A Day of Thanksgiving

A Day of Thanksgiving

Save Story
Leer en espaƱol

Estimated read time: 3-4 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 Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information.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.

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- LDS faithful gathered to pray and sing Sunday at Elizabeth Smart's church, where her grandfather declared the 15-year-old had been brainwashed and robbed of free will during her nine-month ordeal. Her bishop said Elizabeth was "pure before the Lord."

Smart's grandparents and uncle spoke to about 250 people gathered for a LDS church service that focused on the girl's safe return home.

"As a doctor, it's amazing to me that you can become so brainwashed that you identify with your captor," grandfather Charles Smart told those gathered. "Elizabeth was a captive for nine months, with only a couple of weeks that she wasn't camping out. During that time, Elizabeth had the chance of escaping. One day she was completely by herself, but she didn't try to run away."

Smart was snatched at knifepoint from her home June 5, allegedly by drifter and self-styled prophet Brian David Mitchell, a one-time handyman who went by the name "Immanuel."

Mitchell and his wife, Wanda Barzee, remained in a county jail Sunday awaiting charges. Authorities refused public comment on their investigation for a second straight day, though officials have said kidnapping charges against the pair could come as early as Monday.

Elizabeth, Mitchell and Barzee were found Wednesday walking in suburban Sandy. Authorities said the three had been living under bridges and in tents in Utah and California, apparently panhandling to eat.

At the wardhouse near the Smart home, Charles Smart told those attending Sunday's service that Elizabeth lost her free will and was "completely controlled" by her captors, Charles Smart said.

"We can do good or we can do bad. The question is, did Elizabeth have the right of choice as a captive, or was she in survival mode?" he said. "I say this: She had no ability to control her life. She was completely controlled by Immanuel."

Mitchell's writings promoting polygamy have raised questions about whether Elizabeth was sexually abused or taken as his wife.

Those who spoke at the service did not address specifics about what might have happened to Elizabeth. A Barzee friend who visited her in jail said Barzee told her that on Thanksgiving Day 2000, the couple received a revelation that Mitchell was to have seven more wives. Barzee spoke about the need to take younger wives because older women would not be submissive enough to marry him, she said.

Church Bishop David Hamblin said despite anything that may have happened, the teen is "pure before the Lord. People who are in the control of others are not accountable."

Few details have been released about any abuse Elizabeth may have suffered while captive. Family spokesman Chris Thomas said Sunday that the girl has been interviewed several times by police, but her parents have not asked her for details.

Charles Smart asked church members to be sensitive as Elizabeth gradually returns to her old life.

"Elizabeth has been through hell, and prying into those things brings it back," he said. "We'd like to invite everyone to show love, comfort and support to Elizabeth. Let's give her some time, let her do this in her own way."

He also addressed Elizabeth's behavior when police found her. The teen denied she was "that Elizabeth Smart girl who ran away," police said.

"Seven times they asked her, and she denied it. That shows the extent of this Stockholm Syndrome," Charles Smart said.

Stockholm Syndrome refers to the psychological phenomenon that occurs when hostages identify with their captors.

The most well-known example is newspaper heiress Patty Hearst, who was kidnapped by members of the radical Symbionese Liberation Army and later joined them in a series of bank robberies.

Elizabeth's immediate family did not attend the service so they could stay home with her. Father Ed Smart told reporters later Sunday that Mitchell is a "sick man" who needs therapy.

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

Most recent Utah stories

Related topics



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

KSL Weather Forecast