DRAPER, Utah - Wanda Barzee, the woman who helped Brian David Mitchell kidnap Elizabeth Smart from her bedroom back in 2002 and held her captive for nine months, is up for parole.
Barzee, 72, refused to attend her hearing, instead informing corrections officers that she did not wish to be transported. Angela Micklos, a member of the Utah Board of Pardons & Parole, also said Barzee has refused to participate in required psychological evaluations.
"That has not been done to date. Ms. Barzee refused to meet with the prison psychologist last month just for a psych review," she said.
Elizabeth Smart did not attend the hearing, but her father, Ed Smart, showed up after it had concluded. He said he believes Barzee still follows Mitchell, who is serving life in a federal prison.
"I recently heard she’s still following Mitchell, carries around his little bitty bible and her refusal to come today seems like an indicator that she’s still of the same mindset she was at the time she took Elizabeth," he told reporters.
Smart said his daughter has moved on with her life and he would leave it up to mental health professionals to recommend if Barzee is released.
"I don’t think I have concerns for Elizabeth or our family, but if she were to go back to the same scenario that she’s been, she was really an encouragement to Mitchell to abduct Elizabeth," he said. "I would hate for her to have the opportunity to do that to somebody else."
Elizabeth Smart later posted her thoughts on the parole hearing to Instagram:
It’s only 11:00am and today has already been an eventful day. This morning was the parole hearing for Wanda Barzee, one of the people who kidnapped and held me captive for nine months. The funny side of this morning was I got to the state prison once it was already over 😬, that was just due to a silly mix up. And the good news is she was not released. However what I find troubling is that regardless of her threat level she will be released in 2024, six years from now. It is possible that she could be paroled before then....hopefully not. I do not think I’m a vindictive or vengeful person, if change were truly possible in her case then perhaps parole/release could be justified. But I have recently learned that she is still carrying around a manuscript called,”The Book of Immanuel David Isaiah” and is reading from it. In this manuscript were the “revelations” Mitchell “received” from God to kidnap myself and 6 other young girls to all become his wives, it also “revealed” his other highly disturbing and dangerous ideas. This is proof to me that she hasn’t changed, and if the prior 15+ years hasn’t changed her I don’t see how the future years will. I will continue to pray that she will never be a threat to myself, my family, or any vulnerable person ever again. A lot can happen between now and the years to come so in the meantime I will continue to make my family my priority, working to advocate and protect victims and children, and live my life the best way I know how.
Barzee is serving a one-to-15 year sentence in the Utah State Prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit kidnapping. She entered the prison in 2016 after serving a stint in federal system.
Her sentence is scheduled to expire in 2024, meaning she would have to be released by then regardless of any mandatory mental health evaluation. Micklos signaled the parole board is unlikely to release her immediately without that evaluation.
"Without that additional information, we’re left, basically, guessing what her current status is. We will not be making any decision until we receive more information," she said.
Barzee's lawyer, Scott Williams, told reporters that he believed she should already have been out by now. The deal with the feds called for a concurrent sentence.
"She should be out because 15 years has passed and I don’t think, and I’m trying to understand how the state of Utah thinks they can hold her more than 15 years on a 15 year sentence maximum," he said.
Williams said he sent information on Barzee's plea deal to the parole board. Greg Johnson, a spokesman for the board, said they would evaluate it and make an ultimate decision on Barzee's fate within two to four weeks.