The man charged with kidnapping Elizabeth Smart in 2002 will not face state charges. A Utah judge signed an order to dismiss these charges since a federal jury already convicted him in December.
Brian David Mitchell was sentenced to two life terms on charges of kidnapping and unlawful transportation of a minor across state lines for sex. Mitchell has decided not to appeal the sentences.
Court papers say the dismissal of the pending state case is in the interest of justice since Mitchell is already serving life terms for the kidnapping.
The Case Against Mitchell
According to federal prosecutors, when Mitchell abducted 14-year-old Elizabeth Smart and held her for 9 months, he called himself a street prophet, preaching to help the homeless. Mitchell and his wife, Wanda Ileen Barzee, allegedly kidnapped Smart from the bedroom she shared with her sister, Mary Katherine, in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Mary Katherine witnessed the break-in and was able to give her parents a general description of the perpetrator, but she never got a good look at his face.
A massive search effort was organized by volunteers in the days following Smart’s abduction. The creation of many different websites along with the distribution of fliers got the word out around the region about this missing child. But after many days of trying to find Smart, the local search was closed down.
There were many challenges involved in the hunt for Smart’s kidnappers. In addition to not having very much detail on the alleged criminal’s face, no clear DNA samples or fingerprint evidence existed.
After using bloodhounds to determine the kidnapper’s path and interviewing hundreds of potential witnesses, authorities weren’t any closer to finding Smart or bringing her abductors to justice.
A break in the case happened when Mary Katherine was finally able to identify the person she saw enter the bedroom to kidnap her sister. She claimed it was a man named Emmanuel, who had worked on the Smart’s property. This man called himself a minister to the homeless and often informed people in need that the Smart family would hire them for various jobs.
When the Smarts told police about their daughter’s ability to point out Elizabeth’s kidnapper, they were met with some doubts. Officials did not think it was a worthy lead. So the family turned to the media for help, enlisting the assistance of John Walsh and “America’s Most Wanted”.
Just over 9 months after the abduction, Mitchell, who had gone by the name of Emmanuel, was spotted by a biker in Sandy, Utah. Coincidentally, the man who identified Mitchell had just seen the story about Smart on “America’s Most Wanted” the night before.
Mitchell and Barzee were taken into custody as the suspected kidnappers by law enforcement. For her part, Barzee is now serving a 15-year prison sentence.
Elizabeth Smart has recently been hired by ABC News as a contributor to “Good Morning, America” and “Nightline”. Smart’s role will be to report on missing children and missing person cases in the news.