Brian David Mitchell
Brian David Mitchell, also known as Emmanuel, was the man responsible for the kidnapping of 14-year-old Elizabeth Smart on June 5th, 2002.
Brian David Mitchell was born on October 18, 1953, in Salt Lake City, Utah, the third of six children in a Mormon family. His mother was a teacher and his father was a social worker. In order to teach Mitchell about sex, his father reportedly showed his adolescent son explicit photos from a medical journal, and, in order to teach him about independence, he would drive Mitchell to unfamiliar parts of Salt Lake City, and drop him off, leaving him to find his way home.
At age 16, Mitchell exposed himself to a child, and was sent to a juvenile hall. At nineteen, he married and had two children with Karen Minor, who was three years younger than him, making her 16 years old at the time of their marriage. After their divorce, Minor was awarded custody of both children, after which Mitchell temporarily fled with the children to New Hampshire. He resided in New Hampshire for two years, where he joined a Hare Krishna commune.
Mitchell had a history of drug and alcohol abuse in his adult life; upon returning to Salt Lake City, he was inspired to seek sobriety by his brother, who had recently returned from a mission. In Salt Lake City, Mitchell had two additional children with his second wife, Debbie, who herself had three children from a previous marriage. Debbie alleged that Mitchell was abusive during their marriage, and they divorced in 1984. After their separation, Debbie alleged that Mitchell had sexually abused their three-year-old son; the claim could not be medically confirmed, but Mitchell's future visitations with his children were ordered to be supervised by the Division of Child and Family Services. One of Debbie's daughters from her previous marriage would later claim that Mitchell had sexually abused her for four years.
On the day Mitchell and Debbie's divorce was finalized, he married Wanda Elaine Barzee (b. November 6, 1945, in Salt Lake City), a then-forty-year-old divorcee with six children. Together, Mitchell and Barzee were actively involved in the LDS Church, though Mitchell's religious views would become increasingly extreme. Mitchell and Barzee eventually left the church and he began going by the name "Emmanuel," claiming to be a prophet of God who experienced prophetic visions. Barzee began going by the name "Hephzibah," and the two would panhandle and preach in downtown Salt Lake City. Mitchell presented himself in an image that was akin to the image of Jesus, dressing in white robes and tunics, and growing a beard.
In the early hours of June 5, 2002, Mitchell broke into the home of Edward and Lois Smart in the Federal Heights neighborhood of Salt Lake City, where they lived with their six children. He abducted 14-year-old Elizabeth from the bedroom she shared with her nine-year-old sister, Mary Katherine, who was awakened but pretended to be asleep.
For nine months, he and Barzee kept her in captivity and forced her into following their religious extremism, while Brian repeatedly raped her. They kept her chained out in a small enclosure in the yard of their house and would often starve her, force her to drink alcohol, and drug her to make her more docile. They even forced her to change her name to "Esther".
Brian believed that he was a Davidian prophet as well as the reincarnation of the Davidian god and was destined to destroy the Antichrist. He wrote his own scriptures based on his warped beliefs and often forced Elizabeth to read them aloud. He would also pray for them to have sex before raping her and also forcibly "married" Elizabeth in a makeshift ceremony.
On March 12th, 2003; Brian was spotted with two women in Sandy, Utah by a couple who had seen Brian's photos on the news. The women were Elizabeth Smart – disguised in a gray wig, sunglasses, and veil – and Wanda Barzee. Elizabeth was recognized by the officers during questioning, and both Brian and Barzee were arrested. Mitchell is currently serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole at the Federal Penitentiary in Tuscon, Arizona.