One of the people who helped abduct Elizabeth Smart will be released from prison next week.
Utah’s Board of Pardons and Parole announced Tuesday that Wanda Barzee’s incarceration will end September 19, the Associated Press reports. The Board made this decision after realizing they’d miscalculated the amount of time that 72-year-old Barzee had already spent in federal custody.
Barzee—who assisted street preacher Brian David Mitchell in kidnapping 14-year-old Smart from her Salt Lake City home and holding her captive in nearby Sandy, Utah—wasn’t supposed to be released in 2024. At a June hearing, Barzee’s attorney argued that their client’s release date might be inaccurate. After looking into it, the Board agreed.
Smart, who is now a child safety advocate and occasional TV correspondent, has not yet commented on the news of Barzee’s release, reports the AP.
Update (3:03 p.m. EST)
Elizabeth Smart has commented on Wanda Barzee’s release, reports Salt Lake’s KSL.
“It is incomprehensible how someone who has not cooperated with her mental health evaluations or risk assessments and someone who did not show up to her own parole hearing can be released into our community,” said Smart in a statement.
“I am trying to understand how and why this is happening and exploring possible options. I plan to speak publicly in the coming days once I have a better understanding. I appreciate the support, love and concern that has already been expressed and will work diligently to address the issue of Barzee’s release as well as to ensure changes are made moving forward to ensure this doesn’t happen to anyone else in the future,” she said.