Elizabeth Smart's Father Talks About Kidnappings

12:58 PM, Jan 19, 2007   |    comments
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St. Louis, MO -- When Ed Smart heard about the "Missouri Miracle,” he was in the mood to celebrate. "I thought this is great", says Smart. It's been almost four years since the country celebrated another happy ending, the return of Smart's daughter Elizabeth. In June 2002, Elizabeth, then 14, was kidnapped in the middle of the night from her bed in her Salt Lake City home. Nine months later, she was found alive. No one knows better than Smart about the first emotional moments of a reunion between a family and their rescued child. "For us to have her back, it was just, I want to hold you. I don't want to let you go," says Smart. "You know I don't care what's happened to you. We want to be home and to know you are loved." Brian David Mitchell and his wife Wanda Barzee, 61, were charged with aggravated kidnapping, aggravated sexual assault and aggravated burglary. They were later found unfit to stand trial and were sent to a state psychiatric hospital. Mitchell, a drifter who had done some work on the Smart's home moved around a lot after abducting Elizabeth. He kept her veiled and so scared that when police found her, she wouldn't admit who she was. "If you even as an adult were told if you do something or you and your family would be killed, would you do it? Or would you remain out there in this silent despair?” asks Smart. After Elizabeth was home, Smart says of course he and his wife had a lot of questions but he says they didn't push it. Instead they were cautious and patient. "We tried to be very careful and we wanted to be supportive and helpful. When she wanted to talk about it, we'll talk about it," says Smart. During the ordeal, Smart and his wife Lois never gave up hope that their daughter would be found. "Those nine months were hell", says Smart with tears in his eyes. "And Lois said to me one day, ‘Ed, what would you rather have? Would you rather know that Elizabeth is in a better place not going through this nightmare or would you rather have her come back?’ “I said, ‘Sweetie, I can't help it, I want her back. And we will do whatever we have to, to deal with the issues.’" Smart calls his daughter amazingly strong and says she was able to recover thanks to psychiatrists, family and friends and something else. "I have no doubt the prayers from so many people have helped her get through this," says Smart. These days, Elizabeth is a college freshman majoring in music. She has talked to her dad about the remarkable rescue in Missouri and he says she was thrilled. And she also continues to look toward the future. "She is full of life and loving life and I hope that's exactly what happens in Missouri,” says Smart. "I hope Ben has few side effects and I hope that Shawn is able to pick up his life and move forward the same way Elizabeth has." With the support of her family, Elizabeth prefers to stay out of the media spotlight. Her goal is to put the ordeal behind her.


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