Elizabeth Smart Reacts To Barzee’s Pending Release From Prison
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Elizabeth Smart spoke publicly for the first time after the state officials announced that Wanda Barzee, one of her captors, would be released from prison next week.
Barzee was the wife of Brian David Mitchell, and was convicted of helping kidnap Smart and hold her hostage for nine months from 2002 to 2003. Smart, now a mother, said she believes her former captor is still a threat to her and the community.
“Do I believe she’s dangerous? Yes, but not just to me. I believe she is a danger and a threat to any vulnerable person in our community, which is why I think our community should be worried,” Smart said at a press conference Thursday.
Smart said she forgave Barzee years ago, but she vowed that she would never spend time thinking about her, or ever see her or talk to her again.
In June, Smart said, she was told Barzee would not be let out of prison until January 2024. Then last week, she found out the release date had been moved up by over five years, and just a week after the announcement.
“I only found out shortly before everybody else did – and yes, it was a big shock,” said Smart.
Barzee is slated to be released next Wednesday.
Smart has urged leaders of the Utah Parole Board to strongly reconsider their decision.
“Really look at her mental status and see if they really, honestly, truly feel like she is no longer a threat, and she is ready to be released,“ she said
Smart said it appeared that she had no viable recourse at this time, and Barzee will likely be released. A former US Attorney familiar with the case said that was likely.
It was still hard for Smart to comprehend the release, based on the way Barzee treated her when she was held captive more then 15 years ago.
“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 being raped, but encourage her husband to continue to rape me,” said Smart.
She has also appealed to Barzee’s family to take steps to have her civilly committed.
Barzee, now 72 years old, was convicted of helping Brian David Mitchell kidnap Smart and hold her captive for nine months when she was 14 years old.
“Wanda Barzee saw me as her slave,” Smart said. “She called me her handmaiden, and she never hesitated to let her displeasure with me be known.“
Smart said Barzee was not just following Mitchell‘s orders.
“She in her own right abused me just as much as he did,“ she said.
Smart said she won’t live in fear, but she will take precautions for her own safety, and said others in the community should do the same.
Smart has kept herself busy as a speaker nationwide, and as a mother expecting her third child in the next few months.