Kidnapping survivor Elizabeth Smart is doing what she does best — fighting back!
“I was surprised and disappointed to learn of the pending release of Wanda Barzee. 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,” Smart said in a statement shortly after the Utah Board of Pardons revealed Barzee would be freed on September 19, 2018.
“I am trying to understand how and why this is happening and exploring possible options."
Accompanied by Barzee, Brian David Mitchell took Smart from her home at knifepoint in 2002 and forced her into the woods. Barzee forced her to undress before Mitchell raped her. The couple held her hostage for nine excruciating months.
During her trial, Elizabeth’s mother, Lois Smart, told Barzee: “What you did to our family and our girl Elizabeth was wrong. It was wrong and it was evil.”
After being rescued following her harrowing ordeal of rape and torture, Smart became an advocate for victims.
“I plan to speak publicly in the coming days once I have a better understanding," 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 released as well as to ensure changes are made moving forward to ensure this doesn’t happen to anyone else in the future."
As Radar previously reported, the decision to release Barzee was made on Tuesday, September 11.
“Upon further review and advice from legal counsel, the board must count time spent in federal custody toward Ms. Barzee’s state sentence,” Greg Johnson, the director of administrative services, told Radar.
Barzee is serving a 1 to 15-year sentence in Utah state prison for her plot to kidnap Smart’s cousin in 2002, a month after they had taken the first victim. She was released from federal prison on kidnapping charges in 2016.
According to the Salt Lake Tribune newspaper, Barzee refused to meet with a psychiatrist in prison, which was a mandatory requirement for parole since she pleaded “guilty but mentally ill.”
Stay with Radar for updates to the story.
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