Elizabeth Smart Kidnapper Granted Prison Release in Surprise Decision

Wanda Barzee, who also tried to abduct Smart's cousin, will be released next Wednesday.

elizabeth smart
Elizabeth Smart appears on NBC News' "Today" show. (Peter Kramer/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)
NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

The woman convicted of helping kidnap Elizabeth Smart will be released from prison next Wednesday in a surprise reversal of an earlier ruling. According to NBC News, Wanda Barzee, 72, will be released from Utah State Prison on Sept. 19.

Barzee was originally sentenced in 2010 to 15 years in federal prison for assisting in the 2002 abduction of Smart. She was released from federal prison in 2016, and was then sentenced to another 1-15 years in state prison on a felony charge for the attempted abduction of Smart’s cousin, an incident which occurred about one month after Smart was kidnapped.

But then in June of this year, Barzee’s attorney argued that the time his client spent in federal prison should go torwards her state sentence. That request was denied in July, and set the end of Barzee’s sentence for January 2024. But on Tuesday, the board reserved their decision and said Barzee would be released next week.

In a statement, Smart said that she was “surprised and disappointed” to hear the news. “I appreciate the support, love and concern that has already been expressed and will work diligently to address the issue of Barzee’s release as well as to ensure changes are made moving forward to ensure this doesn’t happen to anyone else in the future,” Smart continued, according to NBC News. 

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