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The Elizabeth Smart Kidnapping (PHOTO ESSAY)

A collection of photos that presents a timeline of the events of Elizabeth Smart's kidnapping, rescue and subsequent litigation against her kidnappers.


Elizabeth Smart in the most recent school photo at the time of the kidnapping (2001-2002)

Edward Smart and his wife Lois lived in the affluent neighborhood of Federal Heights in Salt lake City, Utah, with their six Children.

On the evening of June 4, 2002, the family attended an awards ceremony at Bryant Middle School. After the family returned home and got ready for bed, Ed made sure the doors were locked, but he did not turn on the alarm.

"If the children got up and moved [in the night], it would set the alarm off. And so we just said we're not going to bother with it," Lois later explained.
In the early hours of June 5, Brian David Mitchell broke into the home and came to the bedroom that Elizabeth shared with her 9-year-old sister, Mary Katherine. While Mary Katherine pretended to be asleep, she watched the abduction and later gave these statements as to what happened:
- A white man about 5'8" and about 30 to 40 years old, wearing light-colored clothes and a golf hat was seen. (He was actually wearing black, did not have a golf hat, and was 49).

- He had dark hair, and also dark hair on his arms and the back of his hands.

- The man threatened Elizabeth with a knife (which Mary Katherine thought was a gun at the time).

- When Elizabeth said "ouch" after stubbing her toe on a chair, Mitchell said something that sounded like: "You better be quiet, and I won't hurt you."

- She heard Elizabeth ask "Why are you doing this?" and though the answer was not clear, Mary Katherine thought the answer might have been "for ransom."

- Mitchell was soft spoken - even polite, calm and nicely dressed.

- Although Mitchell spoke to Elizabeth quietly, Mary Katherine thought Mitchell's voice seemed somewhat familiar, but she couldn't pinpoint where or when she had heard it.

- She never got a good look at Mitchell's face. This fact was kept a secret by the police during the investigation.
By listening to the creaking floor as Elizabeth and Mitchell walked, Mary Katherine thought she could tell where Mitchell and Elizabeth were. When it seemed safe, Mary Katherine hopped out of bed to tell her parents. But she froze in terror when she nearly ran into Mitchell and Elizabeth as they seemed to be looking into her brothers' bedroom. Fearful that she had been spotted by the abductor, she crept back into her bed.

"I thought, you know, be quiet, because if he hears you, he might take you too, and you're the only person who has seen this. I was, like, shaking." She later confessed in an interview. She hid for an undetermined amount of time. Investigators later concluded that she may have been hiding over two hours before she felt safe enough to come out.
Just before 4 a.m., Mary Katherine came to her parents' bedroom and woke them up. She told them Elizabeth was gone, but her parents thought she was having a bad dream. Ed went from room to room, and didn't find her. Mary Katherine told him, "You're not going to find her. A man came and took her. He had a knife." Still, the parents found this hard to believe until Lois spotted a screen window downstairs that had been cut with a knife.
The next day, Ed and Lois went on television and asked the kidnapper to return their daughter. A massive search for Elizabeth began.

Organized by the Laura Recovery Center, the massive search for Elizabeth began immediately following her abduction. Up to 2,000 volunteers a day were dispatched to the area surrounding her home trying to find any trace of the missing girl.

Word spread quickly as an impromptu coalition of websites facilitated the distribution of information about Elizabeth Smart with flyers that could be downloaded for printing or immediately circulated via email or fax. Volunteers combed the hills near her family's home and extended the search using search dogs and aircraft. After many days of intensive searching, the community-led search was closed by the local volunteers and efforts were directed to other means of finding Elizabeth.
Elizabeth was forced to live in a very remote campsite in the mountains high above her Federal Heights home.

It's about a two hour hike. The terrain is rough and steep. Imagining a frightened Elizabeth at night in her red pajamas and tennis shoes making this journey is horrific.

6600 ft. up a mountainside was the huge hole where Elizabeth was forced to camp for months with her kidnappers. It's location was very remote and well hidden. Investigators believe Brian David Mitchell built it in anticipation of Elizabeth's arrival.
It's obvious a lot of thought was put into the campsite. You can see the logs were actually cut so they interlocked. And then there was a nail on the other side holding it all together. Inside, you could stand on a side of the camp, but then there was a very, very, steep slope, not leaving much room on the end.
Seven big tree trunks supported the hundreds of smaller trees that made up the slanted roof. Thick black plastic allowed for the large amount of dirt that sat on top. The underground camp was about twnety feet long and about six feet wide. Outside the hole, the kidnapper created a long, uncovered dirt platform.

The entire camp was held up by a retaining wall. It looked like dozens of logs simply piled one on top of the other, spanning the entire length of the camp.

In the days following the kidnapping, investigators had said Elizabeth could hear searchers calling her name. But the isolation kept ground crews from finding her and the camouflaged roof hid her from heat-seeking cameras.
Investigators recovered several key pieces of evidence from that campsite, including the knife allegedly used in the kidnapping. Crime scene techs and detectives made several trips to process the site.
Although police had an eyewitness in Mary Katherine, her report was not very helpful to investigators. Furthermore, there was almost no significant forensic evidence such as clear fingerprints or DNA samples to help identify the abductor, hindering the investigation. A search using bloodhounds was unsuccessful in following Mitchell and Elizabeth's path on foot.

Police questioned and interviewed hundreds of potential suspects including one individual, Bret Michael Edmunds, a 26-year-old who was pursued across the country but ultimately was cleared of suspicion in the case after being located in a West Virginia hospital. One by one, the leads that were pursued often put at-large criminals back in prison, but they did not produce the desired result of finding Elizabeth.
The Smarts and their extended family persistenly maintained a presence in the local and national media, in order to keep Elizaebth's name in the press, providing the media with home videos of her as a teenager and as a child, and created a website to serve as a resource center.

After several months, a breakthrough came in October 2002, when Mary Katherine suddenly remembered where she had heard Mitchell's voice, telling her parents, "I think I know who it is: Emmanuel."
[Brian David Mitchell as he appeared when he first met the Smarts, November 2001]

The Smarts sought to help unemployed people in the community by paying them for odd jobs or handy work around the property. Mitchell, who called himself "Emmanuel", had been the one who informed many homeless people that the Smarts would hire them and also worked for them himself. He worked at the Smart's home for only five hours, helping on the roof and raking leaves.

Mary Katherine now identified "Emmanuel"/Mitchell as the man who had abducted her sister. When this was reported to the police, they had doubts as to its reliability. Mary Katherine had barely heard the suspect's quiet voice and for only a few minutes, and had just awakened from sleep. When it was reported several months later that she thought it was the voice of a man she had only met briefly and more than year before, the police did not consider it a worthy lead.
Tensions developed as the parents accused the police of not thoroughly following up on this lead. The family used the services of sketch artist Dalene Nielson to draw "Emmanuel's" face from memory.
In February 2003, this drawing was released to the media, with the assistance of John Walsh, who revealed it in an appearance on Larry King Live and on his own series, America's Most Wanted. The drawing was recognized by Emmanuel's family, who reported his actual name, Brian David Mitchell, to the police and provided them with contemporary photographs of Mitchell.
On March 12, 2003, just over nine months after the abduction, Mitchell, who was now wanted by police for questioning, was spotted with two people in Sandy, Utah, by a couple who had seen photos on the news and called 911. The people were Elizabeth Smart -- disguised in a gray wig, sunglasses and veil -- and Wanda Ileen Barzee. Elizabeth was finally recognized by the officers during questioning, and was promptly reunited with her family. Mitchell and Barzee were taken into custody as alleged kidnappers.
Brian David Mitchell was taken into custody, along with his wife Wanda Ileen Barzee, on March 12, 2003. The court requested that Mitchell undergo a competency evaluation. While awaiting the evaluation, Mitchell was incarcerated at the Utah State Hospital. Dr. Stephen Golding, a psychologist hired by the defense, distinguished between zealous belief and delusion, and concluded that Mitchell's beliefs transcended zeal and were in fact delusional. It was Golding's opinion that Mitchell was not competent to stand trial as a result of his delusions. The court however suspended Golding's opinion and found Mitchell to be competent in 2004.

Plea negotiations subsequently began between the defense and the prosecution. The defendant was willing to plead guilty to kidnapping and burglary for a 10-15 year sentence on condition that Elizabeth should not testify. The prosecution refused to drop sexual assault charges against Mitchell, and no agreement was reached.

On October 15, 2004, plea negotiations had still not determined an agreement. The defense appealed as late as October 21, asking the prosecution to rethink their position in terms of what they were offering Mitchell. Up until this point the defense did not highlight breakdown in competence as a contributing factor to the deterioration of plea negotiations; they cited the lack of a coming to an agreement as being the result of the sole discretion of their client. The appeal was subsequently rejected.
Dr. Jennifer Skeem, a psychologist who initially stated that Mitchell was competent, interviewed Mitchell again per the defense's request in February 2005. After this interview, Heidi Buchi, Mitchell's attorney, fielded a brief stating that Mitchell was no longer competent to stand trial. Mitchell subsequently began to act out in court, while jail staff observed no change in his behavior and thought process. Ultimately, Judge Judy Atherton agreed with the defense, asserting that Mitchell's behavior reflected psychosis. The defendant re-entered Utah State Hospital on August 11, 2005 and remained there until 2008. While in the hospital, no staff experienced Mitchell as being paranoid in a pathological sense.
In February 2006, a bill went before the Utah legislature to allow prosecutors to apply for forcible medication on defendants to restore their competence to face trial. Permission to forcibly medicate Wanda Barzee was also sought, relying upon the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Sell v. United States (2003), which permits compulsory medication when the state can demonstrate a compelling interest is served by restoring a person's competence and that medication would not harm the person or prevent them from defending oneself. In June 2006, a Utah judge approved the forcible medication of Barzee so that she could stand trial.
On December 18, 2006, Mitchell was again unfit to stand trial in the Utah state courts after screaming at a judge during a hearing to, "forsake those robes and kneel in the dust." Doctors had been trying to treat Mitchell without drugs, but prosecutor Kent Morgan said after the scene in court that a request was likely to be made for permission to forcibly administer drugs.

On December 12, 2008, it was reported that Mitchell could not be legally medicated by the State of Utah to attempt to restore his mental competency, also claiming that is is "unnecessary and needlessly harsh," and therefore a violation of the Utah state constitution, to prolong trial proceedings to this length.
The case was eventually transferred to Federal court on October 10, 2008. Issues of competency proved to be the crux of the case, and the court held an evidentiary hearing on Mitchell's competency on October 1, 2009 and November 30 through December 11, 2009. Competency evaluations conducted by Dr. Noel Gardner, Dr. Welner, and Dr. Richart DeMier were presented at the hearing. Dr. Gardner maintainted that he believed Mitchell was fully aware of his actions and was attempting to deceive the court. Dr. Michael Welner, the key witness in the case, reviewed 210 sources and 57 separate interviews including Mitchell, his wife Wanda Barzee, his family, and Elizabeth Smart. The Court credited Dr. Welner with introducing new evidence into the case in his 206-page report. Welner opined that Mitchell was competent to stand trial, and diagnosed him with pedophilia, nonexclusive tupe, antisocial personality disorder, narcisstistic personality disorder, malingering, and alcohol abuse in a controlled environment. Welner believed that Mitchell was highly manipulative and used his relgious expression as way to coax people into overlooking his high function and dismissing him as delusioinal. Dr. DeMier, a clinical psychologist for the defense, on the other hand, believed that Mitchell was mentally ill at the time of the crime, and this greatly imparied his judgment. Mitchell was found competent to stand trial on March 1, 2010.
Wanda Barzee eventually pleaded guilty and was sentenced to concurrent terms of fifteen years in state and federal prison. However, due to the delays and mental evaluations, it took mitchell's case almost 8 years to come to court.
Mitchell's trial began on November 8, 2010. The defense acknowledged that Mitchell was in fact responsible for the crimes, but contended that he was legally insane at the time of the crime, and should therefore not be found guilty by reason of insanity.
According to Elizabeth Smart's October 1, 2009, US Federal Court testimony, after Smart had gone to bed on June 4, 2002, a man Smart identified as Brian Mitchell had entered her bedroom and had "placed his hand on my chest and then put the knife up to my neck. He told me to get up quietly, and if I didn't then he would kill me and my family. He was whispering, but it was still loud enough it could wake someone. He was dressed in sweats, sweatshirt, stocking cap, and tennis shoes."

After Smart had been led to Mitchell's camp in the woods, a woman Smart identified as Wanda Barzee "eventually just proceeded to wash my feet and told me to change out of my pajamas into a robe type of garment. And when I refused, she said if I didn't, she would have Brian Mitchell come rip my pajamas off. I put the robe on. He came and performed a ceremony, which was to marry me to him. After than, he proceeded to rape me."

It was later revealed during court testimony that Mitchell repeatedly raped Smart, sometimes multiple times daily and forced her to watch pornographic films. He often forced her to drink alcohol to lower her resistance.

The insanity defense was struck down on December 11, 2010, when the jury found Mitchell guilty of kidnapping and transporting a minor across state lines with intent to engage in sexual activity. U.S. District Judge Dale Kimball sentenced Mitchell to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Mitchell is currently serving his sentence at the United States Penitentiary, a high-security federal prison in Tucson, Arizona.

In 2016, Barzee's federal imprisonment was terminated and she was transferred to the Utah Department of Corrections to start serving her state prison sentence, which will not expire until 2024.
Elizabeth Smart was present along with other families of kidnapped children, when President Bush signed the Amber Alert bill into law. (2003).
Today Elizabeth is a child safety activist and a contributor for ABC News. In 2011 she founded the Elizabeth Smart Foundation, which aims to support the Internet Crimes Against Children task force and to educate children about violent and sexual crime. The foundation is in the process of merging with Operation Underground Railroad to combine efforts in the fight against human trafficking.  She has also published a book detailing her ordeal. She is married and has two children.

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