Elizabeth Smart research paper

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The goal of this research paper is to identify the circumstances that led to Elizabeth Smart becoming a victim as well as the measures that can be taken to ensure that the incident doesn't occur again. The article's introduction gives a summary of the case. It talks about the victim's earlier life and circumstances before the event. Additionally, a timeline of the event, the victim's risks—including her way of life and environmental contexts—are presented. The article examines the victim-offender relationships, the incident details, the offender's historical background, risks, MO, and prevention methods that can help to lower such incidents. The paper highlight the following recommendation, the child, should always try finding ways to escape after the attack, and children should not be left alone, some defending techniques can be taught to assist the children in case of an assault. The study concludes that the abduction is a serious offense that can affect an individual causing a lot of harm. However, the victim should be encouraged to be contented and live life fully as well as follow their dreams. The victim should not take time thinking about the incident because it will prevent them from attaining their goals. Future research can be conducted to determine some of the ways the government can prevent such attacks in the community. Some of the factors that trigger such incidents can be committed to helping in deterring the violence in the community. Finally, investigations should be conducted to determine how the offenders are assisted in avoiding reoffending or reoccurrence of the conduct.

Case overview

Elizabeth Smart was abducted in 2002 in Salt Lake City, Utah, and was rescued by police after nine months in 2003 in Sandy, Utah 18 miles away from her home. Brian Mitchell who made her his wife and raped her repeatedly held after the abduction. Someone noticed Mitchell photograph, which was, aired public and these gave the police a clue she was the rescued and taken back to her parents. Mitchell’s wife treated her as a slave, and they denied her food and water (Foy, 2013). Smart says Mitchell believed that he owned everything in the world and he had the right to take anything he wanted. He was described as a manipulative, antisocial, and narcissistic pedophile. After the rescue, Mitchell managed to stay out of prison for six years because of the courts though he had a mental problem. However, he was convicted 2011 after the prosecutor discovered he was faking his mental illness. He was then sent to twelve years imprisonment. After one year, Barzee was sent taken to prison for being his accomplice and her role in smart sexual assault as well as kidnapping (Romboy, 2011).

Victim’s lifestyle

Elizabeth comes from a family of four brothers and a sister. She went to Bryant Middle School and Brigham Young University respectively, where she studied music and harp presentation. She went the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Her father Edward was a highly successful real estate developer, and he mother Lois was a homemaker. Elizabeth was a caring, insolent, shy, and respectful child. She loved playing the harp since she was five years old. While in middle school, she had started playing the harp in wedding ceremonies. When she reached high school, she started running cross-country races and became skilled in horse riding. Finally, she also attended Bryant Intermediate School where she was described as an intelligent and diligent student (Smart and Benson, 2005).

Offender’s risks

Brian Mitchell was an itinerant preacher who had proclaimed that he had taken the girl as one of his polygamous wives. Together with his wife, they were accused of terrifying the girl and for trying to kidnap Smart’s cousin from their home (Smart and Benson, 2005). Mitchell is 62 years and serving a life sentence in Arizona. He was convicted after six years in criminal psychiatric custody. Mitchell was born and raised in Salt Lake City, Utah, and was the third child from a family of six children. He was raised in an authoritarian home of regular Mormons. His paternal grandfather had mental illness and was hospitalized for a long time. His close family members were described by neighbors as friendly but were a bit odd compared to different personalities living in the same community. His mother appeared healthy, but his father claimed he had a voice calling him Christ when he was seven years old. Letter in their life their parents got divorced, and Mitchel wrote a book titled representative for the Infant God or Goddess (Romboy, 2011).

Michael was arrested when he was sixteen for exposing himself to an eight-year-old girl. His second wife left because he had molested two of their children but was not charged. His stepdaughter reported that Michael repeatedly raped her and influenced her into staying silent. Scientific psychoanalyst Michael Welner testified Mitchell had a record of pedophilia and he attacked other young girls before kidnapping Elizabeth Smart (Romboy, 2011). His divorce was finalized in 1985, and Michael married Wanda Barzee on the same day. Michael believed he was an ordained angel the Davidic "servant" primed made by Supernatural being as a sort of Savior who was meant to restore the exquisitely controlled monarchy of Israel to the domain in readiness for Christ's second arrival. He had many revelations that he opted to keep silent because he did not want a lot of church discrimination and excommunication from the LDS Church (Romboy, 2011).

Daniel Petersen who was a scholar of religion noted that Mitchell's exposures were rational, deteriorating within the customs of separate Mormon alliances. The name Mitchell/Immanuel proposed the Church of Jesus Christ, the Consecrated, and the Last Days. Petersen felt that Mitchell would one-day battle the Anti-Christ. Mitchell started wearing robes begging for money, which he described as ministering to unbelievers (Romboy, 2011). He then approached women to become his and Barzee's polygamous wives but was not successful. His first search was a single mother and the second one was Julia Atkinson who was approximately twenty-one year old and a member of the Kingston polygamist clan. After the unsuccessful attempts, Mitchell received another revelation where he was commanded to powerfully take Mormon young girls between the ages of ten and fourteen years to become his bigamous wives. Another revelation supplemented the first announcement where he was ordered to take a fourteen -year-old girl and make her his first polygamous wife of which he had to have fifty women (Romboy, 2011).

Mitchell managed to kidnap Elizabeth at a knife pint the night of June 5, 2002. Elizabeth Smart later gave the testimony how she was tied and raped three to four times in a day. The letter he tried to capture Olivia Wright who was a cousin to Elizabeth Smart (Smart and Benson, 2005). He was charged in Utah with dangerous robbery and plot to designate kidnapping accusations. Later he attempted to abduct a 12-year-old girl near San Diego, California but was not successful. After these unsuccessful attempts, he claimed he received a revelation from God telling him that they were not ready for more wives (Smart and Benson, 2005).

Mitchell’s revelations made him incompetent or insane were some of the factors that surrounded his trial. He told the courts that he received revelations from God and was acting according to this commands. These made him appear stupid before the lawyers. Hover, Elizabeth, and Wanda Barzee testified that he used these revelations to manipulate people and for his personal gratifications (Romboy, 2011). The Utah Third District Court Judge declared Mitchell incompetent in 2005 and retained him until he became capable of facing trial. The report presented by Dr. Jennifer Skeem assisted the court with the information used in the ruling. In 2008, Brett Tolman started the court hiring sessions to show that Mitchell was competent enough to stand trial. He used expert witness from New York forensic psychiatrist Michael Welner together with several lay witnesses including staffers and Elizabeth (Smart and Benson, 2006).

Richart DeMier, Stephen Golding, and Jennifer Skeem are some of the mental health professionals who found Mitchell incompetent to face trials. Michael Welner who was a psychiatrist from New York City noted that Mitchell was competent enough to face trial after discovering that he was suffering from a range of disorders including pedophilia, anti-social and narcissistic personality disorders (Foy, 2013). However, he was not psychotic or delusional. Mitchell concluded that Michael could control situations and was used to operating in a corresponding domain of suppression and complication just as the separate polygamist collections from the contemporary LDS church practices. He also compared Michael to Catholic priests who justify distorting their relationships with God because of their sexual behaviors. In the third competency trial, Mitchell was found capable of facing trial in 2010(Romboy, 2011).

The federal kidnapping trial started in 2010, and the panel deliberated five hours, which was a short time given for the presentation of evidence in the case. The board disallowed the insanity appeal and reimbursed guilty decisions in 2010. Robert Steele filed a motion in 2011 to have Mitchell placed in a mental institution and not a prison, but the motion failed. Mitchell was then transported to Federal Prison in 2011 for his crimes, and he is still in jail up to date (Haberman and MacIntosh, 2003).

How to prevent abduction

Elizabeth was attacked at knifepoint and was taken ten minutes away from the home throughout the nine months. In case this happen to a child he or should walk home. The child should avoid fearing the offender and in case of an opening, he or she can try running away from the criminals(Lewis and Mende, 2003).

Research shows that these cases are usually well planned and the perpetrators often take advantage of the victim’s weak points. Therefore, it is important for people to identify their weak spots and take steps of becoming a victim of kidnapping cases. Men who need help should not be asking the children for any assistance. The children should be encouraged to get ways from people who wants to take the away. The children should avoid to going to places not accompanied by adults, and they should never be allowed to take rides not unless the parents are aware of the people participating in the trips. Children should not be asked to keep secrets, and they should be ready to inform their parents to teachers of anyone who wants to take their pictures or wants them to keep a secret (Lewis and Mende, 2003).

The children should be informed that no one should touch them especially in areas that are not covered by clothes. They should be told that their bodies are unique and not one is allowed to touch them. Moreover, the children should learn to be assertive and be in a position to say no in the case of any attempt of kidnapping or seduction. These children can also practice a first yell that will indicate a sign of abduction and in turn get assistance from people around them(Lewis and Mende, 2003).

Children must be told not to be afraid to communicate to an adult or a trusted teacher in case they encounter any form of threat to the environment. Moreover, children should be made alert and taught on some of the things to do in the event of an abduction. Children can also be taught on the techniques they can use to avoid being taken. For instance, they can use the Velcro method by grabbing and holding onto something making it difficult for the person to move. The child can also yell as loud as possible to attract attentions. Windmill technique or swimming technique the child can also use Windmill technique or swimming technique by rotating the arms of the criminal to prevent the attacker from getting a good grip. The child can also make a lot of noise to distract the attention of the attacker(Lewis and Mende, 2003).

In case the attacker uses a car the child should get the door and move out quickly, and they should avoid being passive and try jumping into the back seat and open the doors. In case the child is put into a tank, the child should look for an opening and try getting out. Above all, the child should avoid packing and find ways of running away from the attacker(Lewis and Mende, 2003).

Parents should avoid using toys or clothes with the child’s name on it because a baby is less likely to fear somebody who knows them by names. All potential babysitters should be checked as well as all the friends of the child. The child should never be left alone there must be a babysitter with the child all the time. Moreover, the child should be accompanied in all the places the child needs to visit including the birth rooms. Child preventions programs should be implemented in the country to educate children on kidnapping and some of the ways they can use to get away from the criminals as well as avoid the attack in the community (Lewis and Mende, 2003).

Finally, what happened to Elizabeth was extremely terrible and cannot be explained in words. However, in case such a thing happens to an individual it is important not to spend too much time thinking of the problem but one should focus on the future and live happily. One should focus on their dreams and do what they want to do. Focusing on the case will only cause more damage to the individual. It is always good to make and choice and make a huge difference in the community because people are defined by their choices and decisions that make in life.


Foy, P. (2013). Elizabeth Smart details experience in Memoir.


Haberman, M., MacIntosh, J. (2003). Held Captive: The Kidnapping and Rescue of Elizabeth

Smart. Avon.

Lewis, D., Mende N. (2003). Slave: My True Story. New York: PublicAffairs.

Romboy, Dennis (2011). Mitchell sentenced to life behind bars for kidnapping Elizabeth Smart.


Smart, T; Benson, Lee (2005). In Plain Sight: The Startling Truth Behind the Elizabeth Smart

Investigation. Chicago Review Press

July 15, 2023

Education Crime



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