Lois and her husband Ed often hired homeless people to do odd jobs at their home in the
But if the Smarts had known more about Emmanuel, they might not have invited him to their home and introduced him to their six children. His real name was Brian David Mitchell, age 48, and he had only recently cleaned himself up to be more presentable for panhandling. Normally his hair and beard were long and shaggy, and he usually wore white robes that gave him the appearance of a Biblical prophet.
Brian David Mitchell had a troubled background. His father, Shirl Mitchell, a social worker, had some odd ideas about childrearing. He tried to teach his eight-year-old son about sex by showing the boy graphic pictures from a medical journal and leaving other sexual material around the house where Brian could find it. When Brian David Mitchell was twelve, his father drove him to an unfamiliar part of
By 1980 Mitchell had returned to
On the same day that his divorce was granted, Brian David Mitchell married his third wife, Wanda Barzee, a divorcee six years older than him who had six children of her own. Mitchell's increasingly extreme religious practices alienated Barzee's children, and they eventually moved out of the house. He declared that he spoke to angels and said that he was a prophet of God guided by visions. His new wife treated him like a holy man and took to calling herself "God Adorneth." Together they wandered the streets of
Excommunication did not deter Mitchell. He wrote his own gospel, "The Book of Immanuel David Isaiah" and declared that he was sent by God to return the Mormon Church to its fundamental values, including the practice of polygamy. In one of his writings he urged his wife to accept "seven times seven sisters" into their family.
Lois Smart might have thought twice on that November day when she invited Emmanuel to her home if she knew that his fervent desire was to have 49 more wives.
Six months later, at about 2:00 A.M. on June 5, 2002, nine-year-old Mary Katherine Smart woke from a sound sleep and discovered that her sister, fourteen-year-old Elizabeth Smart, was not on her side of the queen-sized bed they shared. She saw that
As described in the book, In Plain Sight by the girls' uncle, Tom Smart, and Lee Benson, Elizabeth Smart, who was wearing red silk pajamas, was moving around the mostly dark room. She stubbed her toe on something, and Mary Katherine heard her say, "Ouch!"
The man told her in a whisper to be quiet and threatened to kill her and her family if she didn't obey. His voice was soft and seemed vaguely familiar to Mary Katherine.
Petrified, Mary Katherine pretended to be asleep, but through half-closed lids she saw the man's hands and the dark hair that covered the backs of them. He wore a light-colored cap and a light-colored jacket and didn't seem to be much taller than
"Why are you taking me?" Elizabeth Smart asked.
Mary Katherine wasn't sure, but she thought she heard the man say, "For ransom or hostage."
Mary Katherine waited until she thought it was safe, then crept out of bed and tiptoed to the doorway. She peered out into the hallway and saw Elizabeth and the man coming out of one of her brothers' bedrooms. Terrified that the man would come back and take her, she ran back to bed and shut her eyes. She stayed that way for almost two hours, too scared to move.
Shortly before , Mary Katherine threw a blanket around herself and summoned the courage to go to her parents' bedroom. She woke her father and told him that
Ed Smart's first thought was that Mary Katherine had had a nightmare. After all it had been a difficult week. The child's grandfather, Lois's father, had died the week before, and the funeral had been the previous day. Elizabeth and Mary Katherine had played their harps at the viewing at the funeral parlor. Ed Smart also knew that
Unable to find
The police arrived at , and the search for Elizabeth Smart began.
The police were not the first to arrive at the Smarts' home on
It was soon determined that the kidnapper had entered the house through a kitchen window. He had left a lawn chair under the window, which the Smarts had forgotten to lock. The intruder had cut through the window screen and climbed in over the counter, careful not to disturb anything.
Police bloodhounds attempted to pick up
By local television and radio stations broadcast emergency bulletins alerting the public that
Gordon B. Hinkley, the president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, reached out to the Smart family and offered his help. Hinkley notified LDS churches in five states, distributing
Bob Smither of the
Tom Smart, Ed's oldest brother and a journalist for the Deseret Morning News, became the spokesman for the family. Thousands of missing posters were printed, featuring several photos of
The Smarts had recently put their million-dollar house on the market, and in the past few months they had done renovations and repairs to get the house ready for sale. The police compiled a list of contractors, repairmen, and real-estate brokers who had been at the house so they could be interviewed. They also checked the Smarts' home computers to see if a sexual predator might have approached
On June 5 Ed Smart emerged from the house and faced a gang of reporters and television journalists who had camped out on the curb. Wrestling with his emotions and nearly overcome with grief, Ed stepped up to the microphones and spoke directly to his daughter. "
Fighting back tears, he then addressed the kidnapper: "Please let her go. Please!"
The next day Ed and Lois announced that private donors had put together a $250,000 reward for information that would bring back their daughter.
Charlie Miller was among the dozens of people the police interviewed in connection with Elizabeth Smart's disappearance. Miller was the milkman in the Smarts' neighborhood, delivering fresh milk products to homes the old-fashioned way. He told police that on Monday, June 3, at around —43 hours before
The next Sunday a vigil for
Later that day a little boy playing in the high weeds along a road near his home found a set of abandoned license plates—266HJH. The boy brought the plates home, and his father notified the police. Fingerprints lifted from the plates matched a 26-year-old man named Bret Michael Edmunds who was wanted for assaulting a police officer.
Edmunds was six feet two inches tall. Mary Katherine Smart had said that the man who took her sister was much shorter. But Edmunds had done work for people in the Smarts' neighborhood, so he immediately became a person of interest. The police wanted to talk to him, but despite extensive efforts to find him, Edmunds could not be located.
Bret Michael Edmunds was just one person on a long list of possible suspects the police had assembled. Another man, Richard Albert Ricci, soon shot to the top of that list. Ricci had done some painting and yard work for the Smarts in the spring of 2001. He was outgoing and talkative, and the family liked him. Ed Smart had even struck a deal with Ricci, agreeing to give the handyman his white 1990 Jeep Cherokee in exchange for additional work on his home. But as the police checked into the backgrounds of people who had worked at the Smarts' home, they discovered that Ricci was an ex-con who had stolen in the past to support a heroin habit. He had also abused prescription drugs and was an alcoholic. His modus was to sneak into the homes of people he worked for and steal items from the children's rooms, items that might be assumed to have been carelessly lost rather than stolen.
The more the police dug into Ricci's past, the worse it got. Ricci, 48, had a rap sheet that started when he was 19. He was a four-time parole violator, and the most serious of his many crimes was the shooting of a
Ricci and his wife allowed the police to search his home without a warrant and declined to get legal representation. Buried in the tomato patch, investigators found perfume bottles, jewelry, and a wine glass containing seashells. Ed Smart identified these as items that had been missing from his home. A search of Ricci's in-laws' home produced a machete and a light-colored hat.
Ed Smart had a hard time accepting that a man he had trusted could have done anything to harm his daughter, but in time he came to believe that even if Ricci wasn't the actual culprit, he was somehow involved and knew more than he was saying.
On June 14 the police arrested Ricci on a parole violation charge. They didn't want him going anywhere.
At this point Brian David Mitchell, a.k.a. Emmanuel, was not high on the list of possible suspects, and if the police had tried to locate him, it would have been extremely difficult to find him because he was living in the wilderness of Dry Creek Canyon outside of Salt Lake City with his wife, Wanda Barzee, and the person he intended to take as his second wife, Elizabeth Smart.
On the night of the kidnapping, Mitchell had forced
Mitchell, a self-anointed priest, planned to perform the marriage ceremony that would join him to
Mitchell and Barzee kept Elizabeth imprisoned at their makeshift compound in the canyon from June 5 until August 8 when Salt Lake City residents started seeing the familiar robed couple, who they sometimes referred to as "Joseph and Mary," with a similarly dressed young girl. Barzee and Elizabeth wore veils that covered the lower halves of their faces. The couple took
The people who saw the unusual trio considered them eccentric but harmless characters. They were often spotted around town. Hikers and bicyclists ran into them in the canyon. No one ever considered the possibility that this girl in the dirty white robes could be the kidnapped teenager whose photograph was on posters all over the state. And they never considered the possibility that she was with this unconventional couple because she was suffered from Stockholm Syndrome, the psychological condition in which a victim comes to identify and sympathize with her oppressors, just as heiress Patty Hearst had when she was held captive in 1974.
When a child is abducted, the police cannot rule out family members as possible suspects, so the
In the meantime the search for drifter Bret Michael Edmunds continued. Ten days after the manhunt began, the police located him in
Federal marshals guarded Edmunds until investigators from
Attention now turned to handyman Richard Ricci. On August 27, six and a half weeks after his arrest, Ricci was taken to Third District Court for a brief hearing on burglary charges. Ed and Lois Smart attended the hearing, desperate for some kind of sign from him that he knew where
That evening in jail Ricci called a guard to his cell, complaining of a severe headache and shortness of breath. Within minutes he collapse and fell unconscious. He was rushed to
When the Smarts learned of Ricci's condition, they panicked. What if Ricci did know something about
The Smarts now felt that they had lost their best chance to learn what had happened to their daughter.
One night in October 2002, Mary Katherine Smart, who was now 10 years old, walked into her parents' bedroom and went over to her father: "I think I know who it is," she told him. "Emmanuel."
She explained that she had been flipping through the Guinness Book of World Records, and it suddenly came to her. The man she had seen in her bedroom, the man who took her sister Elizabeth, was the homeless man who had worked at their house for half a day nearly a year ago.
Ed Smart told the police what Mary Katherine told him, but their response was lukewarm. Emmanuel was already on the long list of people they wanted to interview, and they were a little skeptical of the ten-year-old's sudden recovered memory. The police still considered the late Richard Ricci their prime suspect and conducted their investigation under that theory. Besides, they had already searched their computerized files for anyone who used the alias "Emmanuel" and had come up empty. They didn't realize that Brian David Mitchell was indeed in their system, having been arrested for shoplifting in September. Unfortunately the arresting officer had entered his name as "Immanuel."
Impatient with the police's investigation and doubtful that Ricci was the true culprit, the Smarts decided to initiate their own efforts to find their daughter. They contacted John Walsh, the host of America's Most Wanted, who had just started a daytime talk show. America's Most Wanted had previously given some coverage to
"Their young daughter has now said that she believed that Ricci wasn't the guy in there that night," Walsh told King on national television, "that it may have been another guy that did some work on the roof, an itinerant guy...." Walsh promised that America's Most Wanted would stay on the case.
Derrick Thompson happened to be watching the show from his home that night. His jaw dropped when he heard the description of Emmanuel and saw the sketches. He immediately called his brother, Mark, to tell him to turn on the TV. Derrick and Mark were Wanda Barzee's sons. Mitchell was their stepfather. They decided to go out and try to find Mitchell and their mother.
Mitchell's ex-wife Debbie also saw that episode of America's Most Wanted and strongly felt that "Emmanuel" was the man she had once been her husband. She called the police and told them all she knew about Mitchell, including her daughter's memories of being sexually abused by him. It was her opinion that if Mitchell was the kidnapper, he would not have killed
New information was now flowing in via the television show. The Smarts felt that this was a positive development, but they needed the police to evaluate these leads. However, there was one critical piece of information no one knew at this point. On the day the show aired, Mitchell was already in police custody in
Mitchell, Barzee, and Elizabeth had left
But preaching wasn't the only thing on Mitchell's mind. He wanted to take another wife and had set his sights on the twelve-year-old daughter of an LDS church official in a neighboring community. Mitchell tied back his long hair, put on jeans and a checked shirt, and went to Sunday services, pretending to be interested in learning more about the religion. Virl Kemp, the father of his target, invited Mitchell, who had introduced himself as "Peter," to his home for dinner, hoping to answer any of the man's questions about the church. During the meal, Kemp got the impression from Mitchell's questions that he knew a lot more about the LDS church than he was letting on. Mitchell's real purpose was to case out the house. Later that winter he tried to break in to kidnap Kemp's daughter just as he had kidnapped
Several weeks later, on
In the meantime Barzee became frantic when Mitchell did not return to their makeshift camp in the woods, one of several Mitchell had set up in the area. Barzee ran to another campsite where Mitchell had built an altar, which they called
When Mitchell finally got his hearing, he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of vandalism. The judge gave him three years of probation, a $250 fine, and a stern warning to stay away from any church that doesn't want him on their property. Mitchell, who insisted that his name was "Michael Jenson," promised to follow the judge's orders and said that the only reason he had broken into the preschool was because he had gotten drunk that night. Many people would later attest to the fact that Emmanuel had a taste for beer.
Two weeks later on March 1, America's Most Wanted broadcast an update on the Elizabeth Smart case with the photos of Mitchell provided by Barzee's sons. A viewer from
That same week a librarian at the
On March 4, a man driving along the highway north of
Mitchell, Barzee, and Elizabeth were next spotted a week later on March 11 in
The next day the trio resurfaced in downtown
Sandy Police Officer Karen Jones was the first on the scene. She stopped the trio and asked for some identification. Mitchell told her they were the "
The next officer to arrive was Troy Rasmussen. As soon as he saw the girl in the gray wig, he was convinced that it was Elizabeth Smart. Rasmussen called for assistance, and the police separated
The officers asked her again if she was Elizabeth Smart.
"If thou sayeth, I sayeth," she answered.
Later that day Ed Smart was called to a
"Yes," she said, holding him tight.
Ed Smart wanted to bring his daughter home immediately, but the police detained her a while longer for further questioning, so they could start building their case against Mitchell and Barzee. Word spread quickly that
Mitchell and Barzee were arrested and held at the
On March 18, Salt Lake County District Attorney David Yocom announced that Mitchell and Barzee would be charged with aggravated kidnapping, aggravated burglary, and aggravated sexual assault as well as attempted aggravated kidnapping for trying to snatch
If and when Mitchell and Barzee are ever tried, the details of the alleged sexual assault will come to light and Elizabeth herself will most likely be called to testify. However, the court has ruled that neither Mitchell nor Barzee are mentally competent to stand trial. Mitchell has been ejected from several of his mental-competency hearings for singing the hymn, "Repent for the
Barzee has filed for divorce from Mitchell.