SANDY, UTAH — On March 13, 2003, a tip led investigators to the home of Brian David “Emmanuel” Mitchell and his partner, Wanda Barzee — a pair of sexually twisted religious fanatics turned kidnappers.
The previous June, Mitchell had abducted 13-year-old Elizabeth Smart at knifepoint from her Salt Lake City Bedroom. Elizabeth’s younger sister Mary Katherine was present during the crime, while hiding under her covers, and heard Mitchell speak.
In October 2002, Mary Katherine suddenly realized that she thought she recognized the voice of the invader. She said he sounded like “Emmanuel,” an unemployed drifter-type the devout, service-minded Smart family hired to rake leaves and do odd jobs.
Since the Smarts didn’t know the so-called Emmanuel’s real name, a police artist came up with an image based on their descriptions. Mitchell’s own family recognized him immediately and supplied the police with photos.
Finally, one March day, a pair of callers alerted local cops to a man walking with two females in the Salt Lake City suburb of Sandy. It was indeed “Emmanuel” along with Wanda Barzee and — disguised in a wig, sunglasses, and veil — Elizabeth Smart.
Nightmarish details emerged fast. The couple had held Smart against her will and committed unconscionable abuse of every variation against her. The self-proclaimed “prophet” Mitchell had declared the child his “wife” and raped her relentlessly. Barzee, in turn, beat, starved, and humiliated Smart to inhuman extremes.
Due to ongoing delays centered on Mitchell’s sanity and competency to stand trial, eight years passed before he was sentenced in 2010 to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Barzee, on the other hand, cut a plea deal and got two 15-year sentences. She’s set to be released in 2024 — but, to the outrage of many, she will be eligible for parole later in 2018!
Reportedly, Barzee stands by her original sick “mission.” In November, Barzee, now 72, stated in an interview from her prison cell:
“I was commanded to obey the law of the celestial kingdom or be destroyed. For behold, Elizabeth Smart, [Mitchell and I] are the pioneers whereby celestial marriage has been restored to the earth in the establishment of the celestial kingdom of God!”
In addition, Barzee still maintains that Mitchell is the “righteous right hand of God.”
Even more chilling now is that a Missouri mom said she sent a letter to Barzee in jail, after which several of the convict’s “apostles” showed up at the woman’s front door!
The unnamed mother of two daughters said she had written to Barzee to inquire about what could have possibly motivated her. Instead of just a letter in response, though, the woman says that people claiming to have been sent by Barzee knocked on her door one day and wanted to talk to her.
The panicked mom told the press that Barzee also did write back, insisting that, when freed, she’d resurrect her “celestial kingdom” and added:
“For Elizabeth Smart to have fallen, I’m in need of a handmaid to take her place.”
The Missouri woman said she padlocked her home, but that individuals claiming Barzee dispatched them have come back “several times.”
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Main photos: Wanda E. Barzee in 2016 [Salt Lake County Jail]; Elizabeth Smart/official publicity photo [promotional image from ElizabethSmart.com]