Elizabeth Smart’s Captor Released from Prison

Wanda Barzee, one of the two convicted kidnappers of Elizabeth Smart, is out of prison, as of Wednesday. The Elizabeth Smart case was followed closely after Smart was kidnapped from her home in Salt Lake City, on June 5, 2002. Brian David Mitchell and his wife, Barzee, held Elizabeth captive for approximately nine months.

Elizabeth’s Journey

Mitchell, a self-proclaimed “preacher,” held Smart at a camp in the woods and repeatedly raped her as Barzee watched. And, even though Barzee and Mitchell had Elizabeth accompany them in public on several occasions, no one recognized her on these outings.

Searches continued throughout the time Smart was in captivity, but Elizabeth’s sister, Mary Katherine, who saw the abductor as she pretended to sleep in the room where Elizabeth was taken, did not have a definitive description of Mitchell. Additionally, there were no fingerprints or DNA left at the scene.

Smart was threatened with death, forced to drink alcohol, take drugs, and starved. Eventually, Mary Katherine was able to identify Mitchell’s voice and recognized him as a man who had worked at their home for a short time. Elizabeth was finally seen by a couple who had viewed her photograph on the news. She was rescued on March 12, 2003.

Since her return home, Elizabeth has become an advocate for missing persons and victims of sexual assault. Barzee faced a sentenced of 15 years in federal prison, and Mitchell was sentenced to life in prison in 2011.

Barzee’s Release

Wanda Barzee was released from prison this week (9/19/18). She is listed for life on Utah’s sex offender website and, according to Elizabeth’s father, is still capable of harming others. She will be monitored on federal probation for five years and will seek mental health treatment. She is also ordered to stay away from Elizabeth Smart and Elizabeth’s family. Barzee’s attorney says there is no evidence that she is a danger to the community.

Barzee was not supposed to be released until 2024, but there was a miscalculation concerning her 15-year state sentence which, said officials, should include her time spent in federal prison. This means her total sentence had been served.

Probation for Barzee includes a 9:00 pm curfew and her word that she will not visit locations that are frequented by the Smart family. If she violates the terms of her probation, she could go back to prison. Barzee is living in temporary housing until a permanent residence can be found.


Probation is a privilege extended to criminals instead of jail time. The conditions of probation can change according to the judge overseeing the case, or the jurisdiction, and can include:

  • Curfew
  • Drug testing
  • Regular check-ins with your probation officer
  • Home searches
  • Travel restrictions
  • For some offenders, not inviting a child to accompany them anywhere, and whatever other condition is decreed

Although probation may seem a pain in the neck, violating your probation puts your limited freedom at risk. In Utah, offenders who have committed a crime and are sometimes sentenced by the court to be under supervision in the community and held to a higher standard than the general public. The Utah Department of Corrections  may have its officers assist probationers in obtaining:

  • Employment
  • Housing
  • Training
  • Schooling
  • Employment
  • Food
  • Therapy
  • Treatment
  • Counseling

Registered sex offenders in Utah are not allowed in these protected zones:

  • Licensed daycares or preschools
  • Swimming pools open to the public
  • Private or public primary and secondary schools
  • Community park open to the public
  • Playground open to the public

Anderson Law Firm is experienced in defending against child molestation offenses and can assist those who have been falsely accused or have not been advised of their rights and options. Call your Minnesota Criminal Defense Lawyer today for a free consultation.

DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this article does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Please contact attorney Kirk Anderson for an initial consultation.