Elizabeth Smart urges Utah to reverse decision to end Wanda Barzee’s prison sentence


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SALT LAKE CITY — Elizabeth Smart pleaded for the state to reverse the decision to release one of her two kidnappers from Utah State Prison next week during a press conference Thursday.

Smart said she learned of the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole’s decision that Wanda Barzee’s sentence for her role in the abduction would end Wednesday, Sept. 19, moments before it was announced Tuesday. Her sentence was initially supposed to end on Jan. 29, 2024.

Smart said she believes Barzee, 72, is still “dangerous” to the community during a 15-minute press conference Thursday afternoon, KSL.com reported.

“Months ago, I was on my way to a parole hearing and I was told she wouldn’t be let out until 2024, so, yes, it was a very big shock,” Smart said, speaking at the steps of the Utah State Capitol.

“I would urge the powers that be and anyone who works under them to really strongly reconsider this situation, look at all the facts, look at her mental status and see if they really, honestly, truly feel like she is no longer a threat.”

Smart was 14 years old at the time she was kidnapped in 2002 and was found 9 months later in March 2003. She testified in court that she was continuously raped and threatened by Brian David Mitchell throughout the time she was held captive.