Elizabeth Smart Abduction
In the middle of the night on June 5, 2002, a 14-year-old girl, Elizabeth Smart was kidnapped at knifepoint from her bedroom in an affluent neighborhood (Federal Heights) in Salt Lake City. Elizabeth was led to a camp in the woods near her home, and repeatedly raped, starved and abused, both physically and mentally.
A massive regional search effort ensued (organized by the Laura Recovery Center), where up to 2,000 volunteers a day searched the surrounding area for Elizabeth in the days immediately following her abduction. As that effort eventually came to an end, the Smart family persistently maintained a presence in the national and local media, including posting an artist's rending of an 'Emmanuel' on Larry King Live, and America's Most Wanted. Mitchell's family recognized the drawing was of him, and contacted police providing his real name, Brian David Mitchell, and contemporary photos.
Nine months after her abduction, an alert biker, who had watched the America's Most Wanted program, spotted this homeless preacher, Mitchell, with two strangely dressed (disguised) companions in Sandy, UT, and contacted police. The police soon recognized Elizabeth and reunited them with her family, and took Mitchell and Barzee into custody on suspicion of kidnapping. What a huge relief our community and families felt as Elizabeth was finally found alive! Ed Smart, Elizabeth's father, never stopped believing she was alive.
Both were indicted on charges of aggravated interstate kidnapping, aggravated sexual assault, and aggravated burglary, but were initially found mentally unfit to stand trial. Barzee was later forcibly medicated by a Judge's orders, and then convicted in 2009 for her role in the kidnapping, and sentenced to serve 15-years, in a federal medical center in Fort Wort, TX.
After 3 competency hearings, and 7 years later, Mitchell was finally found fit to stand trial in March 2010. A NYC psychiatrist stated he is suffering from pedophilia, and a range of personality disorders, and that for him, 'lust trumped religion'. In his trial, the defense tried unsuccessfully to convince the jury that he was innocent by reason of insanity, and Mitchell was repeatedly removed from proceedings for disruptive singing. In December 2010, the jury quickly returned a verdict of guilty, and Mitchell was sentenced to serve a life term in federal prison, starting May 25, 2011. His attorneys said Mitchell does not want to file an appeal.
This was an earth-shattering event in my extended family. Elizabeth is my wife's sister's niece. I took several days vacation to help search for her, and was particularly troubled to learn that she could hear the searchers in the woods near her home calling her name, but could not respond because of Mitchell's threats of further violence. Brian Mitchell also graduated my same year, from my same SLC High School (Skyline).
These horrifying criminal acts, strengthened my personal commitment and desires to use my Utah Concealed Carry Permit more often, and bolstered my home defense weapons program, and personal training, in hopes of averting a similar home invasion.
Mike Munnerlyn, Instructor
I am currently retired from teaching. My son-in-law Rob Wilkinson, who used to teach with me, is now teaching on his own. Please call him at 801-671-6773.
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