Wanda Barzee, the woman who served 15 years bars for her part in the 2002 abduction of Elizabeth Smart, is staying at a Salt Like City hotel. The news comes days after family members said they wouldn’t allow her to live with them upon her release from prison.
FOX News reports that Barzee’s address is listed as an extended stay hotel in South Salt Lake City, which apparently concerns some of the other residents. Vanessa Phillips, a mother of two who moved to the hotel a few months ago, said it “pisses me off” when asked about Barzee. She indicated she saw Barzee on Wednesday, the day she moved in, but didn’t realize who it was at first.
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“I remember her face,” Phillips said. “I smiled– I always smile at everyone around here, they’re all homeless and I say hi– not realizing it was her, though.”
According to Utah’s sex offender registry, Barzee’s new residence is off of W 3300 S.
Another resident, Leann Bain, who has lived at the hotel for over a year, told the outlet she was frightened to live so close to Barzee. Although it’s been 15 years since Barzee’s arrest, it’s not something that the community in general has forgotten.
“It’s very scary. I feel for the family. I feel for Elizabeth.”
Part of Barzee’s probation terms upon her prison release requires her to be home by 9 p.m. each night and undergo mental health treatment. Regardless, Phillips said she’s now thinking of moving.
“It isn’t right,” Phillips added.
Barzee’s obtained her new lodging after a federal judge signed an order for “emergency housing” on Wednesday. It came days after family members reportedly refused to allow the kidnapper to live with them.
As CrimeOnline previously reported, Barzee’s family members could not or would not offer her housing, at least according to her niece, the Salt Lake Tribune reported.
“From what I know, no family can take her in or would take her in,” Barzee’s niece Tina Mace reportedly said. “I hope the state puts her in a mental hospital, and they never let her out.”
Rhonda McLeod, Barzee’s oldest daughter, is among one of the family members who refuse to take her in.
“Where else is she supposed to go besides prison or the Utah state mental hospital?” McLeaod wrote in an email reply, according to the outlet.
The announcement of Barzee’s prison release came as a shock not only to family members, but also to Smart, now 30, who had no idea her captor was scheduled for release until last week.
In 2002, Barzee conspired with her husband, Brian David Mitchell, who kidnapped Smart from her family home. Mitchell held Smart, then 14, at knifepoint in her own bedroom and forced her out of her home in the middle of the night.
Mitchell then led Smart into a nearby secluded area and forced to go through a “marriage” with him, claiming her to be his new wife. According to Smart, Mitchell forced her through woods while she wore only her pajamas, then raped her after the mock marriage ceremony. He then shackled her to a wire between two trees while Barzee fully cooperated and was complicit in the kidnapping.
For the next nine months, 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 for nine months 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 a concurrent sentence of to one to 15 years in state prison. The parole board stated Barzee completed her sentence, and despite public outrage and protest, was released on September 19.
— Inside Edition (@InsideEdition) September 20, 2018
Is Wanda Barzee a Threat?
According to Barzee’s lawyer, the 72-year-old simply wants to go on with her life and poses no threat to the community.
“Ms. Barzee’s singular desire is to comply with all conditions of her release and to be left alone,” her lawyer, Scott Williams, said.
Yet, Smart is concerned that Barzee hasn’t changed despite over a decade spent in prison. On Tuesday, Smart told “Good Morning America” that Barzee allegedly carried around a “book of revelations” while in prison, written by her husband, which details plans of kidnapping young girls.
“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 said. “Clearly she hasn’t let go.”
Barzee will return to prison if she has any contact with Smart or any of Smart’s family members.
[Feature Photo: Wanda Barzee/Utah State Prison]