The woman who helped kidnap Elizabeth Smart in the summer of 2002 is set to be released from jail next week, the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole announced on Tuesday.
Wanda Barzee, 72, has been in jail for 15 years for helping her husband Brian David Mitchell kidnap Smart at knifepoint from her bedroom in Salt Lake City when she was only 14-years-old. Barzee didn't intervene while Smart was raped almost daily by Mitchell during her nine months in captivity. She was eventually rescued, and Mitchell and Barzee arrested, in March 2003 after the three were spotted on a street just 18 miles away from Smart's home.
In a statement, Smart said she was disappointed her captor was set to be released even though she was set to serve at least five more years in prison.
“It is incomprehensible how someone who has not cooperated with her mental health evaluations or risk assessments and someone who did not show up to her own parole hearing can be released into our community,” she said. “I appreciate the support, love and concern that has already been expressed and will work diligently to address the issue of Barzee’s release as well as to ensure changes are made moving forward to ensure this doesn’t happen to anyone else in the future.”
In 2009, Barzee pleaded guilty in federal court to helping kidnap and hold Smart hostage. She also pleaded guilty in state court to attempting to also kidnap Smart's cousin to fulfill Mitchell's vision of taking seven wives to "battle the Antichrist." Barzee finished her federal sentence in 2016, which led to her transfer to an state prison to serve time for the plot to abduct Smart's cousin. But the board said that it's including the time Barzee served in federal prison towards her state sentence, leading to her release on September 19.