Perhaps the closest missed chance came when a homicide detective spotted, but failed to rescue, Smart, who was taken from her Salt Lake City home at knifepoint a decade ago when she was 14.
Smart’s captors, Brian David Mitchell and his wife Wanda Barzee, would often put her in bizarre disguises and take her around Salt Lake City, where she was too terrified to scream or run for help.
Once at a public library, a man even came over and introduced himself as a homicide detective, according to The New Yorker story. Police had received concerned calls from people who were worried that she might be a kidnapping victim, he told them. The cop asked Mitchell and Barzee to take off Smart’s veil.
Smart was “dizzy with hope and anticipation and gut-wrenching fear,” she writes in her new memoir. Barzee put tightened her hand on Smart’s leg. As Margaret Talbot writes in The New Yorker, “The fear won out.”
She stayed quiet as Mitchell explained that his religion forbade him from revealing his “daughter’s” face to a strange man. “Officer, if she were the person you were looking for, why would she just sit there?” Mitchell said, according to Smart’s account. The detective left, and Smart felt lower than ever. She says her fear made her compliant.
Smart was finally rescued after nine months, after a smart cop separated her from Mitchell and his Barzee before asking if she’d been kidnapped. “She’s too scared to even answer,” she recalled the officer saying. “You’ve got to get her by herself.”
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