges authorities not to release her
Wanda Barzee and her husband Brian Mitchell kidnapped Elizabeth Smart from her home and held her captive for nine months, repeatedly raping her while letting her starve at times
Elizabeth Smart - whose story of being kidnapped at the age of 14 and held captive for nine months made headlines in 2002 - has expressed shock over the scheduled early release of one of the captors. Simultaneously, she's also talked about taking extreme measures to protect her family.
While Elizabeth hasn't revealed what she's planning on doing to protect her family, what is known is that she is doing this because she's "afraid of tipping her hand before next week's release of 72-year-old Wanda Barzee," reports TMZ. According to reports, Barzee pleaded guilty to kidnapping Elizabeth in 2009, and she's expected to be set free this coming September 19 after spending 15 years behind bars. "Barzee pleaded guilty in federal court in November 2009 and agreed to testify against her husband, Brian David Mitchell, who was convicted in December 2010. Mitchell is serving two life sentences," reports People magazine.
Elizabeth Ann Smart was reportedly kidnapped at age 14 on June 5, 2002, by Mitchell from her home in Salt Lake City, Utah. She was held captive by Mitchell and his wife, Barzee, on the outskirts of the city and later, in San Diego County, California, for almost nine months before she was discovered in Sandy, Utah.
Initially, the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole had set a release date for January 2024, but recently, they claimed that there was a miscalculation and decided to set Barzee free next week. According to Elizabeth, the very thought of having Barzee out of the streets makes her shudder.
Elizabeth, now a mother of two, said that when she was taken captive, Barzee stood idle as Mitchell repeatedly raped her. They had kidnapped her from her house and while she was held captive by them, they forced her to go without food for days at a time. This led to her also worrying about Barzee's mental health and Elizabeth is now asking authorities to take a second look at their decision to release the convict. She has claimed that Barzee is a threat to the community.
Luckily for Elizabeth, she was found while walking with Barzee and Mitchell in a Utah suburb, by people who were able to recognize her from news reports. Currently, she works as a child safety activist, apart from being an author, a motivational speaker, a wife, and a mother. She and her husband, Matthew Gilmour, are expecting their third child together.
She spoke up about her harrowing experience at a news conference on Thursday. "Wanda Barzee saw me as her slave. She called me her ‘handmaiden’ and never hesitated to let her displeasure with me be known,” Elizabeth recounted. “I do believe she is a threat. She is a woman who had six children and yet could co-conspire to kidnap a 14-year-old girl, and not only sit next to her while [I was] being raped, but encouraged her husband to continue raping me.”
She continued: “So, do I believe she is dangerous? Yes, but not just to me. I believe that she is a danger and a threat to any vulnerable person in our community, which is why our community should be worried."
Speaking on the authorities decision to release Barzee, she said: “It was a big shock. Only months ago I was on my way to a parole hearing when I was told she would never be let out until 2024 … so yes, it was a big shock. That being said, I would urge the powers that be, and anyone who works under them, to really, strongly reconsider this situation, to look at all the facts, look at her mental status, and see if they really and honestly truly feel like she is no longer a threat and is ready to be released.”
She added that, as a Christian, she forgave Barzee years ago but it doesn't mean she would ever "let her back into my life."