Elizabeth Smart was shocked to learn her kidnapper, Wanda Barzee, is set for prison release in less than week. On Thursday, she pleaded with officials to keep Barzee behind bars for the sake of “any vulnerable person in our community.”
Barzee, whose been in prison for the past 15 years for kidnapping then-teen Elizabeth Smart in 2002, was expected serve at least another five years in prison, according to FaithWire. Yet, since she fulfilled her federal prison sentence, which ran concurrent with her state prison sentence, officials said Barzee’s prison time is complete. She’s scheduled for release on September 19.
The surprising news doesn’t sit well with Smart, who was 14 when Barzee’s husband, Brian David Mitchell, snuck into the kitchen window at Smart’s Salt Lake City home in 2002, kidnapped her at knife point, then forced into nearby woods, where he raped her repeatedly. For the next nine months, Mitchell held Smart captive as a sex slave and a second “wife” as Barzee encouraged his behavior.
“She is a woman who had six children 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,” Smart said during an unscheduled media brief on Thursday. “So do I believe she’s dangerous? Yes.”
Smart understands that it’s a long shot to keep Barzee behind bars, but regardless, she’s pleading with anyone in power to hear her out and remember her story.
“I would urge the powers that be, and anyone who works under them, to really, strongly reconsider this situation, to look at all the facts, look at her mental status, and see if they really and honestly truly feel like she is no longer a threat and that she is ready to be released.”
Smart’s attorney, Brett Tolman, indicated that Barzee must follow stringent guidelines set forth by the parole board. She’s not allowed to contact anyone from the Smart family and must undergo mental health treatment.
The conditions of Barzee’s release, however, didn’t help to alleviate Smart’s fear.
“I think people should realize that she is dangerous and that she did appalling things while I was in captivity. … I know the depth of her depravity and so I feel like the community should be educated on it, but also, I think as a community, we need to once again take a second look at our judicial system.”
As CrimeOnline previously reported, Smart was raped almost daily by Mitchell. During his trial, Smart told the jury that Mitchell treated her “like an animal,” and forced her to drink alcohol and smoke cigarettes. He also forced her to watch him have sex with Barzee. Further, he often denied her food and water as a means to control her and have Smart completely dependent upon him.
The couple kept Smart captive for nearly a year, until authorities found her walking down a street in Sandy, a suburb of Salt Lake City just 18 miles from her family’s residence. Smart was walking alongside Barzee and Mitchell when police stopped them.
In 2011, Mitchell received life in prison while Barzee received 15 years in federal prison, in addition to the concurrent sentence of to one to 15 years in state prison. The parole board stated it had to count Barzee’s time served in federal prison toward her state sentence.
“Upon further review and advice from legal counsel, the board must count time spent in federal custody toward Ms. Barzee’s state sentence,” director of administrative services, Greg Johnson, wrote.
[Feature Photo: Elizabeth Smart via AP/Rick Bowmer]