Elizabeth Smart’s Kidnapper Wanda Barzee to Be Released From Prison

The woman who helped kidnap Elizabeth Smart in 2002 will be released from prison on September 19.

The Utah Board of Pardons and Parole denied Wanda Barzee an early release date in July after declining to include her eight years in federal custody as time served on state charges. However, the board announced on Tuesday, September 11, that its ruling has now been reversed.

Wanda Barzee
Wanda Barzee looks at her lawyer Scott C. Williams during her forced medication hearing in Judge Judith Atherton’s court in Salt Lake City, Utah, on February 16, 2006. Steve Griffin-Pool/Getty Images

“Upon further review and advice from legal counsel, the board must count time spent in federal custody toward Ms. Barzee’s state sentence,” said the board’s director of administrative services, Greg Johnson, according to The Salt Lake Tribune.

Barzee, 72, will be under federal supervision for five years.

Wanda Barzee and Elizabeth Smart
Elizabeth Smart speaks on stage during the Lifetime and A+E portion of the 2017 Summer Television Critics Association press tour at The Beverly Hilton hotel in Beverly Hills on July 28, 2017. Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

Smart’s father, Ed, told the newspaper on Tuesday that their family is still processing the news. “We’re certainly surprised because we were told she was getting out in 2022,” he added.

In a statement to Us Weekly, Smart said, “I was surprised and disappointed to learn of the pending release of Wanda Barzee. It is incomprehensible how someone who has not cooperated with her mental health evaluations or risk assessments and someone who did not show up to her own parole hearing can be released into our community. I am trying to understand how and why this is happening and exploring possible options. I plan to speak publicly in the coming days once I have a better understanding. I appreciate the support, love and concern that has already been expressed and will work diligently to address the issue of Barzee’s release as well as to ensure changes are made moving forward to ensure this doesn’t happen to anyone else in the future.”

Barzee pleaded guilty in 2009 to helping her husband, Brian David Mitchell, kidnap Smart from her house in the Federal Heights neighborhood of Salt Lake City, Utah. The couple held the 14-year-old captive from June 2002 to March 2003 before she was found nearly 20 miles away from her home.

Barzee was sent to a Utah state prison in April 2016 after finishing her federal sentence in Texas. Mitchell, now 64, was sentenced to life in prison in 2011.

Smart, now 30, works as a child-safety activist. She is expecting her third child with her husband, Matthew Gilmour, whom she married in 2012.

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