Epic Victory: Kidnapping survivor, Elizabeth Smart speaks to others about overcoming adversity
Here is the story:
Kidnapping survivor, Elizabeth Smart, spoke Wednesday night about overcoming adversity, at the 2nd annual Healthy Woman Expo in Ohio.
On June 5, 2002, Elizabeth was kidnapped from the bedroom of her Salt Lake City, Utah home, held captive and abused for nine-months as a teenager. A massive regional search for Elizabeth in the days following her abduction took place. Up to 2,000 volunteers a day were dispatched to areas around her home town.
The Smart family often sought to help unemployed people in the community by paying them for odd jobs around the property. A man named Mitchell, worked at the Smart family property for a day and called himself “Emmanuel”. Mitchell worked at the home for five hours, helping on the roof and raking leaves.
During the abduction, Elizabeth’s sister, Mary, was in the room and was pretending to sleep in the bed near her sister. Mary always remembered the voice of the abductor. After months of searching, Mary connected the voice she heard, to the man she recalled as “Emmanuel”, later identified as Mitchell. She informed the police and sketches of the perpetrator were released to America’s Most Wanted. ” Emmanuel” was then identified as Mitchell and the full search began. Just over nine months after the abduction, on March 12, 2003, in Sandy, Utah, roughly 18 miles from the Smart’s home, they found Elizabeth in the company of Brian David Mitchell and Wanda Ileen Barzee. The couple were arrested for her kidnapping and convicted in 2010. Wanda was sentenced to 15 years in jail. On May 25, 2011, due to issues in the trial, Judge Dale Kimball finally sentenced Mitchell to life in prison.
Empowering other woman and children through sharing her story of overcoming, is important to the 24-year-old survivor.
“There came a point in my kidnapping that I made a decision, and it’s been one of the most important decisions of my life, and I made the decision to survive no matter what,” Elizabeth said, “And so once I made that decision and that I would do anything I had to stay alive, that made all the difference for me.”
She feels that the best punishment she could give her kidnappers would be for her to be happy and to follow her dreams. Elizabeth began the “Elizabeth Smart Foundation”, that strives to keep kids safe and educates them. The Foundations mission is to prevent crimes from happening to children. She has partnered with several other organizations, including radKIDS. She has gone through the instructor training herself and believes in the mission of the organization. Elizabeth’s goal is to have the radKIDS program offered at all elementary schools, so other kids know how to protect themselves.
With the subject of their daughter in the limelight and many asking for details, the Smart family published their story in the book, “Bringing Elizabeth Home: A Journey of Faith and Home,” in 2003. The book was used as the basis for the CBS television movie “The Elizabeth Smart Story”, which aired November 9, 2003.
Another book titled, “In Plain Sight: The Startling Truth Behind the Elizabeth Smart Investigation,” was co-authored by Elizabeth’s uncle Tom Smart and Deseret News journalist Lee Benson. The book criticized the Salt Lake City Police Department’s investigation process and spoke of the media’s influences that led to Elizabeth’s return.
Elizabeth foundation, http://elizabethsmartfoundation.org seeks to provide prevention of future crimes against children and also works to support the incredible people who devote their time and resources to going out and hunting down child perpetrators. Elizabeth is currently advocating for child safety laws for children and rallying support for funding for the “Internet Crimes Against Children” Task force. Her foundation is rallying for new educational approaches to child safety laws that empower children to protect themselves. A link to her petition can be viewed here: http://www.change.org/petitions/get-smart-in-washington.
Elizabeth’s story of her nine-month ordeal and rescue is being told in her new memoir titled, “My Story.” Elizabeth Smart details her kidnapping in this 308-page book released by St. Martin’s Press and with help from Chris Stewart, a Utah congressman who has authored many books. Elizabeth hopes that her book will help other victims move forward with their lives.
Elizabeth has demonstrated an epic victory over adversity and has found her purpose in empowering children. We are never alone in our efforts and must be thankful for the love and support around us. Like Elizabeth, her story is only one of many and we must all come to realize that together we can make changes that can change lives forever. It takes a special person like Elizabeth to stand up!
As Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948) once said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”
For anyone else, it’s not easy telling others your story, but your story might bring big changes in the world!
June 4, 2002 – Smart Family arrives late at the Bryant Middle School awards function Elizabeth receives awards in physical fitness and academics but does not play her harp as planned. Family returns home and retires to bed.
June 5, 2002 – Elizabeth is abducted from her bedroom in the early hours of the morning. Mary Katherine, her sister, is a witness to the crime. Elizabeth is taken to a camp in Dry Creek Canyon, the entrance of which is a short distance from the Smart family house, where she is held prisoner.
June 6, 2002 – Bounty for her rescue is at $250,000.
June 7, 2002 – A milkman reports suspicious activities of Bret Michael Edmunds in neighborhood.
June 9, 2002 – Ed Smart is questioned and polygraphed.
June 12, 2002 – Manhunt for Bret Michael Edmunds.
June 14, 2002 – Suspect Richard Ricci is arrested on unrelated charges.
June 21, 2002 – Bret Michael Edmunds caught at City Hospital in Martinsburg, West Virginia and questioned the next day.
June 24, 2002 – Richard Ricci arrest announced.
July 11, 2002 – Richard Ricci charged with theft in the Smart home. Denies any involvement with Elizabeth’s kidnapping.
July 24, 2002 – Attempted kidnapping at Elizabeth’s cousin’s house.[dead link]
August 2002 – Salt Lake City Detective Richey, based on a tip, confronts Smart and her kidnappers at the City Library. He is deflected from examining Smart’s face by a religious argument. Smart later testified “I felt like hope was walking out the door”, as the detective accepted the argument and left.
August 2002 – Mitchell, Barzee and Elizabeth leave Dry Creek Canyon and go to Salt Lake City.
August 27, 2002 – Richard Ricci collapses.
August 30, 2002 – Richard Ricci dies of brain hemorrhage.
September 17, 2002 – Police suspend regular briefings with the Smart family.
September 27, 2002 – Police arrest Mitchell for shoplifting and later release him.
September 28, 2002 – Barzee and Elizabeth are spotted in the town of Lakeside, California, in San Diego County.
October 12, 2002 – Mary Katherine remembers the voice of the kidnapper as that of the man they knew as “Emmanuel”.
February 3, 2003 – Smart family releases the sketch of the man known as Emmanuel.
February 12, 2003 – Mitchell is arrested in El Cajon, California, in San Diego County, for breaking into a church. He was recognized as the criminal wanted in Utah.
February 15, 2003 – America’s Most Wanted features Emmanuel and requests responses.
February 16, 2003 – Mitchell’s family steps forward and identifies him as the man known as “Emmanuel”.
February 17, 2003 – Newly published, more recent photographs of Mitchell made available.
March 5, 2003 – Mitchell, Barzee, and Elizabeth leave San Diego County, California.
March 12, 2003 – Elizabeth Smart found alive in the city of Sandy, Utah.
March 18, 2003 – Mitchell and Barzee charged with aggravated kidnapping, aggravated sexual assault and aggravated burglary.
April 30, 2003 – Elizabeth makes her first public appearance after her return.
October 27, 2003 – Dateline NBC interview with Elizabeth.
July 26, 2005 – Mitchell declared mentally incompetent to stand trial.
December 18, 2006 – Mitchell again declared unfit to stand trial.
April 30, 2008 – Ed Smart appears on Madeline McCann One Year One.
November 17, 2008 – People Magazine features Elizabeth Smart as one of their heroes of the year. In the article Elizabeth says she plans to live in England next year.
October 2009 – In a court hearing Elizabeth Smart described Mitchell as “smart, articulate, evil, wicked, manipulative, sneaky, slimy, selfish, greedy, not spiritual, not religious, not close to God.”
November 17, 2009 – Wanda Barzee sentenced to 15 years for her role in the kidnapping.
March 1, 2010 – Mitchell ruled competent to stand trial.
December 10, 2010 – Mitchell convicted in Elizabeth Smart abduction.
May 25, 2011 – Brian David Mitchell is sentenced to life in federal prison for the kidnapping of Elizabeth Smart.
Notes & References
4. CBS News Article: Elizabeth’s Road Home, March 12, 2003
5. “Elizabeth’s Road Home”, CBS News, March 12, 2003″ February 4, 2003
6. “Elizabeth s Smart’s Younger Sister Speaks Out Publicly”