Woman who helped kidnap Elizabeth Smart to be released earlier than expected

Wanda Barzee, convicted for role in Elizabeth Smart kidnapping, to be released from prison September 19

Elizabeth Smart kidnapper to be released from prison in surprise move

They began hearing about the possibility of an early release just last week, he said.

Barzee's attorney sought to have the time spent in federal prison count toward her Utah sentence, a request the parole board originally declined in June. Yet, the board reversed its decision on Tuesday and scheduled Barzee's release for September 19.

Smart says she's exploring her "options" and plans to speak publicly in the coming days.

On July 2, the Board issued a decision that said the time spent in federal custody did not count toward the state sentence and the end of Barzee's state sentence was January 29, 2024.

As we've told you, Wanda skipped out on her parole hearing in June, and a board member said she turned down meeting a psychiatrist at the Utah State Prison despite pleading "guilty but mentally ill".

Smart's father, Ed Smart, said Tuesday that their family was still processing the news.

In a statement quoted by the Salt Lake City Tribune, Smart said she was "surprised and disappointed" to learn of Barzee's pending release.

She said in her statement she appreciates the support she's receiving and vowed to work to address the issue of Barzee's release so the same thing doesn't happen again. Mitchell, a religious extremist who meant to take her as a child bride, was believed to have cut through a screen window to gain access to her bedroom, abducting Smart as she slept.

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Smart was found while walking with Barzee and Mitchell on a street in the suburb of Sandy in the USA city of Utah, by people who recognised the couple from media reports.

In 2011, Mitchell received life in prison while Barzee received 15 years in federal prison, in addition to a concurrent sentence of to one to 15 years in state prison.

She said Mitchell told her their marriage was preordained and that she would be by his side as he took seven times seven wives and successfully battled the Antichrist.

Wanda Barzee and her husband Brian David Mitchell kidnapped the now 30-year-old woman at knifepoint back in 2002 when she was just 14 and put her through unimaginable torture.

For the next nine months, Smart was raped nearly daily by Mitchell.

Mitchell, now 64, was convicted in 2010 of aggravated kidnapping and illegally transporting a minor across state lines for sexual purposes. She was released from federal prison in Texas in 2016 and returned to Utah to serve her state sentence.

Representatives for Smart did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

She was born on November 3, 1987 in Salt Lake City, Utah. She also runs a foundation dedicated to helping kidnap victims and their recovery. Smart was walking alongside Barzee and Mitchell when police stopped them.

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