On in march 12, 2003, 15-year-old Elizabeth smart is finally uncovered in Sandy, Utah, nine months after gift abducted from her family’s home. She alleged kidnappers, Brian David Mitchell, a drifter who the Smarts had briefly to work at their house, and his wife, Wanda Barzee, to be charged v the kidnapping, and burglary and also sexual assault.

You are watching: How long was elizabeth smart captive

In the center of the night ~ above June 5, 2002, Elizabeth Smart, then 14 years old, to be taken at knifepoint from she bedroom in she parents’ home in the upscale federal Heights community of Salt Lake City. She captor slid right into the home undetected after ~ cutting open the display screen of an open up window. Elizabeth’s younger sister, mary Katherine, through whom she shared her bedroom, was the only witness come the kidnapping. Mary Katherine did not educate her parents until two hours after the incident, frightened the the man could return for her if she referred to as out come alert them. She was at first unable to determine her sister’s attacker.


Elizabeth was required to a crude campsite in the woods just three mile from she family’s home–close enough that she could actually listen the voices of searchers phone call for her in the days following her abduction. There, the is alleged the Mitchell, that calls self Emmanuel and also professes to be a prophet through his own Mormon sect, sexually attacked her.

After 2 months, Smart, who was forced to undertake a wig and also dress in a robe and veil, was taken to Salt Lake City and also appeared in public, however was not recognized. Native there, Mitchell and Barzee took smart to san Diego, where they lived in a series of campsites and also under bridges. Finally, the group returned to the Salt Lake City area and, simply a pair of hours later, several civilization recognized Elizabeth. They reported your sightings to police, who instantly followed increase on the lead and pulled end a automobile carrying Mitchell, Barzee and Smart.


Most the the early on police investigation right into Elizabeth’s disappearance had concentrated on an additional suspect, Richard Ricci, that had additionally once worked as a handyman in the clever home. Serving time in prison for a special amnesty violation during the investigation, Ricci refuse having any type of involvement in the kidnapping. The trail prospered cold after ~ Ricci passed away in jail of a mind hemorrhage on respectable 30. Lastly in early February 2003, mar Katherine clever told she parents she believed an additional former worker at the smart home, who called himself Emmanuel, could be Elizabeth’s captor and also the Smarts relayed the details to authorities. ~ above February 3, believing that the police were not taking mary Katherine’s pointer seriously, the smart family called their very own press conference to release a sketch of Emmanuel. Numerous days later, a male contacted police to notify them the Emmanuel was his disturbed stepfather, Brian David Mitchell, and also that he thought him to certainly be capable of kidnapping. In the days prior to finding Elizabeth, the Smarts ongoing to criticize police because that failing to dedicate enough energy to following up ~ above the lead.


When found, Smart, who referred to as herself Augustine, most likely at the behest of Mitchell, originally denied come police the she to be in fact Elizabeth Smart. Undeterred, police take it her and her captors in different cars to the Salt Lake City Police Department, wherein she was reunited with she family. On march 18, 2003, after ~ Mitchell and also Barzee were formally charged, Mitchell’s attorney announced the his client considered taking Elizabeth a call from God. That has since been reported that Mitchell thought Smart to be his wife and also that the young girl may have actually suffered native Stockholm syndrome throughout the nine-month ordeal, answering questions as to why she go not shot to escape even though it seemed she had been gift with number of opportunities.

See more: How Many Current Members Of Congress Are Convicted Felons In Elected Office


Police later found that Mitchell had also attempted come kidnap Smart’s cousin numerous weeks after taking Elizabeth and added that crime to the perform of charges against him. Mitchell was declared mentally not suitable to stand trial in July 2005 and also December 2006; Barzee, that filed for divorce from Mitchell in December 2004, to be sentenced come 15 year in jail for her function in the kidnapping in November 2009. She to be released in 2018. On might 25, 2011, after being ruled competent to was standing trial in in march 2010 and convicted the December, Mitchell was sentenced come life in federal prison.