Elizabeth Smart to speak on captor’s release from prison

Elizabeth Smart to speak on captor’s release from prison

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The Latest on Elizabeth Smart’s reaction to the release of one of her kidnappers (all times local):

4:15 p.m.

Elizabeth Smart says she has no desire to talk to her kidnapper after her unexpected release from prison next week.

When asked during a news conference Thursday if she had any message for Wanda Barzee, Smart says she has nothing to say.

Smart says she forgave the 72-year-old several years ago but that forgiveness does not mean “allowing her back into my life.”

Smart says she made the decision a long time ago that she never wanted to see or talk to Barzee again.

Barzee and her husband, a former street preacher, abducted a then 14-year-old Smart from her Salt Lake City bedroom in 2002. Smart was recognized and rescued after nine months.

Utah authorities say they miscalculated the time Barzee already served in federal prison.

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4 p.m.

Elizabeth Smart says it appears there is no viable, legal recourse she can take to stop the release of one of her kidnappers.

Smart said at a news conference Thursday in Salt Lake City that she only found out about 72-year-old Wanda Barzee’s release shortly before the public did.

She says she is trying to learn as much information as she can and explore any options.

Her father, Ed Smart, was also present and said his daughter, as a kidnapping survivor, should have been notified long ago.

Barzee pleaded guilty to helping a former street preacher kidnap Smart in 2002 and keep her captive for nine months before the girl was found and rescued.

Utah authorities say they had miscalculated the time 72-year-old Wanda Barzee previously served in federal prison.

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3:45 p.m.

Elizabeth Smart said Thursday she is urging authorities to reconsider the planned release of one of her kidnappers, calling Wanda Barzee a danger to her and the community.

“I think she is a threat to any vulnerable person in our community,” Smart said at a press conference in Salt Lake City.

Barzee pleaded guilty to helping a former street preacher kidnap Smart in 2002 and keep her captive for nine months before the girl was found and rescued.

Smart was abducted from her Salt Lake City bedroom at knifepoint by street preacher Brian David Mitchell, who came in through an open kitchen window. The kidnapping triggered waves of fear around the country.

Attorney Scott Williams has said Barzee has been diagnosed with several mental illnesses, but he’s not concerned about her being a danger to the community.

Mitchell is serving a life sentence.

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3:40 p.m.

Elizabeth Smart is asking authorities to reconsider the planned release of one of her kidnappers, saying Wanda Barzee remains a threat to her.

Barzee will be freed next week after Utah authorities determined they had miscalculated the time she spent in federal custody.

12:48 p.m.

Elizabeth Smart is set to discuss the surprise announcement that one of the people who kidnapped her when she was 14 will be released from prison earlier than expected.

Smart will hold a news conference Thursday on the release of 72-year-old Wanda Barzee, who pleaded guilty to helping a former street preacher kidnap Smart in 2002. The girl was held captive for nine months before being found and rescued.

Barzee is expected to be freed next week after 15 years behind bars. Utah authorities had decided she should stay in prison for nearly six more years, but announced this week they had miscalculated the time.

Smart has called it “incomprehensible” that Barzee would be released Sept. 19 despite failing to undergo mental health evaluations or attend a June parole hearing.

Smart, now a 30-year-old speaker and activist, said in a statement Tuesday she was exploring her options.

The Utah Board of Pardons and Parole had denied Barzee early parole following the hearing, which she chose not to attend. They said she had also had refused to take a psychological exam and set a release date in January 2024.

But her attorney questioned the calculation of her release date, and on Tuesday the board agreed that she had served her time.

Attorney Scott Williams has said Barzee has been diagnosed with several mental illnesses, but he’s not concerned about her being a danger to the community.

Smart was abducted from her Salt Lake City bedroom at knifepoint by street preacher Brian David Mitchell, who came in through an open kitchen window. The kidnapping triggered waves of fear around the country.

Smart was found while walking with Barzee and Mitchell on a street in the suburb of Sandy, Utah, by people who recognized the couple from media reports.

Mitchell is serving a life sentence after being convicted of kidnapping and raping Smart. He and Barzee were married at one point.

Barzee was convicted of both state and federal crimes, and transferred to the Utah state prison in April 2016 after finishing a federal sentence in Texas. Barzee will be under federal supervision for five years after her release from prison.

Smart, now married with two children, has written a book about the ordeal and helped make a Lifetime movie and documentary. She is now a child safety activist who regularly gives speeches.