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Timeline of Elizabeth Smart's captivity

By Sarah Dallof  |  Posted Oct 1st, 2009 @ 5:17pm



 

SALT LAKE CITY -- Elizabeth Smart testified in federal court against Brian David Mitchell, her accused kidnapper.

The testimony filled in the missing pieces of a bizarre story that has captured worldwide attention. For nine months, officials and regular people floated theories and suspicions, but the real events were more disturbing than most of us imagined.

When Elizabeth was discovered on State Street in Sandy on March 12, 2003, it was by no means the end of the story or the public's interest in this case. Instead a story of hiding-in-plain-sight emerged and, at the center, was a very troubled man.

Elizabeth Smart was snatched from her bedroom at knifepoint by Brian David Mitchell on June 5, 2002. He took her to a camp, where she first met his wife Wanda Barzee.

The camp was made of cut logs, covered with a tarp and was painfully close to Smart's home. She would hear some of the thousands of searchers calling her name. "Elizabeth, if you're out there, we're doing everything we possibly can to help you," said Elizabeth's father, Ed Smart.

All in all, they would search land from the Idaho border to Richfield.

Scott Sowle, a searcher, told KSL at the time, "It means a lot to me, not just for Elizabeth, but for all missing children."

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Police first focused on drifter Brett Michael Edmunds, then on Richard Ricci, a handyman who worked on the Smart's home.

Ricci, who was in jail on separate charges, collapsed and died in a prison cell in August of 2002. Meanwhile, Mitchell and Barzee were hiding in plain sight.

With Elizabeth in tow and in disguise, they took her to parties, parks and downtown Salt Lake.

Nicole Richardson said, "I saw them about three times on the bus."

They sought warmer weather in California, then returned to Utah.

In February of 2003, police asked for help locating a drifter known as "Emmanuel," Mitchell's alias, and on March 12, two couples spotted him and called police. Elizabeth was found.

Ed Smart said, "I couldn't believe it. In fact, I had to take a double-take and pull her away from me and say, ‘Is it really you?'"

Few details emerged about Elizabeth's ordeal, but a chilling portrait of Mitchell came to light. In 1985, his then wife filed a police report alleging Mitchell was molesting their two young children, no charges were filed.

His stepdaughter, Rebecca Woodridge, said Mitchell also molested her repeatedly when she was younger.

Woodridge said, "He would whisper in my ear not to tell anybody and if I did nobody would believe me."

Since her rescue, Elizabeth Smart has finished school and campaigned nationally for tougher laws against child predators. Next up is an LDS mission in Paris, France.

E-mail: sdallof@ksl.com

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