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Elizabeth Smart gained national fame in 2003 when she was rescued after being kidnapped and held captive for nine months.
Ed Smart - Today (Aftermath) (1:00)
Ed Smart recounts what was going through his mind immediately following his daughter Elizabeth’s abduction.
Ed Smart, father of Elizabeth Smart, talks about becoming an activist and becoming involved in his community.
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Born in Utah in 1987, the harrowing ordeal and impressive bravery of Elizabeth Smart gained her national fame in 2003. Smart, who was 14 at the time, was rescued with the help of an America's Most Wanted episode after being kidnapped and held captive for nine months.
"I don't think it's worth spending time in the past. It's not something I think about."
Elizabeth Smart was born on November 3, 1987, in Salt Lake City, Utah. She is the second of six children born to Lois and Ed Smart, both devout members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Her mother is a homemaker and her father is a highly successful real estate developer. As a youngster, Smart was known as a kind, smart, shy and obedient child. Her greatest passion was the harp, which she began playing at the age of 5 and practiced for hours each day.
By the time she reached middle school, Smart was sought out to perform as a harpist at local weddings and funerals, and she played numerous recitals—including opening for the Utah Symphony under Salt Lake City's Capitol Rotunda. Smart was also a skilled equestrienne and distance runner who was training to compete in cross-country racing when she reached high school. She attended Bryant Intermediate School, where she was known as an intelligent and diligent student.
On June 2, 2002, when she was 14 years old, Smart and her family attended an end-of-year awards ceremony at her school, where she won several awards for academics and physical fitness. Early the next morning, about an hour after midnight, Smart was awakened in the bedroom she shared with her younger sister Mary Katherine by the sound of footsteps and the feeling of cold metal against her cheek. A man whispered, "I have a knife to your neck. Don't make a sound. Get out of bed and come with me, or I will kill you and your family." The kidnapper, a man by the name of Brian Mitchell, led Smart out of the house and marched her for hours through the forest to a camp where his wife, Wanda Barzee, was waiting.
Mitchell fancied himself a prophet named Immanuel, and after performing a bizarre wedding ceremony—he was also a polygamist—he declared Smart to be his wife and raped her. "I tried to fight him off me," she later testified. "A 14-year-old girl against a grown man doesn't even out so much." Mitchell and Barzee held Smart captive for the next nine months as they moved between California and Utah. Mitchell raped Smart daily—sometimes multiple times per day—and frequently kept her tethered to a tree. He forced her to consume vast quantities of alcohol, marijuana and other drugs and often did not feed her for days—bringing Smart to the brink of starvation. All the while, Mitchell attempted to indoctrinate Smart in his bizarre religious beliefs and convince her that he was a prophet.
The night of Smart's kidnapping, her younger sister Mary Katherine had pretended to be asleep in the other bed while silently attempting to observe her sister's kidnapper in the dark. "I stayed in bed," she recalled. "I was scared. I couldn't do anything. I was just shocked, petrified.
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