It happened at 8 a.m. Utah time on Wednesday.
Wanda Barzee, 72, was released from the Utah Department of Corrections after 15 years behind bars. Barzee infamously helped kidnap Elizabeth Smart at knifepoint in 2002.
Smart just reacted to the news minutes ago on Instagram. She said that her “goal” from now on is live a “happy and beautiful” life with her family.
“Without doubt the past few weeks have been a rollercoaster of emotion, and I would like to take the opportunity to thank everyone for their kind words, support, and concern,” she said. “It has meant so much to me. May we all remain vigilant in watching over our families, friends, and community from anyone who would seek to hurt or take advantage.”
Just yesterday, we saw Smart’s interview with Gayle King of CBS This Morning. In it, she was clear about how she felt about the fact that the woman who was convicted for kidnapping her will be released from prison five years earlier than anticipated.
Barzee has been released due to state parole officials’ decision to credit Barzee for eight years worth of time spent in federal custody. That time served was retroactively applied to her conviction and sentencing on Utah state criminal charges.
Initially, the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole had declined to take those eight years of federal imprisonment into account when considering the possibility of Barzee being paroled earlier this summer. The board’s about-face decision has been described as a “surprise” and comes just months after the initial denial in July of this year.
ln the interview, Smart said something she has before of Barzee, namely that she doesn’t believe Barzee has changed.
“I do believe she’s still a danger […] Through my sources, I’ve heard that she’s still carrying around this ‘book of revelations’ that Brian Mitchell wrote […] that said he should kidnap me, and not just kidnap me but six other young girls, and that we’d all be his wives,” Smart told King. “[C]learly, she hasn’t let it go.”
But Smart also detailed the abuse she suffered at the hands of Barzee and Brian Mitchell.The pair kidnapped Smart from her Salt Lake City home in 2002, when she was 14 years old.
Smart said that she knew from the first time she saw Barzee after being kidnapped that she was “dark” and “evil.”
“I don’t know, just the feeling that kind of radiated from her. It just was dark. And it was evil. And I just knew that she — she wasn’t there to help me, that she wasn’t there to protect me,” she said.
Smart said that Mitchell raped her repeatedly and Barzee watched, making it all the more disturbing that this same person was being released from prison.
“So what do you think she would do?” King asked.
“I don’t know. And perhaps that’s what worries me, because I know just how bad [Barzee] really can be,” Smart replied. “She would encourage him to rape me. She would sit right next to me. Like, the side of her body would be touching me […] While he was raping me. I mean, she was right there.”
According to NBC News, Barzee’s attorney Scott Williams disputed that his client was a risk to the community, calling it “unfair and counterproductive to make those assertions.”
“She should be allowed to demonstrate compliance with conditions of supervised federal release after a sentence that resulted from a settlement with the United States of America, the state of Utah and the Smart Family,” Williams said.
Barzee will reportedly be watched closely by authorities in the event that she “messes up.”
[Image via Salt Lake County Jail]
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