News / 

Homeless Advocates: Police Never Contacted Us

Homeless Advocates: Police Never Contacted Us

Save Story
Leer en español

Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.

News Specialist John Hollenhorst reportingElizabeth's apparent kidnapper was occasionally seen on the streets of Salt Lake City over the last three or four years, and at least once after the kidnapping.

But two people who work regularly with the homeless say police never contacted them.

People who encountered Mitchell on the streets say the so-called 'Emmanuel' was soft-spoken and persuasive, not hostile or threatening.

Veteran outreach worker Pamela Atkinson says he didn't like to listen much. He just wanted to talk. About being God.

Governor Leavitt once called Pamela Atkinson "the Mother Theresa of Utah". For the last 17 years she's catered to the needs of the homeless. Physical needs, such as clothing. Emotional needs, such as a good hug.

The latest Family Circle Magazine calls her "A Saint for the Homeless".

But Emmanuel seemed to think he outranked a mere saint.

"He's usually just trying to preach. And come across either as a messenger from God, God Himself, or even better than God," she says.

Outreach worker Ed Snoddy, with Volunteers of America, encountered Emmanuel from time to time over the last several years.

"We knew him as 'God Be With Us' and Wanda as 'God Adorn Us.'" "That's how he referred to her and himself all the time."

Last October, young Mary Katherine Smart belatedly identified Emmanuel as the possible kidnapper. About that time, he was spotted in front of Crossroads Mall. If he was controlling a young kidnap victim, it wasn't obvious.

"No, he was alone, panhandling at that time." "Wanda was around the corner, yes, and whether Elizabeth was with her or not, we're not sure," Atkinson says.

Emmanuel first became involved with the Smart family when Lois Smart enountered him on the streets and hired him for a roofing job. In spite of that lead, police never contacted these streetwise veterans.

"If we had known Emmanuel was wanted for questioning, our homeless friends would have found him for us. There's an incredible grapevine amongst homeless people," Atkinson says.

But they never suspected Emmannuel and never thought he was violent, in spite of his strange beliefs.

Snoddy says, "We realized there was some mental health issues going on. A bit delusional."

"We felt he needed treatment. We wanted to get him into Valley Mental Health for treatment. But he did not see himself as needing any help at all. He felt he was almost perfect."

Emmanuel did accept a little bit to eat from the outreach workers. And one time he accepted a pair of socks.

But, like many people accustomed to life on the streets, he refused offers to spend the night in the homeless shelter.

Most recent News stories


Get informative articles and interesting stories delivered to your inbox weekly. Subscribe to the Trending 5.
By subscribing, you acknowledge and agree to's Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

KSL Weather Forecast