Elizabeth Smart Survived 9-Month Kidnapping — Complete Timeline of Her Abduction and Aftermath

A couple held Elizabeth Smart in captivity for nine months. They raped and abused the teen. Here's what you should know about her kidnap, rescue, and aftermath.

A few days before Elizabeth Smart, then 14, completed middle school in June 2002, a street preacher Brian David Mitchell and his wife, Wanda Barzee, took her from her Salt Lake City home.

While at a campsite, Smart was repeatedly raped, starved, and forced to watch pornography and drink alcohol. Her captors sometimes brought her to town while they acquired provisions.

Matthew Gilmour and Elizabeth Smart on May 22, 2018 in Beverly Hills, California | Photo: Getty Images

Matthew Gilmour and Elizabeth Smart on May 22, 2018 in Beverly Hills, California | Photo: Getty Images

This was one of those horror stories with a happy ending – as the clues led to the teenager's safe return in less than a year after her kidnapping. Here is Smart's story in its entirety:

SMART MET MITCHELL

In 2001, Smart and her mother, Lois, saw Mitchell panhandling in downtown Salt Lake City. Lois gave him five dollars and suggested he works on the family roof. The beggar accepted the job offer.

SMART WAS KIDNAPPED

In June 2002, an early morning voice and a knife pressing on Smart's throat jolted her out of bed. She then had to endure a tiresome walk up a steep mountain until they reached a campsite.

SMART WAS TAKEN TO CALIFORNIA

In September 2002, Mitchell, Barzee, and Smart spent a few months camping and eating at homeless shelters in the San Diego area. During that time, Mitchell also attempted to kidnap another girl.

SMART'S SISTER REMEMBERS KIDNAPPER

In October 2002, as she thumbed through the Guinness Book of World Records, Mary Katherine suddenly remembered the homeless handyman. His voice sounded like the one that ordered her sister out of the room.

MITCHELL'S POLICE SKETCH

In February 2003, Mitchell's stepson recognized him from a sketch and a photo in an episode of "America's Most Wanted." Meanwhile, a woman revealed that the suspect might be her brother.

SMART WAS SAVED

In March 2003, Smart was found walking the street with her two captors in Sandy, Utah. Following her discovery, police accompanied Smart to the local station for questioning, where she was reunited with her family.

INDICTED FOR FEDERAL CRIMES

In March 2008, the indictment of Mitchell and Barzee by a federal grand jury resulted in charges of interstate kidnapping and unlawful transportation of a minor. The case was transferred to federal court in October.

SMART'S STORY WAS TOLD

In November 2010, Smart recounted sexual abuse and horrendous conditions, as well as an incident where she was nearly rescued by a detective in a library but refused to ask for help.

LIFE SENTENCE IN PRISON

Mitchell faced Smart shortly before receiving a life sentence in May 2011. She told him that he had taken nine months of her life from her. She also said to him that he would be held accountable for those actions.

BARZEE WAS RELEASED FROM JAIL

In September 2018, Barzee, who had been serving a 15-year sentence, was unexpectedly credited time served by the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole, moving her release date up from 2024.

BECAME AN ADVOCATE

Smart is now an advocate for child safety and survivors of kidnappings and sexual abuse. However, she admitted in November 2020 that she's still reluctant to discuss it with her parents in detail.

ⓘ NEWS.AMOMAMA.COM does not support or promote any kind of violence, self-harm, or abusive behavior. We raise awareness about these issues to help potential victims seek professional counseling and prevent anyone from getting hurt. NEWS.AMOMAMA.COM speaks out against the above mentioned and advocates for a healthy discussion about the instances of violence, abuse, sexual misconduct, animal cruelty, abuse etc. that benefits the victims. We also encourage everyone to report any crime incident they witness as soon as possible.

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