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Elizabeth Smart on Kidnapper’s Release from Prison: Wanda Barzee Watched as I Was Raped


Elizabeth Smart sat down for an interview with Gayle King of CBS This Morning and spoke out about the news that the woman who was convicting for kidnapping her will be released from prison five years earlier than anticipated.

72-year-old Wanda Barzee will be released on September 19 due to state parole officials’ decision to credit Barzee for eight years worth of time spent in federal custody. That time served will be retroactively applied to her conviction and sentencing on Utah state criminal charges.

Initially, the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole had declined to take those eight years of federal imprisonment into account when considering the possibility of Barzee being paroled earlier this summer. The board’s about-face decision has been described as a “surprise” and comes just months after the initial denial in July of this year.

ln the latest interview, Smart said something she has before of Wanda Barzee, namely that she doesn’t believe Barzee has changed.

“I do believe she’s still a danger […] Through my sources, I’ve heard that she’s still carrying around this ‘book of revelations’ that Brian Mitchell wrote […] that said he should kidnap me, and not just kidnap me but six other young girls, and that we’d all be his wives,” Smart told King. “[C]learly, she hasn’t let it go.”

But Smart also detailed the abuse she suffered at the hands of Barzee and Brian Mitchell.The pair kidnapped Smart from her Salt Lake City home in 2002, when she was 14 years old.

Smart said that she knew from the first time she saw Barzee after being kidnapped that she was “dark” and “evil.”

“I don’t know, just the feeling that kind of radiated from her. It just was dark. And it was evil. And I just knew that she — she wasn’t there to help me, that she wasn’t there to protect me,” she said.

Smart said that Mitchell raped her repeatedly and Barzee watched, making it all the more disturbing that this same person will soon be released from prison.

“So what do you think she would do?” King asked.

“I don’t know. And perhaps that’s what worries me, because I know just how bad [Barzee] really can be,” Smart replied. “She would encourage him to rape me. She would sit right next to me. Like, the side of her body would be touching me […] While he was raping me. I mean, she was right there.”

Smart said Barzee laughed as much as Mitchell did “if not more” when she woke up in her own vomit one morning. Smart had been forced to drink alcohol until the point where she passed out and threw up.

Authorities have attempted to reassure Smart in advance of Barzee’s release, Smart said.

“I don’t know all the conditions of her release, but I have been reassured multiple times that [Barzee] will be kept a very close eye on,” she said. “And as soon as she messes up, which I’ve been reassured that she will, she will be taken back to federal prison for the duration of the five years.”

Smart said she knows who the federal agent working the case will be.

“I have faith in him. I just lack faith in her,” she said.

Colin Kalmbacher contributed to this report.

[Image via CBS This Morning screengrab]

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Matt Naham is the Senior A.M. Editor of Law&Crime.