When 14-year-old Elizabeth Smart was abducted from her childhood bedroom in 2002, it became one of the most important true crime stories of the decade. Her sister, Mary Katherine, had pretended to be asleep while she heard a somewhat familiar voice threaten Elizabeth and then walk her quietly out of the house.

During the nine months Elizabeth was held captive, she was forced to take drugs, drink alcohol, and look at pornographic images. She says she was “raped on a daily basis,” sometimes “up to three or four times” per day.

Elizabeth’s story could have ended even more horribly than it began, but she was found nine months after her disappearing from her childhood home in the middle of the night. Now, Elizabeth works as a child safety activist and contributor for ABC News. Keep reading to find out the harrowing details of her captors.

elizabeth smart

Who is Brian David Mitchell?

The now 64-year-old was a local beggar who worked on the Smart family’s roof in the fall of 2001, using an alias. To Elizabeth, he was known as Emmanuel. He claimed he was a “prophet of God who experienced prophetic visions.” He and his wife Wanda would panhandle and preach to passersby in Salt Lake City. Brian often wore long white robes and tunics. He also grew a beard and likened himself to Jesus.

Prior to kidnapping and raping Elizabeth, he and Wanda attended The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, where Brian’s religious views would grow to what only be called the extreme. After abducting Elizabeth, they camped out at the Wasatch Mountains, he put on a “wedding ceremony,” announced Elizabeth his wife, and renamed her “Shearjashub.”

What happened to Elizabeth Smart’s abductors?

Brian and Wanda were arrested and charged with aggravated kidnapping, aggravated burglary, and sexual assault. In 2011, Elizabeth confronted Brian while he was being sentenced.

“I don’t have very much to say to you,” she said. “I know exactly what you did. I know that you know what you did was wrong. You did it with a full knowledge. I also want you to know that I have a wonderful life now, that no matter what you do will it affect me again. You took away nine months of my life that can never be returned, but in this life or next, you will have to be held responsible for those actions, and I hope you are ready for when that time comes.”

elizabeth smart abductors

Brian was sentenced to life in federal prison for holding Elizabeth captive for nine months. During the trial in 2010, he was declared mentally ill.

Wanda was sentenced to 15 years in prison and given credit for seven years already served as a result of her cooperating with police regarding her husband’s charges. Wanda pled guilty to kidnapping and unlawful transportation of a minor across state lines.

Who is Wanda Eileen Barzee?

Wanda was a divorcee with six children when she married Brian. Around the time Brian began going by the name “Emmanuel,” Wanda adapted the name “God Adorneth.” Elizabeth has said that Wanda treated her like a slave, denying her food and water for days at a time and that she was jealous that Elizabeth was the object of Brian’s sexual affections.

How was Elizabeth Smart rescued?

Prior to Elizabeth’s rescue, her sister Mary Katherine identified Brian as Elizabeth’s kidnapper. On March 12, 2003, Elizabeth was found while walking around the suburbs of Salt Lake City, Utah with her two captors. Elizabeth had been wearing a sort of disguise during the walk — a wig, sunglasses, and a veil covering her head.

Police were alerted to the sighting of Brian after the two people who phoned the cops recognized Brian from a police sketch. At the time, Brian was wanted for questioning.

Did Elizabeth Smart have a baby with her captor?

No. Elizabeth did not have a baby with her captor. She is now a mom of two and has been married to her husband Matthew Gilmour since 2012.

What happened to Wanda Barzee and Brian David Mitchell?

The couple married in 1985. Brian’s stepdaughter Louree Gaylor revealed that when she was 12 years old he was “kissing and holding me the wrong way,” which prompted her to run away from home by the time she was 15. Both Wanda and Brian were later excommunicated from the Church. At the time, Brian was frustrated, feeling that the church had “lost its way” by no longer encouraging polygamy.

Louree called Brian abusive “to a degree. He shot a dog in front of us, made me eat my own rabbit for dinner, things like that.”

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