“You may think you know my story, but you don’t.”
Those are the final words of the trailer for Lifetime’s TV Movie “I Am Elizabeth Smart” which airs later this month.
Elizabeth Smart was abducted from her bedroom in Salt Lake City, Utah in June 2002, when she was just 14-years-old.
Her younger sister, nine-year-old Mary Katherine Smart pretended to sleep as she watched the intruder leave the room with a knife to her sister.
The onetime homeless preacher and self-avowed prophet, lead the young girl in her pajamas from her bed, deep into the woods and chained her to a makeshift mountain campsite a few miles from her home.
It was here, he kept her captive for the next nine months, with the help of his wife Wanda Eileen Barzee.
The man who took Elizabeth was someone who did odd jobs around the house for the Smart family. He had given them a fake name and story to conceal his identity. To the Smarts, he was Emmanuel, but to his family and his wife, he was Brian David Mitchell.
Over the months, Elizabeth faced repeated rapes and abuse. She was told that if she tried to escape, her family would be killed.
It was her young sister that gave authorities the help they needed to find the teenager. Several months into the search, Mary Katherine was able to recognize the voice of the kidnapper and identify it as ‘Emmanuel’. The Smart family went to police with the new information, but they chose not to follow the lead.
The family did not give up though, they hired a private sketch artist and the photo of Mitchell was sent to America’s Most Wanted.
That’s when someone came forward with Mitchell’s real name.
With the help of Mary Katherine’s clue, a biker saw Mitchell with two people- one of which was Elizabeth, the other was Barzee.
In March 2003, police surrounded Mitchell and managed to guide Elizabeth away from her captors. At first, her fear prevented her from answering their questions. But they kept asking her the same thing: “What’s your name?”
Once she was away from Mitchell, her fear dissipated, and she was able to find her voice again.
“I am Elizabeth,” she said.
That’s when she was able to start putting her life back together.