- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 18, 2003

SALT LAKE CITY, March 18 (UPI) — Two transients arrested for the alleged abduction of Utah teenager Elizabeth Smart were formally charged Tuesday with kidnapping, burglary and sexual assault.

Bryan David Mitchell, 49, and Wanda Barzee, 57, will be arraigned Wednesday on the six felony counts that could bring the one-time street prophet and his female companion a life sentence if convicted in the bizarre disappearance of Elizabeth, which ended happily last week with the girl's recovery.

The Salt Lake County district attorney's office said at a news conference that Mitchell allegedly broke into the Smart home in Salt Lake City on June 5 and forced Elizabeth, then 14, to hike four miles up a hillside trail in the dark of night to a hidden campsite where he and Barzee allegedly tried to sexually assault her.

District Attorney David Yocom said in the charging documents that Mitchell had threatened Elizabeth, indicating she was not a willing participant despite her apparent failure to try to escape during her nine-month ordeal.

"Elizabeth Smart stated that from the time she was confronted by Mitchell in her home and throughout her forced march to the camp, Mitchell threatened to harm her or kill her family if she did not comply with his directions," an affidavit from Salt Lake City Police Det. Mark Sharman said.

The affidavit further stated that until March 12, when police found the trio in Sandy, Utah, Mitchell and Barzee "held Elizabeth Smart against her will," and refused to allow her to contact her family or anyone else.

The charges were the first indication from authorities that a sexual assault had occurred. Elizabeth's family Monday denied a rumor that she was pregnant.

A defense attorney told reporters after visiting Mitchell in jail that the drifter who called himself "Emmanuel" believed he had been called upon by God to marry seven women, including Elizabeth. Mitchell presumably had fist seen the blond teenager in November 2001 when he worked for a day as a handyman at the Smart residence.

The pair was also charged with attempting to break into the home of one of Smart's young female cousins and kidnap her last July 24. The alleged attempt fizzled when the intended victim woke up and saw someone cutting through the bedroom window screen with a knife.

Investigators believe Mitchell had gained entry to the Smart home the previous month in a similar fashion.

(Reported by Hil Anderson in Los Angeles)

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