Correctional officers stand outside a gate at the Utah State Correctional Facility Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2018, in Draper, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

Woman who helped kidnap Elizabeth Smart released from prison

Smart was 14 years old when she was snatched from her Salt Lake City home in 2002 by street preacher Brian David Mitchell

Utah — A woman who helped kidnap Elizabeth Smart when she was a teenager and stood by as the Utah girl was sexually assaulted was released Wednesday after spending 15 years in prison.

Wanda Barzee, 72, quietly left the state prison in the Salt Lake City suburb of Draper, avoiding a throng of reporters gathered outside, spokeswoman Kaitlin Felsted said. She did not disclose where Barzee was going.

Her release followed a surprise announcement last week that Utah authorities had miscalculated the amount of time Barzee should spend behind bars.

Smart, now 30, has said she was shocked and disappointed by the move and hopes Barzee will be closely watched and given treatment.

Smart has recalled some of the horrors she experienced as a 14-year-old when she was snatched from her Salt Lake City home in 2002 by Barzee’s then-husband, street preacher Brian David Mitchell. He entered the house through an open kitchen window in the kidnapping that triggered fear around the country.

Smart said last week that Barzee saw her as a slave during the nine months she was held by the couple and encouraged Mitchell to rape her.

“So do I believe she’s dangerous? Yes,” Smart said.

Her father Ed Smart said Wednesday that he’s glad Barzee will be watched over closely by federal agents during her five years of supervised release, but he’s concerned about reports that she still believes Mitchell’s ideas.

Mitchell’s so-called divine revelations prompted her to help kidnap his daughter and even sit next to her as Mitchell raped her, so he’s worried Barzee remains capable of abusing another child.

“My hope is that she won’t be a problem,” he said. “I think the way she treated Elizabeth was such that she doesn’t seem to have any psychic impairment, and I just don’t want to see her abuse some other child.”

Smart, now a married mother and activist for victims’ rights, posted on Instagram over the weekend that she’s fearful of Barzee and has taken precautions but refuses to let her release disrupt the life she’s built.

“I lived in absolute fear and terror for nine months, no matter the outcome I will not do so again,” Smart wrote.

As a condition of her release, Barzee was placed on the Utah sex offender registry, but her address was listed online Wednesday as the Utah prison. Authorities did not immediately return messages seeking details on when the information would be updated.

Barzee’s attorney, Scott Williams, has said his client has been diagnosed with several mental illnesses, but he’s not concerned about her being a danger to the community.

Federal agents have said Barzee won’t be homeless but declined to say whether she will live in a private home or a facility. Her mug shot on the sex-offender registry shows her with a wide smile, blue eyes and chin-length grey hair.

Barzee’s niece Tina Mace said her aunt’s testimony against Mitchell seemed like a turning point, but her mental state appears to have changed in prison. Mace said she’s unaware of any family members who would give Barzee a place to live.

Barzee will be under federal supervision for five years. She could be returned to prison if she violates terms that include mental health treatment and an order against contacting Smart and her family.

Smart was found while walking with Barzee and Mitchell on a street in suburban Sandy by people who recognized the abductors from media reports.

Mitchell is serving a life sentence after being convicted of kidnapping and raping Smart.

Barzee was treated at Utah State Hospital for about five years following her arrest. She testified in 2010 against Mitchell and was given a plea deal on state and federal charges. She was transferred to the Utah prison in 2016 after finishing a federal sentence in Texas.

The Utah Board of Pardons and Parole initially set a 2024 release date after Barzee decided against attending her own parole hearing in June. Her attorney questioned then whether the term included time Barzee had served in a federal prison. The board decided last week that she had served her sentence.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Dean Brody heads to Red Deer with stripped down, acoustic show

Dirt Road Stories tour offers a kitchen party lodge-type experience

Jesse Todd hat trick leads Lacombe Generals over Innisfail

6-5 victory puts Lacombe in first place heading into Rosetown matchup

WATCH: Red Deerians gather for Remembrance Day

Remembrance Day 2018 marks the 100th year anniversary of the end of World War I.

Red Deerians can recognize Remembrance Day with two public services

The Red Deer Legion and Korean War Veterans’ Association will hold the services

WATCH: The Great Indoors Market at Bower Place officially launches

Red Deerians took in the sights and sounds of many vendors and activities Nov. 10th

VIDEO: Marvel Comics’ Stan Lee dies

Marvel co-creator was well-known for making cameo appearances in superhero movies

Calgarians head to the polls to declare ‘yea’ or ‘nay’ on Winter Games

The question “are you for or are you against hosting the 2026 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games?” was to be posed to them Tuesday in a plebiscite to help determine whether the city should move ahead with a bid.

Heir’s big birthday: 70 candles lined up for Prince Charles

Prince Charles turns 70 Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2018, still serving in the heir to the throne role he has filled since he was a young child.

Trudeau lays down challenge to companies in bid to boost trade with Asia

“Building the relationships, building the connections, building the facility and also changing mindsets — getting Canadian companies to see the opportunities we have around the world to partner and invest.”

CNN sues Trump, demanding return of Acosta to White House

CNN is asking for an immediate restraining order to return Acosta to the White House.

Amazon to split second HQ between New York, Virginia

Official decision expected later Tuesday to end competition between North American cities to win bid and its promise of 50,000 jobs

US trial to tell epic tale of Mexican drug lord “El Chapo”

Guzman’s long-awaited U.S. trial begins Tuesday in New York

Northern California wildfire is deadliest in state history

Holding out slim hope as crews search for more fire dead; 42 already killed in blaze

VIDEO: Newcomer kids see first Canadian snowfall

Children arrived in Canada with their mother and two siblings last week from Eritrea

Most Read