If it weren’t for Mary Katherine Smart — Elizabeth Smart’s younger sister — it’s likely that the miraculous story of a kidnapped girl rescued nine months after her abduction would’ve ended very, very differently.

Mary Katherine was only nine when her sister, 14, was snatched in the middle of the night from the room where they shared a bed; thinking quickly on her feet, Mary Katherine decided to pretend to be asleep when a man with a knife, later identified as Brian David Mitchell, entered their room and took Elizabeth away.

“I was sort of awake, and I saw this guy in my room, and I’m like, ‘Who is he?’ I saw him come in over to my side and then I saw him walk over to Elizabeth and he tapped her, and she’s like, ‘What is it?’ And I guess she thought it was me,” Mary Katherine said in her first interview in 2005, three years after her sister was kidnapped.

She then went to tell her parents, but saw the mysterious man escorting her sister down the hallway; terrified, she decided to go back to her room.

“I thought, you know, be quiet because if he hears you, he might take you too, and you’re the only person who has seen this,” she said. Two hours after that, she went to her parents and said, “Elizabeth’s gone” — and her parents, Ed and Lois, immediately assumed she was having a bad dream, but it didn’t take long for them to discover the horrifying truth.

Several months after her sister’s disappearance, she began to realize that the reason she recognized the kidnapper’s voice is because it belonged to “Emmanuel,” which was the name Mitchell gave the Smarts when he was given work doing odd jobs around the Smarts' house, something they did routinely with unemployed people in the area.

When Mary Katherine told her parents, they immediately went to authorities, who opted not to pursue the lead. The family ended up using a private sketch artist and going to America’s Most Wanted, where one of “Emmanuel” — aka Mitchell’s — relatives identified him and alerted the police of his real name.

Shortly thereafter, a biker spotted Mitchell with two people — one of whom was Elizabeth, who was reunited with her family after nine months of captivity.

Today, Mary Katherine — like her family — has moved on past the tragedy that plagued her youth, and today she’s engaged to be married!

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