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.
“Hephzibah!” Mitchell shouted into the morning air.
“Emmanuel!” A woman’s voice replied.
As they got closer Elizabeth could now see they had come upon a campsite where a woman now greeted them. The mere fact that a woman was here gave the young girl a small sense of hope, perhaps they couldn’t have children and the intentions of her abduction were not as lewd as she feared. Maybe they only wanted a child of their own to care for. Her hope soon dissolved though as the woman now approach and embrace her into a deep hug.
Hugs represent affection, comfort, and often times are a way to console grief or pain. This was not any of the above. The woman brought Elizabeth into her arms and squeezed tightly. It wasn’t comforting and it most certainly didn’t console the innocent girl. It was an embrace as if to assert a strange sense of dominance, letting Elizabeth know that she was in control and disobedience was not to be tolerated. Until this moment Elizabeth didn’t think she could feel any more terror, she was wrong.
The woman was cold and hardened, her face wrinkled and aged, her eyes empty of emotion. She had wild brown and gray hair and was dressed in a linen robe. She gave off a feral feeling like she could possibly attack at any moment. It was immediately clear that this woman was not a friend.
Elizabeth glanced around the small campsite, it was extremely well stocked and it was obvious that this had been their home for quite some time. Buckets, tarps, and a tent surround her.
It was then that the woman pull her by her arm into the tent and sat Elizabeth down on an upturned bucket. This was where her nightmare would truly begin.
She began washing Elizabeth’s feet from a basin of warm water and then with assertion behind her voice began giving her directions.
“Take off your pajama’s”
Her tone was dry and matter of fact but Elizabeth reeled back in horror. Aside from her having grown up in such a modest household, she was 14 and extremely shy. Changing in front of others, least of all stripping was not something that she had ever experienced.
“No!” Elizabeth exclaimed with wide eyes.
The woman looked at her and took a deep breath as if she were trying to contain her emotions and hold back the obvious anger behind her eyes. She replied simply with a forced calmness.
“I need to bathe you.”
“I took a shower last night!” Elizabeth pleaded.
The woman pursed her lips and hesitated as she looked towards the tent and called out to her captor.
“She said that she had a shower last night, is that okay?”
“Yeah that’s okay.” Mitchell called back to her, his voice just outside the tent. He sounded anxious and hungry, like an animal in heat.
It was absolutely disgusting. Was she clean enough for him? After being forced out of her bed and up a mountain at knife point, was she clean enough for him? The woman turned back to her and continued with her instructions.
“Take off your clothes.”
Elizabeth’s heart sank even further, fear and embarrassment washing over her body like a wave.
“No.” Elizabeth said again.
The feral woman’s patience was growing thin now as she spat her reply at Elizabeth.
“Take them off or I’ll have him come in and rip them off of you!”
Elizabeth’s eyes filled with tears that began to escape, she couldn’t hold it back any longer. Everything was becoming too real now and there was nothing she could do to stop what was happening. She felt utterly helpless, she knew that if she didn’t obey that she would in fact do as she had said and call the disgusting man to rip her clothes off and she knew he would in fact rip them off. She could feel his filthy hunger through the tent.
“Take them off or he will rip them off of you!” She repeated to the sobbing girl as she handed her a linen robe identical to her own.
It was a robe you could pull over your head, relieved Elizabeth slid the robe on over her red pajamas, removing her clothes only when she was covered by the robe. That relief quickly faded though as the woman barked more instructions.
“Take off your underwear.”
“No!” Elizabeth said through broken sobs.
“Take them off or he’ll rip them off your body.”
Looking hopelessly at the ground, Elizabeth complied and slid off her underwear.
With that the woman made her way to the opening of the tent. Elizabeth was overcome with dread as Brian Mitchell entered the tent. He was now dressed in a linen robe just as she wore, the only difference was there was a sash tied around the waist of his.
It was hard to focus on her breathing through her sobbing, tears rolled down her cheeks as Mitchell began speaking. She didn’t hear much of what he was saying to begin as she choked over her cries but when she did tune back into his words, she realized immediately what was happening and it was as if the earth had stopped spinning.
“I seal you to me on this earth, and what is sealed here on earth will be sealed in the afterlife, and I take you to be my wife. Before God and his angels as my witnesses.”
“No!” Elizabeth screamed.
Suddenly Mitchell moved very close to her and reached out almost as if he were going to slap her. He looked at her with terrifying rage as he addressed her.
“If you ever scream again I’ll kill you.”
She believed him. He forced her off of the bucket now and onto the dirty bedding that was on the tent floor, positioning himself on top of her. There can be no words to properly explain the absolute terror that Elizabeth felt in this moment. She did all she could to fight off the assault but he was bigger and stronger. All she could do was plead.
“Please stop, I’m just a little girl, I haven’t even got my period yet…”
He paused for a moment with this information, it seemed to detour him momentarily. He looked confused like he was trying to work out a math problem in his head. When he couldn’t come to a decision himself he called out to the woman.
“She hasn’t got her period yet. Is it still okay?”
Without a moment of hesitation her raspy voice replied.
That was the first time Brian David Mitchell raped Elizabeth Smart. The first assault unfortunately of many to come in the next nine months. You can’t possibly understand the feelings of shame and disgust if you have never been through it and I won’t pretend for a second to understand what that must have been like at 14 years old. My entire heart goes out to her.
Books: My Story: Elizabeth Smart with Chris Stewart