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.
Time seemed to slow down as they made their way further up the wooded mountainside. Adrenaline and fear coursed through Elizabeth’s veins, so badly she wanted to run, she prayed harder than she ever had in her life. She needed a miracle, an opening for a way out, anything. Had she missed something? Was there a sign from God that she just hadn’t seen? This couldn’t be what was meant of her life. There had to be hope.
She wondered if she could jump behind a bush and hide, maybe the forest would part like Moses had parted the red sea, maybe she could out run him… All of these thoughts seemed to slowly fade as she assessed the reality of the situation though. He stayed behind her, pushing her up the mountain, and the knife always at her back. There was no way to run without likely being killed in the process.
“Please if it’s money you want I know my parents will pay anything to get me back”
Elizabeth’s pleas to her captor were ignored. He had mentioned ransom before and while she knew her parents didn’t have hundreds of thousands of dollars at their disposal, she also knew they would do anything and everything to have her safely returned home.
“Please, don’t you know what you’re doing? If you get caught you’ll be put in prison for the rest of your life. If you let me go my parents won’t press charges I promise!”
Elizabeth was willing to say anything at this point, she had never felt such desperation.
The man smiled that same sickly smirk as he had not too long ago and looked at Elizabeth, narrowing his eyes, he replied with terrifying confidence.
“I know exactly what I’m doing and I know what the consequences are. The only difference is, I’m not going to get caught.”
Higher and higher they trekked up the mountain, it wasn’t long before the sun was coming up now. It felt surreal, had it really been that long? It didn’t seem like this nightmare could have possibly already bled into the morning. Were people looking for her? Did anyone even know she was gone?
“We’ve got to run across the top of this mountain now because you’re like a flame. You’re like a bright red flame on top of a mountain and I don’t want any early morning runners seeing how lovely you look in your pajamas.”
It was the most the deranged man had said since he had taken her out of her bedroom hours prior. The comment made her feel sick. ‘How lovely you look.’ It sounded lascivious and lustful and sent chills up the young girls back.
The red pajamas Elizabeth wore were not the only distinguishing factors that the rising sun brought with it. It was then that she realized she had seen this man before. Twice she had seen him.
It was months ago now and his appearance was much different than the grizzly man standing before her. Night and day. He had been clean shaven and looked like any other normal working class man who was just down on his luck at the time. It was hard to wrap her mind around the fact that this was the same person. The monster that present himself now had a long scraggly unkempt beard, he smelled of alcohol, and his eyes were full of cruelty. It was amazing she even recognized this as the same person.
Elizabeth had been out with her mother and siblings shopping for school clothes. Her brothers had gone off to look at another store while she, Mary Katherine, and her mother go elsewhere. Her brother had come back across the street to talk to their mother about a man that had needed work, this man.
Elizabeth’s mother Lois was a kind and nurturing woman and it was just second nature for her to oblige and talk to the stranger about what they could do to help. She gave the man $5 and her husband’s number to arrange for him to come do some work on the family’s home.
He did in fact reach out and he did in fact come work on their roof. Only once though, after that he never showed back up for more work and never contacted the family again. It would be this day that the man would scout out the layout of the family home and begin his planning to take Elizabeth Smart.
She didn’t know it at the time but the day they briefly met in Salt Lake City would be the day that set this wicked plan in motion. He had been preparing for this night for months. It was calculated down to every minor detail, he had practiced this route multiple times to make sure he could avoid being out in the open when the sun came up. It was so methodical it was almost genius.
The realization of who he was sent Elizabeth into a deep confusion, she just couldn’t understand why someone who had been offered nothing but help could come back and do something so cruel. Had her family done something? What was the reason? She couldn’t figure it out.
“Why are you doing this? My family only wanted to help you!” Elizabeth asked, her mind trying to make sense of it.
He answered her dry and vaguely, “You’ll find out in due time.”
Suddenly the man paused and cried out.
A voice called back to him in reply, “Emmanuel!”
His name wasn’t Emmanuel, his name was Brian David Mitchell and he was a 49 year old self proclaimed prophet. He alleged that the end times were coming and he was to take 7 young wives to guide humanity to the way of God. 7 virgin wives more specifically.
Brian David Mitchell had a disturbing pattern of sexual offenses against children, as most who eventually escalate to this degree of depravity do. At only 16 he was sent to a juvenile hall for exposing himself to a child. Behavior such as this almost always a preface to more vile circumstances. A red flag for much darker things to come.
At 19 he married his first wife Karen Minor who was 3 years his junior, making her only 16 at the time of their marriage. Eventually they would divorce and when they did Karen was granted custody of the 2 children the couple had shared. Mitchell would flee to New Hampshire with the children, although he was never charged with this crime.
He would go on to marry his second wife Debbie who has made many allegations indicating that Brian David Mitchell not only physically abused her throughout their marriage but sexually abused their 3 year old son. Although not medically confirmed, personally I think it’s pretty clear that this is a pattern and it’s a high probability that he is guilty of all he was accused of. Debbie’s daughter from her previous marriage would later go on to say that Mitchell sexually abused her for four years as well.
Lastly, Mitchell would meet one Wanda Barzee who would become his 3rd wife and later accomplice to this crime. They became heavily involved in the LDS church but eventually Brian David Mitchell’s religious views would become so extreme that he would leave the church to explore himself now as the prophet Emmanuel David Isaiah.
I’m sure it’s probably no surprise that he was also heavily involved in drugs and alcohol, he had a brief stint of sobriety upon his move to Salt Lake City, although that was short lived.
He and his wife Wanda Barzee who by now he referred to as Hephzibah spent their time panhandling and “ministering” in Salt Lake City. They lived what was a very transient lifestyle. Brian David Mitchell can claim all he wants that he is the voice of God but that could never be the case.
Mitchell is many things, but a prophet is not one of them. He didn’t take Elizabeth because he wanted to save humanity by marrying 7 virgins, Brian David Mitchell kidnapped her because he is a pedophile and a sociopath who would do anything to get what he wanted.
Let’s talk about sociopaths for a moment because I have read articles on top of articles about this waste of space and not heard anything about him being sociopathic, so this is purely my own speculation.
A sociopath is generally defined as someone who lacks general understanding of others emotions, even their own to a certain extent, it is diagnosed as a personality disorder and not every single person diagnosed with such is going to kidnap and rape innocent people obviously. The more severe sociopathic behaviors are the lack of remorse for pain inflicted whether be emotional or physical, a basic lack of empathy more or less.
They can also be described as being very charming and charismatic, do you know why that is? Manipulation, they will mirror your mannerisms and emotional responses to certain things in order to come across genuine when trying to get what they want. A chameleon of sorts.
Why is this relevant? Well Brian David Mitchell used religious antics to get what he wanted from life, and he couldn’t have chosen a more perfect setting. Salt Lake City, Utah. Come on. It doesn’t get better than that in finding a place to “minister.” He came off as the clean cut man just needing some work when he needed to, he manipulates police and would even go on to manipulate a homicide detective with young Elizabeth standing right there next to him. He can talk is way out of everything because he blends to whatever he needs to be to get what he needs. It’s absolutely terrifying.
I’m purposely not covering anything on Brian David Mitchell’s early childhood as I don’t care how rough his upbringing was. I’m aware that in order to truly understand the way people like this think it is important to take into account those developmental years, and I did read about them but I won’t be adding that to his description here as this is the story of Elizabeth and what she went through. I will not cater to any ounce of empathy toward this man. I did link the article I got my information from below if you do want to read about his early childhood.
My Story: Elizabeth Smart with Chris Stewart
If you’re interested in reading this book, I linked it on amazon below (: