In surprise move, Elizabeth Smart kidnapper Wanda Barzee to be released from prison

This 2016 file photo provided by the Salt Lake County Sheriff's Office shows Wanda Barzee. Barzee, a woman convicted of helping a former street preacher kidnap Elizabeth Smart as a teenager from her Salt Lake City bedroom in 2002 and hold her captive will be released from prison next week. The surprise move announced Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2018, comes after authorities determined they had miscalculated the time Barzee previously served in federal custody. | Photo courtesy of Salt Lake County Sheriff's Office via The Associated press, St. George News

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A woman convicted of helping a former street preacher kidnap Elizabeth Smart as a teenager in 2002 from her Salt Lake City bedroom and hold her captive will be freed from prison in a surprise move announced Tuesday by state authorities.

This 2016 file photo provided by the Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office shows Wanda Barzee. Barzee, a woman convicted of helping a former street preacher kidnap Elizabeth Smart as a teenager from her Salt Lake City bedroom in 2002 and hold her captive will be released from prison next week. | Photo courtesy of Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office via The Associated press, St. George News

Wanda Barzee, 72, will be released Sept. 19 after the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole determined it had miscalculated the time she previously served in federal custody, board spokesman Greg Johnson said in a news release.

She will be under federal supervision for five years.

Barzee pleaded guilty to kidnapping Smart and helping keep her captive for nine months before Smart was found and rescued.

Smart, now 30, didn’t immediately have comment on the pending release.

The board said previously that Barzee would be released in January 2024 after it denied her an early parole following a hearing that she chose not to attend.

At the June hearing, her attorney questioned the calculation of her release date, which led the Utah board to look into it. Lawyer Scott Williams said Tuesday he’s appreciative the board reviewed it and agreed with his assessment.

Williams said he’s not concerned about Barzee being a danger to the community but declined to say why he believes that.

In this July 6, 2017, file photo, kidnapping victim Elizabeth Smart speaks to reporters during a tour of the state crime lab in Taylorsville, Utah. Wanda Barzee, a woman convicted of helping a former street preacher kidnap Elizabeth Smart as a teenager from her Salt Lake City bedroom in 2002 and hold her captive will be released from prison next week. | Associated Press photo by Rick Bowmer, St. George News

Smart said in an Instagram post after the hearing that she’s not a vindictive person but was worried about Barzee’s release after learning she was still carrying a manuscript containing revelations that accomplice Brian David Mitchell said he received from God telling him to kidnap Smart.

She said the manuscript also contains other “disturbing and dangerous ideas.” She didn’t say how she knows Barzee has the book.

Smart’s abduction from her bedroom at knifepoint by a man who came in through an open kitchen window triggered waves of fear among parents around the country.

Smart was found nine months later while walking with Barzee and Mitchell on a street in the suburb of Sandy, Utah, by people who recognized the couple from media reports.

Mitchell is serving a life sentence after being convicted of kidnapping and raping Smart. He and Barzee were married at one point.

Barzee was sent to the Utah state prison in April 2016 after finishing a federal sentence in Texas.

Smart, now married with two children, has written a book about the harrowing ordeal and helped make a Lifetime movie and documentary about the crime and her life. She is now a child safety activist who regularly gives speeches.

Written by BRADY McCOMBS, Associated Press.

Email: news@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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5 Comments

  • Proud Rebel September 11, 2018 at 1:57 pm

    This individual should NEVER see the light of day. Her only way out should be the grave.

  • mesaman September 11, 2018 at 8:51 pm

    Barzee’s whereabouts should be made public and neighborhoods should be warned of her attempts to settle in them.

  • jpff September 11, 2018 at 8:57 pm

    I feel disturbed that she is leaving prison after such a short time there. This was a very bad crime she willingly took part in. Just because someone is eligible for parole does not mean he/she should be paroled.

  • Diana September 11, 2018 at 11:09 pm

    If they release her, she should be registered as a sex offender since she was there and let it happen.

  • Red2Blue310 September 12, 2018 at 11:53 am

    She can move to La Verkin where she will blend in.

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