Before I dive into this case I would like to put this disclaimer out there for those of you reading.
When I am writing about true crime I want to make it very clear how much respect and empathy I have for the victims and those affected by the heinous acts of violence and terror brought forth by their assailants. I am writing these to not only bring awareness to the many victims of violent crimes but also as an educational source for anyone else wishing to explore these subjects. I plan on doing everything I can to make sure that I cover such cases in as respectful a way as I can and to tell their story with all the facts I have at my disposal.
June 5 2002, 3:58 a.m.
Mary Katherine lay in her bed paralyzed by the overwhelming fear that had overtaken her body for what felt like only moments, but in reality had been hours. She trembled under her blanket as she glanced once more to the bed next to her where only a few hours prior Elizabeth had slept soundly. The sheet was flat, her sister was gone. She had hoped that maybe it had been a sick nightmare but it was clear that this was reality and Mary Katherine had to get up.
With that she took one last deep breath before standing up and covering her head with her baby blanket as though to shield her from the scene she had witnessed earlier that night, she then dashed as fast as her small legs would allow across the hall to her parent’s bedroom.
Ed Smart opened his eyes to see his youngest daughter Mary Katherine standing there before him, she looked almost catatonic as she spoke to him in a hollow matter of fact manner.
“Dad, someone has taken Elizabeth.”
Ed sat up quickly, his wife Lois awake now as well, surely there was some kind of mistake or misunderstanding. Mary Katherine had probably just had a bad dream because the words that had come out of her mouth just didn’t make any sense. Lois and Ed retreated out of the bedroom, checking the girl’s room and surely enough Elizabeth was gone. But she had to be in the house somewhere, right? People don’t just disappear. Ed opened their son Charles room calling to him.
“Is Elizabeth in here with you?”
Panic began to set in as Lois and Ed continued to frantically search the house to no avail. Mary Katherine peered solemnly down the stairs at them. She knew that they would not find Elizabeth, she wasn’t in the house, not anymore. She repeated herself, this time hoping maybe they would understand.
“Somebody has taken her, you’re not going to find her.”
Lois was nearly weeping now as terror began to take hold. She looked to the window she had opened early that evening when she had burned the potatoes. She had been in such a hurry to get Elizabeth’s harp into the car for her school program that she had forgot all about the potatoes cooking. She had opened the window to air out the smell of burning food. The window was still open now only upon a closer inspection Lois realized that the screen had been cut.
“Ed call the police”
Immediately Ed phoned the police as the grief stricken cries of Lois filled the room. The children had never seen their mother in such a state, complete and utter agony. The sounds of a mother unable to hold her child and unable to comprehend why this could possibly be happening.
I don’t know this pain and can’t for a moment pretend that I understand what she must have been feeling in that moment but I can in confidence say that to lose your child in the safe haven of your own home must have been such a helpless feeling. Your world falling apart overnight and this was only the beginning of the excruciating journey that lie ahead for the Smart family.
As soon as Ed was off the phone with the police he began the many phone calls to his family and friends. He was calling for anyone and everyone to help in the search and recovery of his oldest daughter Elizabeth, and he did indeed receive that help. They came in numbers.
The 2 police officers were the first to arrive on scene but it wasn’t long at all before the family and friends of the Smart family filled the home. Lois, still completely distraught was in the arms of family and Mary Katherine had finally relaxed just enough to fall asleep in her grandmother’s lap. The surrounding neighbors had also gathered and begun the seemingly endless search for the missing girl.
When detectives arrived to the Smart home it was clear that mistakes that couldn’t be fixed had been made. They made their way into the home, shuffling through the chaos of what was their crime scene. There was no way to reverse this, the crime scene had not been sealed off when the arriving officers first showed up to the home and now any traces of the intruder had undoubtedly been contaminated by the many friends and family whom had arrived.
They did their best to clear the home and began a thorough search but the damage had been done. They got a statement from Mary Katherine but there was virtually no other clues or evidence as to what had happened or who had done this.
Unfortunately in all too many cases like the one the detectives were being presented with currently, someone close to the victim is often involved, so before they could move forward with anything else the questioning of the family took place.
Each member of the family was driven to the police station in a separate vehicle to ensure the validity of each one of their accounts of what happened that night. Lois was an absolute mess, and who wouldn’t be? She couldn’t understand why they weren’t out searching for her daughter and were instead being interrogated. She did understand the process but she feared they were losing critical time, see Lois knew that most victims of kidnapping are dead within the first 24 hours of their abduction. It was an awful statistic that made her nauseous to even acknowledge.
In one final step to clear any and all suspicion of inside involvement in relation to the abduction of Elizabeth Smart, the detectives brought in cadaver dogs to assess the home. Once they were cleared, now it was time to move forward with the search and consider new people of interest that could have potentially been involved.
The one light the family seemed to have as they were making their way through such darkness was the mass amount of offered support to assist in any and all things regarding finding their little girl. Ed’s brother, Tom worked for the Dessert news and made sure to get Elizabeth’s photo and story out to as many people as he could manage. The more exposure this got, the better chance of someone recognizing the young girl and possibly bringing her home.
The police also urged the family to make a media appearance themselves and call for volunteers, they could have never expected the response this would get from the public. Over 2000 volunteers came to assist in finding their little girl. Different people from all walks of life pitched in to scour the surrounding Salt Lake City area and bring Elizabeth home.
Elizabeth had become the community’s child and they weren’t going to rest until she was back home.
Sources for Part 2:
Books: My Story, Elizabeth Smart with Christ Stewart
Purchase this book on amazon at the link below. https://www.amazon.com/My-Story-audiobook/dp/B00ELPUG9A/ref=sr_1_1?crid=3CMSFZA22I5C9&dchild=1&keywords=my+story+elizabeth+smart&qid=1618592681&sprefix=my+story+eliz%2Caps%2C197&sr=8-1