By Dan Whitcomb, Reuters News Service
SALT LAKE CITY (Reuters) - Investigators on Friday tried to piece
together the nine months Elizabeth Smart spent away from home as
reports surfaced that she may have been forced into a polygamous
relationship with the fanatical street preacher suspected of
Police and family members said that Elizabeth, who was taken from her
bedroom at knife-point, suffered from profound psychological stress
during her random travels through Utah and California and ultimately
fell under his sway.
Prosecutors were expected to bring charges against Brian David
Mitchell and his wife Wanda Barzee on Friday amid lingering questions
over the extent of Elizabeth's ordeal and the failure of police to
focus earlier on the drifter.
Salt Lake Police chief Rick Dinse said that Mitchell was a
"self-proclaimed polygamist" and had left behind a manifesto spelling
out his unconventional beliefs. Dinse has declined to say whether
Elizabeth was sexually assaulted.
Investigators expected the manifesto to shed light on Mitchell's
motives and possibly even spell out his plans for Elizabeth, who he
apparently targeted after working briefly at the Smart home.
NBC news reported Elizabeth told police that after her abduction last
June she was forced into a "polygamous relationship" with Mitchell.
Elizabeth's father, Ed Smart, has said that Mitchell was "fixated" on
his daughter. But the family say they have been reluctant to press
Elizabeth for details, focusing instead on surrounding her with love
and a sense of security.
Mitchell's control over Elizabeth was so complete that when first
confronted by police on the day of her rescue the 15-year-old -- who
was wearing flowing white robes, a veil, dark sunglasses and a scarf
-- insisted that her name was "Augustine."
When the officers pressed her, she reportedly blurted out: "I know
who you think I am, you think I'm that Elizabeth Smart girl who ran
Officers told reporters they finally broke through by taking
Elizabeth away from Mitchell, 49, and Barzee, 57. As they pressed
Elizabeth again, tears welled up in her eyes and she responded: "Thou
Ed Smart believes that Mitchell "brainwashed" his daughter and her
uncle, Tom Smart, said that she was a victim of Stockholm Syndrome
and would require counseling.
The Stockholm Syndrome refers to prisoners taken hostage who then
identify with their captors, based on what happened in 1973 during a
prolonged Stockholm bank robbery. America's most famous example of
the syndrome was heiress Patricia Hearst, who was kidnapped by the
radical Symbionese Liberation Army and ultimately joined them.
Family members say Elizabeth, an accomplished harp player, good
student and devout Mormon, has been recovering remarkably well from
her abduction. The Salt Lake Tribune reported that she is embarrassed
by the publicity surrounding her case and is eager to return to
SISTER TOLD POLICE MITCHELL MAY HAVE BEEN KIDNAPPER
Elizabeth's 9-year-old sister, Mary Katherine, witnessed the
abduction and told police in October that the kidnapper may have been
Mitchell. But police downplayed his significance as a possible
suspect and did not release a sketch of him until February.
Family members have said that police did not take seriously enough
the convictions of Mary Katherine, who is now 10 and never wavered
from her story. Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson said he wants a
review of the investigation.
Dinse said Mitchell took Elizabeth into the mountains above her home
for two months after the abduction and later traveled with her and
Barzee to San Diego, where he spent six days in jail in February
under another name. San Diego police did not connect him to her
Mitchell, Barzee and Elizabeth returned to Salt Lake and were spotted
on Wednesday afternoon by passersby who recognized Mitchell -- though
not the missing girl whose picture was plastered across their city as
a kidnap victim.
Before leaving for San Diego sometime last October, the three were
spotted repeatedly around Salt Lake City and lived for two weeks in
an apartment just miles from Elizabeth's home and blocks from the
Pictures have surfaced of all three at a neighborhood rave party in
September and a local man videotaped them sitting at a picnic bench
at the city's Liberty Park.