On September 19, 2018, kidnapper Wanda Ileen Barzee will be set free according to the Utah Board of Pardons. The board surprisingly announced on Tuesday that she will have served her full sentence. Barzee’s victim, Elizabeth Smart, says she’s both “surprised and disappointed” by the decision to release her captor.
Barzee is the wife of Brian David Mitchell, with whom she kidnapped Smart on June 5, 2002. The two took the then 14-year-old at knifepoint from her family’s Salt Lake City home.
The couple held Smart hostage for nine months before she was rescued after witnesses recognized her abductors. Years of court battles ensued, many over the competency of Barzee.
In 2009, Smart testified that she had been tied up and raped daily. She also said her captors also threatened to kill her if she attempted to escape.
In May of 2011, David Mitchell was sentenced to two life sentences for kidnapping and sexual assault charges. Barzee, however, was earlier sentenced to just 15 years in prison. As part of a plea deal, she was given credit for seven years already served since her initial arrest. Originally she was expected to remain in prison until 2024.
“Upon further review and advice from legal counsel, the board must count time spent in federal custody toward Ms. Barzee’s state sentence. Therefore, Ms. Barzee’s state sentence ends on Sept. 19, 2018,” read a statement from the Utah Board of Pardons.
After the announcement, Smart released a statement regarding Barzee’s release.
“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,” Smart wrote.
“I am trying to understand how and why this is happening and exploring possible options,” she continued. “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.”