DRAPER, Utah (AP) — A woman convicted of helping a former street
preacher kidnap then-Utah teenager Elizabeth Smart from her Salt Lake
City home in 2002 refused to attend a hearing Tuesday before the state
parole board that could have helped her get out of prison earlier.
Wanda Barzee, 72, also refused to take undergo a psychological
evaluation she would need to get out before her scheduled release in
January 2024, Angela Micklos said, a member of the Utah Board of Pardons
and Parole. She ran the brief hearing at the state prison in the Salt
Lake City suburb of Draper, Utah.
Smart’s abduction from her bedroom at knifepoint by a man who came in
through an open kitchen window triggered waves of fear among parents
everywhere. The frantic search for Smart and the mystery about who took
her captivated the nation.
She was found nine months later while walking with Barzee and the
former street preacher, Brian David Mitchell, on a street in the suburb
of Sandy, Utah, by people who recognized the couple from media reports
as suspects in Smart’s kidnapping.
Smart, now 30 and married with two children, has since written a book
about the harrowing ordeal and recently helped make a Lifetime movie
and documentary about the crime and her life. She is now a child safety
activist who regularly gives speeches.
Smart posted on her Instagram account that she’s not a vindictive
person but that she’s worried about Barzee’s scheduled release in 2024
after learning that Barzee is still carrying around a manuscript
containing revelations Mitchell said he received from God that told him
to kidnap Smart. She said the manuscript also contains other “disturbing
and dangerous ideas.” She didn’t say how she knows Barzee has the book.
“This is proof to me that she hasn’t changed, and if the prior
15-plus years hasn’t changed her,” Smart wrote, “I don’t see how the
future years will.”
Her father, Ed Smart, who came to the hearing, said Barzee’s refusal
to attend or take the psychological exam seems to indicate she had the
same mindset when she kidnapped his daughter and held her captive.
“It’s Barzee as usual,” Ed Smart said. “I would hate for her to have the opportunity to do that again to someone else.”
Mitchell is serving a life sentence after being convicted of
kidnapping and raping Smart. He and Barzee were married at one point.
Before the kidnapping, the Smart family had paid Mitchell to do
handyman work at the house after running into him in downtown Salt Lake
City and thinking he was just a man down on his luck.
Barzee was transferred from federal prison to Utah state prison in
2016 to serve her time for an aggravated kidnapping charge, Greg Johnson
said, spokesman for the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole.
Barzee’s attorney at trial, Scott Williams, said after the hearing
that he believes his former client should be released because she has
served the agreed-upon years as established in a plea agreement. Johnson
said officials will review the court records to assess that claim.
Williams said he hasn’t been in touch with Barzee for about a year
and doesn’t know why she didn’t attend the hearing or take the
psychological examination. He said she has been diagnosed with several
Though Barzee didn’t show up, the parole board will still take her
case under advisement and issue a decision in the next two to four
weeks, Johnson said. She was denied early release after her last parole
hearing in 2011.
Barzee’s refusal to take the psychological exam or attend the hearing
leaves her and the board “guessing about what her status is,” Micklos