Case proves you should never give up hope

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 13, 2003

After nine long months, probably the longest months the Smart family has experienced, they have their little girl back home.

I know they are so relieved to have her home, safe, with them. In mid-June of last year, Elizabeth Smart was kidnapped from her house, from her own bedroom, and taken not to be heard from for nine months. Even though for at least part of the time she was only a few minutes away from her home, she never tried to escape as far as I know.

Her sister, who was only 9-years-old, was the only witness to the kidnapping and she was basically the one who broke the case by telling them that she thought the handyman that had worked there might be the one who took Elizabeth.

Maybe these people, Brian Mitchell and Wanda Barzee, who are apparently religious zealots, had her drugged or brainwashed or something. I have read on news websites that the couple's daughter said she thought they may have been trying to get back something they had lost her at age 15. The now 27-year-old said that Elizabeth resembles her at age 15.

Elizabeth's mother, Lois Smart, said in February that she met Mitchell in downtown Salt Lake City when he asked her for money. She gave him $5 and hired him to help her husband repair their home's roof in November 2001. He worked at the home for about five hours. Seven months later, Elizabeth disappeared.

Police originally thought another handyman who had worked for the Smarts was responsible for her disappearance. He died while in prison on a parole violation.

I am so happy for this family and the girl. There are so many stories out there of children getting kidnapped that are either never found or never found alive. It is a blessing that this story has ended in such a good way. It just goes to show you that you can't give up until you finally know what has really happened.

I'm sure this family has used this experience to grow closer together. With everything that is going on that is bad in the world, what a joy it is to have a happy ending like this to a story that could have ended so differently, so easily.

I hope these people didn't abuse or hurt this girl. I know she will be traumatized by the ordeal but maybe nothing worse than being taken from her parents was done to her.