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Suspect's Past Includes Criminal Record

Suspect's Past Includes Criminal Record

Posted - Mar. 13, 2003 at 8:45 a.m.



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News Specialist Kimberly Houk reporting Brian David Mitchell, who also refers to himself as Emanuel, has been spotted by many people because he frequented downtown Salt Lake City to panhandle and preach.

His stepdaughter, Louree Gaylor, lived and traveled with Mitchell and her mom, Wanda, until she left at age fifteen.

She says fear kept her from getting away from Mitchell, and imagines Elizabeth may have had the same struggle.

"My biggest thing on why she stayed could have been a little bit of a brainwashing, because they're very good at that. Or it could have been drugs involved," Gaylor says.

Police searched Mitchell's mother's house at 6711 S. 1500 East. Neighbors say he grew up in the Canyon Rim area and hasn't been seen in his mother's neighborhood for eight or nine months.

The woman Mitchell is traveling with is believed to be his third wife.

Friends say Wanda Barzee also grew up nearby. They describe her as nice and quiet. They say she attended South High School.

Brian David Mitchell has a bit of a criminal history. In 1973 he was picked up for drug possession and a DUI. He was also accused of leaving the scene of an accident.

In Fall of 2002 he was issued a shoplifting citation by the Salt Lake City police department. And then just last month out of California... a warrant for his arrest was issued for a burglary in San Diego.

He's got a criminal history, but nothing that would indicate anything like a kidnapping in his past.

From the Associated Press

Mitchell had attended Skyline High School in the 1970s, married and had four children. He and his wife divorced and he married Barzee in the late 1980s, The Salt Lake Tribune reported Thursday.

The couple had been Mormons but were excommunicated, said Michael Otterson, spokesman for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Gayler's brother, Mark Thompson, 32, said his mother "freaked out" when Gayler left home, Thompson told The New York Times. "I remember her saying, 'How dare my baby leave me?' Maybe she felt like she needed to replace a child."

Thompson said his mother carried around dolls for years, pretending they were alive. He said she had also been forcibly removed from a hospital -- as recently as last year -- "for touching other people's kids."

Gayler told CBS's "The Early Show" that when she lived with Mitchell and Barzee they prayed for several hours a day and had expected her to do the same. She said he was abusive "to a degree." "He shot a dog in front of us, made me eat my own rabbit for dinner, things like that," she said.

Elizabeth's father, Ed Smart, said little about Mitchell when he spoke Thursday about his daughter's return, focusing instead on pressing Congress to create a national Amber Alert system to get information out quickly in any future child abductions.

Her uncle Tom Smart said Elizabeth "had been in the hands of a very sick person. An evil person."

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

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