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Motive For Kidnapping Still Questioned

Motive For Kidnapping Still Questioned

Posted - Mar. 14, 2003 at 9:01 a.m.



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(KSL TV/AP) Motive in the Elizabeth Smart kidnapping case is still a big question. Did Brian Mitchell take Elizabeth as a daughter or as a second wife?

Police say polygamy was part of his religious beliefs. But, Salt Lake Police Chief Rick Dinse added, "I do not want to attach his relationship with Elizabeth in that fashion."

Asked Friday about reports that Elizabeth had been taken to be a wife, the girl's aunt Heidi Smart said, "That's not actually information that we've been given at this point."

"The information that we've been given is that she was kidnapped and she was held captive and what went on from there psychologically is information that is still to come out," she told NBC's "Today" show. "I think we're looking at a lot of those speculations and stories as just that."

Another of Elizabeth's aunts, Angela Dumke, told The Associated Press Friday regarding reports that Elizabeth had been taken to be a wife, that the family can't be certain. But they wouldn't be surprised.

"You never know. He's nuts," said Dumke, a sister of Elizabeth's father, Ed. "This guy's probably involved in polygamy."

Dumke said another theory is that Mitchell's wife, Wanda Barzee, considered Elizabeth to be her child.

Mitchell last worked on the Smart home in March of 2001, but police say he lurked around for several months later, studying the exterior of the home.

Police now believe he took Elizabeth at knifepoint in the early hours of June 5th after cutting through the kitchen screen from the outside.

Salt Lake City Police Chief Rick Dinse says, "In review of that screen, after the forensic people looked at it, there was the appearance it had been cut from the outside and from the inside, as if someone had reached around and cut it from the inside, too. So it could have been both ways."

Police say Brian Mitchell became a suspect in October, but they were also investigating Richard Ricci, a handyman at the Smart's home.

They did have three police artist sketches of Mitchell that were very different from one another. Investigators believed publicizing all three could have hurt the investigation.

Chief Dinse said today Brian Mitchell is now a suspect in the July burglary of a home in Salt Lake County that belonged to Lois Smart's brother in law.

Meanwhile just last month in San Diego, police did have Brian Mitchell in custody, but they let him go. He was arrested for breaking into a church. Officials believe he was looking for a warm place to sleep. Mitchell paid a $250 fine.

This all happened two days before his picture went national on the America's Most Wanted tv show.

Now San Diego residents are coming forward saying they now remember seeing the traveling trio dressed in robes and veils. A local market worker says she saw the three just 10 days ago. She says the younger one -- the one we now know was Elizabeth Smart-- always avoided eye contact.

The Salt Lake City police have another press conference scheduled for 5 o'clock tonight.

(The Associated Press contributed to this story.)

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