Smarts react to convicted kidnapper’s parole hearing
DRAPER, Utah – The family of Elizabeth Smart has spoken after one of her convicted kidnappers, Wanda Barzee, had a parole hearing Tuesday. She failed to appear.
“I think Elizabeth has moved on and really it’s up to the health care professionals to determine whether (Barzee will) be out or not,” said Smart’s father, Ed, who spoke at the Utah State Prison after the hearing.
It was 16 years ago last week when his then 14-year-old was taken in the middle of the night from her Salt Lake City home.
Ed Smart believes if Barzee poses a threat to anyone, she should not be let out on parole.
“I recently heard she’s still following Mitchell, carrying around his little, itty bible, and her refusal to come today seems like it’s just an indicator that she’s still in the same mindset the time she took Elizabeth,” he said.
On Instagram, Elizabeth agreed, writing, “the good news is she was not released. However what I find troubling is that regardless of her threat level she will be released in 2024, six years from now.”
Elizabeth wrote she planned on attending Tuesday’s hearing, but there was a mix up with the timing. Read her entire Instagram here:
It’s only 11:00am and today has already been an eventful day. This morning was the parole hearing for Wanda Barzee, one of the people who kidnapped and held me captive for nine months. The funny side of this morning was I got to the state prison once it was already over 😬, that was just due to a silly mix up. And the good news is she was not released. However what I find troubling is that regardless of her threat level she will be released in 2024, six years from now. It is possible that she could be paroled before then….hopefully not. I do not think I’m a vindictive or vengeful person, if change were truly possible in her case then perhaps parole/release could be justified. But I have recently learned that she is still carrying around a manuscript called,”The Book of Immanuel David Isaiah” and is reading from it. In this manuscript were the “revelations” Mitchell “received” from God to kidnap myself and 6 other young girls to all become his wives, it also “revealed” his other highly disturbing and dangerous ideas. This is proof to me that she hasn’t changed, and if the prior 15+ years hasn’t changed her I don’t see how the future years will. I will continue to pray that she will never be a threat to myself, my family, or any vulnerable person ever again. A lot can happen between now and the years to come so in the meantime I will continue to make my family my priority, working to advocate and protect victims and children, and live my life the best way I know how.
Other than reporters, Barzee’s trial lawyer, and folks affiliated with the corrections system, no one else attended the parole hearing, including Barzee herself.
Greg Johnson, the Director of Administrative Services with the Board of Pardons and Parole, said while she had the right to do so, she has also refused the legally necessary psychological evaluation to give them enough information to make a decision about her release.
This has essentially slowed the process for her own release.
Barzee’s trial lawyer Scott Williams said he was hoping to meet with Barzee before the hearing. He spoke up to the board that he believed Barzee already served the negotiated sentence since she testified against Smart’s other convicted kidnapper, Brian David Mitchell.
“I’m trying to understand how the state of Utah thinks they can hold her more than 15 years on a 15-year sentence maximum,” he said in an interview after the parole hearing.
The board said the complaint will be a part of their decision-making process.
“We will look into that thoroughly to make sure the board is relying on complete and accurate information and those dates are correctly calculated,” said Johnson.
It could take the Board of Pardons and Parole two to four weeks to make a decision. Johnson said they will also look into getting more psychological information from Barzee. He said they may grant a parole date, set another hearing, or decide she should remain incarcerated until January 29, 2024.