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Elizabeth Smart May Have to Deal with Tough Investigative Questions

Elizabeth Smart May Have to Deal with Tough Investigative Questions

Posted - Mar. 15, 2003 at 11:00 a.m.



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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- With myriad questions unanswered about Elizabeth Smart's disappearance, a top law enforcement official declared the investigation had to go wherever evidence or information leads -- even if it means grilling the teen.

"I'm hoping that all investigative leads are being looked at, from the very obvious to the very worst-case scenario that people don't want to look at," Salt Lake County Sheriff Aaron Kennard said Friday.

That includes any allegations of sexual abuse or assault that may arise, Kennard said. And to properly investigate, "we have to ask (Elizabeth) the same questions we put to women. Hard-nosed questions need to be asked. Put her through it, and then get on with life.

"Elizabeth is a victim. How did she become that?" Kennard said. "Who's the next victim? There are going to be other Brian Mitchells out there."

On Friday, authorities were studying a 27-page manifesto in which Brian David Mitchell, accused of kidnapping Elizabeth on June 5, talks of taking multiple wives. Investigators have refused to say whether Elizabeth had been abused or assaulted.

Police found the girl on Wednesday walking in a Salt Lake City suburb with Mitchell, a shaggy-haired vagabond and self-styled prophet. With them was his wife, Wanda Barzee. Authorities said the three had been living under bridges and in tents in Utah and California, apparently panhandling to eat.

Vicki Cottrell, who has known Barzee for 28 years and is executive director of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill of Utah, met with Barzee in jail Friday. Barzee told Cottrell that the couple was instructed through revelations to take young wives.

Cottrell said 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 Mitchell, Cottrell told The Associated Press.

"That's the very saddest part of this whole thing -- they picked and they chose, and they didn't ask permission," Cottrell said. "They just took someone that was very innocent."

Barzee also told Cottrell that the couple heard revelations about where to stay, including an area in the mountains above San Diego, where Mitchell pleaded guilty to vandalizing a church. He served less than a week of jail time.

In a later revelation, Barzee was told by God that the trio needed to return to Salt Lake City. Cottrell hopes Wanda had "maybe some glimpses of something they had done that was very wrong and needed to be dealt with."

Barzee told Cottrell that during prayer during Mitchell's jail time, it was revealed to her that when the group returned to Salt Lake City they would be picked up and "put in jail by the evildoers of the world."

"She said that she realized that taking six more wives would not be possible," Cottrell said.

Mitchell, a self-styled prophet, may have tried to abduct Elizabeth's 18-year-old cousin seven weeks after Elizabeth's disappearance.

According to a July 24 sheriff's report, the screen on Jessica Wright's bedroom window was cut and a chair was found beneath it. The would-be intruder fled when the family heard noises in the night and called authorities.

A chair was similarly found under the kitchen window at the Smarts' home after Elizabeth disappeared from her bedroom early on June 5. And the screen was reported cut from the outside.

"It's more than a coincidence," said Sheriff Aaron Kennard. "You have this cousin who looks like Elizabeth and is good friends with Elizabeth."

Kennard said his investigators had evidence linking the two incidents that would be provided to prosecutors for possible attempted kidnapping charges, which could come early next week.

Jessica Wright has been described as Elizabeth's favorite cousin.

Family members and police have not disclosed details of Elizabeth's ordeal but have indicated the couple had gained a hold over her psychologically. Her father, Ed Smart, said he fears she was brainwashed.

Investigators are poring over a document titled "The Book of Immanuel David Isaiah," seized Thursday in Montana from one of Mitchell's relatives. It was believed to have been written by Mitchell, whose aliases included the name Emmanuel.

In it, Mitchell calls polygamy a lost "blessing." And he refers to himself as a "just and merciful" God who can restore lost blessings to those who do not sin.

One passage, in which he appears to address his wife by a biblical name, says: "Thou wilt take into thy heart and home seven sisters, and thou wilt recognize them through the spirit as thy dearest and choicest friends from all eternity."

Police have said Mitchell was excommunicated from the Mormon Church, the religion of the Smart family, and considered himself a polygamist. The practice has long been outlawed in Utah.

Asked whether Elizabeth may have been taken to be a wife, the girl's aunt, Angela Dumke, said, "You never know. He's nuts."

"This guy's probably involved in polygamy," said Dumke, Ed Smart's sister.

Dumke said another theory is that Barzee considered Elizabeth to be her child. Relatives of the 57-year-old woman said she fled a violent marriage years ago, leaving behind six children.

Police said Elizabeth was snatched from her bed at knifepoint and spent her first two months with Mitchell and Barzee in a tent within two miles of the Smarts' house. They later left for the San Diego area.

Mitchell was arrested twice during the time police say Elizabeth was with the couple -- once in Salt Lake City on suspicion of shoplifting Sept. 27 and another time for trying to break into a San Diego County church, apparently in search of a place to sleep.

Mitchell pleaded innocent to charges in the shoplifting case Friday.

Prosecutors said aggravated kidnapping and other charges from the Smart case would probably be filed against the two Monday.

Elizabeth's mother, Lois Smart, said Friday that the teenager was feeling "fantastic" and sleeping well for the first time since her ordeal began. The Smarts have yet to decide when Elizabeth will return to school, she said.

For now, "we need to be with Elizabeth," the girl's mother said. Late Friday, several thousand people gathered at a midtown park to celebrate Elizabeth's return. The teenager did not attend, but sent an autographed poster thanking the public for their support.

"I'm the luckiest girl in the world! Thank you for your love and prayers. It's a wish come true!! I'm home! I love you all," Elizabeth wrote.

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

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