Draper, UT – The woman who aided in the abduction of Elizabeth Smart in 2002 has been released from prison.
Smart, then a 14-year-old girl, was held captive and raped on a daily basis for nine months before she escaped.
Her captor and his henchwoman were arrested, convicted, and sent to prison.
At a press conference on Sep. 13, the 30-year-old Smart called the unanticipated release of 72-year-old Wanda Barzee “a big shock.”
“Only months ago, I was on my way to a parole hearing when I was told she would never be let out until 2024… so yes, it was a big shock,” she said.
Barzee and her husband, 64-year-old Brian David Mitchell, kidnapped Smart from her family’s Salt Lake City home when she was 14 years old, US Weekly reported.
She was held captive as a sex slave for the nine horrific months that followed.
Barzee confessed to her role in the kidnapping after she was arrested in 2003, and ultimately pleaded guilty in federal court in 2009, People reported.
She also agreed to testify against Mitchell, who was convicted in December of 2010 and sentenced to two life terms.
Barzee was sentenced to 15 years in prison, and was also ordered to serve a subsequent sentence for attempting to kidnap Smart’s cousin, People reported.
Smart, who is now married with two children and a third on the way, said that Barzee had viewed her as a personal slave.
“She called me her ‘handmaiden’ and she never hesitated to let her displeasure with me be known,” Smart explained during the press conference.
“She is a woman who had six children, and yet could co-conspire to kidnap a 14-year-old girl, and not only sit next to her while [I was] being raped, but encouraged her husband to continue raping me,” Smart said during the press conference.
“That first morning when he brought me into the camp and told me I was now his wife and kept telling me it was time to consummate our marriage, I just… at first, I didn't know what he meant,” Smart said during a CBS interview on Tuesday. “I was raped. And, I was raped every day after that, multiple times a day… she would encourage him… the side of her body would be touching me.”
Ahead of Barzee’s release, Smart begged prison officials to reconsider their decision.
“I ask those that have the power, and her family to start proceedings to have her be civilly committed,” Smart wrote in an Instagram post, along with a photo of herself as a child. “To my knowledge she has neither complied with medication or treatment… there are no viable legal options open to me at this time.”
Barzee walked out of the Utah State Prison at approximately 7:45 a.m. on Wednesday, US Weekly reported.
According to an unnamed hotel guest, she allegedly spent Wednesday night “wailing religious scripture at the top of her lungs” in her hotel room, Inside Edition reported.
Barzee will serve the next five years on federal probation.
“The past few weeks have been an absolute roller coaster and I so appreciate everyone’s comments of love and support and outrage,” Smart said during a speech at Lock Haven University on the day Barzee walked out of prison, according to People.
“My past has no bearing on my happiness now, no bearing on the choices I make now,” she continued. “I’ve spent the last 15 years trying to move on with my life – trying to live it in the way that I know how to best – and I’m going to continue doing that.”
“I’m not gonna let these people or this woman stop me from living the life that I want to live, and that’s how I still feel,” Smart said.