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Family Wouldn't Be Surprised at Polygamy Motive, Aunt Says

Family Wouldn't Be Surprised at Polygamy Motive, Aunt Says

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(Salt Lake City-AP) -- Elizabeth Smart's family doesn't know if the girl was kidnapped in order to be a wife -- but an aunt says they wouldn't be surprised.

The 15-year-old girl was found outside Salt Lake City this week with drifter Brian Mitchell and his wife. Police are investigating the couple in her abduction nine months ago.

The Salt Lake police chief says Mitchell considered himself a polygamist, but the chief adds he doesn't want to -- quote -- "attach his relationship with Elizabeth in that fashion."

The girl's aunt says the family can't be certain whether Elizabeth was taken in order to be a wife.

But she tells The Associated Press "you never know. He's nuts." The aunt says another theory is that Mitchell's wife -- Wanda Barzee -- thought of Elizabeth as her child.

Asked Friday about reports that Elizabeth had been taken to be a wife, another of the girl's aunts, 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."

Mitchell's ex-wife tells N-B-C's "Today" show she suspects her former husband brainwashed the girl. She says, "that's how he worked in our marriage."

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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