SALT LAKE CITY — Seven years after she was abducted at knifepoint, Elizabeth Smart finally has an apology — and a guilty plea — from one of her kidnappers.
“I am so sorry, Elizabeth, for all the pain and suffering I have caused you and your family,” Wanda Eileen Barzee, 64, said Tuesday. “It is my hope that you will be able to find it in your heart to forgive me.”
The appeal came minutes after Barzee pleaded guilty to federal charges of kidnapping and unlawful transportation of a minor in U.S. District Court.
She also said she was “humbled as I realize how much Elizabeth Smart has been victimized and the role that I played in it.”
Smart, now 22 and preparing to serve a mission in Paris for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was not in court to hear the apology. But her father, Ed Smart, said outside court that forgiveness was possible.
“Absolutely,” he said. “We all make mistakes in life … and if we can’t forgive each other, heaven help us.”
During the hearing, he said he hoped Barzee realized what she did was “absolutely wrong and absolutely horrible.”
Smart was 14 when she was taken from the bedroom of her Salt Lake City home, sparking a search that riveted America. Nine months later, in March 2003, Barzee and her now-estranged husband Brian David Mitchell were arrested after they were spotted walking on a suburban street with Smart.
Elizabeth Smart has said that within hours of the abduction, Mitchell took her as a polygamous wife and raped her.