Elizabeth Smart, who was kidnapped as a 14-year-old and sexually abused for nine months before being rescued, urged authorities Thursday not to release one of her captors, 72-year-old Wanda Barzee.
The Utah Board of Pardons and Parole announced Tuesday that Barzee would be released from prison next Wednesday, a decision Smart told reporters during an afternoon news conference was “a very big shock.”
She reiterated that Barzee, a mother of six, stood by as her husband, street pastor Brian David Mitchell, raped the then-teenage victim daily.
Mitchell, who took Smart at knife point, is serving life behind bars.
“I do believe she’s a threat,” Smart said. Later, she added, “For me, I know the depth of her depravity.”
Scott Williams, Barzee’s attorney, told NBC affiliate KSL that his client would be released under terms that include supervision. NBC News reached out for his reaction to Smart’s remarks but did not get an immediate response.
Barzee was sentenced in 2010 to 15 years in federal prison for her role in Smart’s 2002 abduction from her Salt Lake City bedroom. In 2016 she was released but then faced 1-15 years in state prison for separate attempted abduction of Smart’s cousin.
The board this week stated that after a recent legal review of Barzee’s time behind bars it has discovered that six of the years she spent in federal prison should count toward the state sentence, thus making her eligible for release.
“The Board of Pardons and Parole does not have legal authority to hold Ms. Barzee beyond September 19, 2018,” the body’s statement reads.
“I would urge the powers that be and anyone that works under them to strongly reconsider this situation,” Smart said. “Wanda Barzee saw me as her slave … She did appalling things while I was in captivity.”
Smart said that, as a Christian, she forgave Barzee years ago but that this doesn’t mean she would ever be “let her her back into my life.”
“I think people should realize she is dangerous,” Smart said.