October 8, 2013

Elizabeth Smart recalls agony of near-rescues

In a new book, the woman who was held captive after being kidnapped from her bedroom at age 14 tells of her nine-month ordeal.

The Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

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In this photo from May, Elizabeth Smart talks with a reporter before an interview in Park City, Utah. More than a decade after her kidnapping and rescue grabbed national headlines, Smart is publishing a memoir of her ordeal. The 308 page book, titled “My Story,” was released by St. Martin’s Press on Monday.

The Associated Press

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Brian David Mitchell is escorted by a U.S. marshall as he arrives at the federal courthouse in Salt Lake City in December 2010. He is serving two life terms.

2010 Associated Press File Photo

It never returned. Mitchell took it as another favorable sign from God.

"Why didn't I cry out for help?" Smart reflects. The answer "comes down to fear."

The young girl believed Mitchell invincible. Despite years of misdeeds, he had never served more than a few days in jail.

After Smart's rescue, Mitchell wheedled his way through state courts for more than six years, leaving them hopelessly bogged down in hearings over his mental competence. Federal prosecutors took over, and a judge ruled Mitchell was faking mental illness.

Mitchell is serving two life terms after he was sentenced in 2011. A year earlier, Barzee was given 15 years for her role in Smart's kidnapping and sexual assault.

Mitchell managed to convince some psychiatrists he was insane. He shouted hymns and songs in court and ordered judges to "repent." Smart described a moment in his federal trial when Mitchell feigned collapse, with paramedics rushing into court.

Between gasps and moans on a gurney, Mitchell locked eyes with Smart for the first time in years. He offered an "evil grin" to show he could still control others, she writes. "I returned his cold stare, never looking away."

It was outside San Diego, where Mitchell took Barzee and Smart for winter at a homeless camp, that Smart devised a plan for freedom. She convinced Mitchell that God intended them to return to Salt Lake City.

On their arrival outside the city, police stopped the odd-looking trio, a middle-aged couple and young girl wearing filthy clothes, a gray wig and dark sunglasses, walking along a major metro street. Smart writes that before she identified herself, police seemed to know they had found her, asking, "Are you Elizabeth Smart?"

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