Elizabeth Smart kidnapper Wanda Barzee denied parole

Wanda Barzee, left, has been denied parole in connection with the 2002 kidnapping of Elizabeth Smart, seen at right in 2017, from her Salt Lake City home, as well as a plot to kidnap Smart's cousin. Barzee, 72, is serving a 15-year sentence in the Utah State Prison, while her husband and mastermind of the kidnapping, Brian David Mitchell, serves life in federal prison.
Caption
Wanda Barzee, left, has been denied parole in connection with the 2002 kidnapping of Elizabeth Smart, seen at right in 2017, from her Salt Lake City home, as well as a plot to kidnap Smart's cousin. Barzee, 72, is serving a 15-year sentence in the Utah State Prison, while her husband and mastermind of the kidnapping, Brian David Mitchell, serves life in federal prison.

Credit: AP Photos

Credit: AP Photos

One of the two people convicted in the 2002 kidnapping of Elizabeth Smart has been denied parole and will remain in the Utah State Prison until at least 2023.

Wanda Barzee, 72, is serving up to 15 years in state prison for a plot she and her husband, Brian David Mitchell, had to kidnap Smart's cousin in July 2002, about a month after they abducted the then-14-year-old Smart from her bedroom. According to the Salt Lake Tribune, Barzee was released from a federal prison in Texas in 2016, having completed her sentence for kidnapping Smart.

The Utah Board of Pardons & Parole determined in their decision, which was released Tuesday, that Barzee's time in federal prison will not count as time served toward her state prison sentence, the Tribune reported. She served only eight years of a 15-year federal sentence because the judge who sentenced her in 2010 gave her credit for seven years already served.

If Barzee serves the entire 15 years of her state sentence, she will be released in 2024. Her next parole hearing is slated for a year before her sentence ends.

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Last month's parole hearing was Barzee's first, but the inmate refused to attend, FOX13 in Salt Lake City reported. She has also refused to participate in psychological exams that are mandatory for her to achieve an early release.

“That has not been done to date,” Angela Micklos, a member of the parole board, told the news station last month.

Psychological evaluations are required in the case because Barzee pleaded guilty but mentally ill to the attempted kidnapping charge. The Tribune reported that if mental health experts had given positive evaluations of Barzee, the Smart family would not have objected to her release.

Wanda Barzee sits with her attorney, Scott Williams, at her competency hearing Dec. 11, 2003, in Salt Lake City, Utah. Barzee and her husband, Brian David Mitchell, are in prison in connection with the 2002 kidnapping of Elizabeth Smart.
Caption
Wanda Barzee sits with her attorney, Scott Williams, at her competency hearing Dec. 11, 2003, in Salt Lake City, Utah. Barzee and her husband, Brian David Mitchell, are in prison in connection with the 2002 kidnapping of Elizabeth Smart.

Credit: AP Photo

Credit: AP Photo

Like Barzee, Elizabeth Smart did not attend the hearing, but her father, Ed Smart, got to the hearing after it had already concluded, FOX13 reported. He told reporters that he believes Barzee is still loyal to her husband, whom she helped abduct Elizabeth Smart so the teen could serve as a "sister wife" for Mitchell.

"I recently heard she's still following Mitchell," Ed Smart said. "(She) carries around his little bitty Bible and her refusal to come today seems like an indicator that she's still of the same mindset she was at the time she took Elizabeth."

Elizabeth Smart remained missing for nine months before a sharp-eyed witness spotted her with Mitchell and Barzee in Sandy, a city just about 20 miles from the Smart home in Salt Lake City. She later testified that she was kept tied up and was repeatedly sexually assaulted by Mitchell.

Mitchell also threatened to kill her and her family if she attempted to escape.

Brian David Mitchell, in shackles, sings a hymn before being removed from the courtroom during his competency hearing Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2005, in Salt Lake City. Mitchell, who kidnapped Elizabeth Smart from her bedroom in 2002, was sentenced in 2011 to life in federal prison.
Caption
Brian David Mitchell, in shackles, sings a hymn before being removed from the courtroom during his competency hearing Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2005, in Salt Lake City. Mitchell, who kidnapped Elizabeth Smart from her bedroom in 2002, was sentenced in 2011 to life in federal prison.

Credit: AP Photo

Credit: AP Photo

Mitchell was not unknown to the teen, but she knew him as Immanuel, a local homeless man who her father once hired to do work on the family’s house. Smart’s then-9-year-old sister, who witnessed the abduction, realized months after the kidnapping who her sister’s abductor was and the family alerted authorities.

Smart was found with Mitchell and Barzee a few weeks later, ABC News reported in 2005.

Mitchell was sentenced to life in federal prison in 2011 following years of delays in the case because he was found mentally unfit to stand trial. When his trial was able to proceed, he repeatedly had to be removed from the courtroom because he would break out in song, CBS News reported.

Smart, now 30, is an author and activist for child safety, according to her website. She and her husband have two children.

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.

A post shared by Elizabeth Smart (@elizabeth_smart_official) on

She wrote on Instagram last month that, while she is glad Barzee remains in prison, she worries about the woman's sentence ending in six years.

“I will continue to pray that she will never be a threat to myself, my family, or any vulnerable person ever again,” Smart wrote. “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.”