Former kidnap victim Elizabeth Smart engaged to marry

Reuters News
Posted: Jan 20, 2012 6:54 PM
Former kidnap victim Elizabeth Smart engaged to marry

By James Nelson

SALT LAKE CITY (Reuters) - Elizabeth Smart, who was kidnapped at age 14 from her Salt Lake City home and held for nine months in a case that gripped the nation, is engaged to be married with a wedding anticipated for the early summer, a family spokesman said on Friday.

Smart, now a 24-year-old missing child advocate and sometimes TV news commentator, has not publicly identified her fiance, spokesman Chris Thomas said.

"Elizabeth got engaged this past weekend," Thomas said in a written statement. "A date for the wedding has not been set but the couple anticipates early summer."

"While she plans to be very publicly involved with her child advocacy work, she has decided she wants to keep the details of her personal life private," Thomas added.

Smart was abducted at knifepoint from her bedroom in June 2002 by a homeless street preacher, Brian David Mitchell, and was repeatedly raped and forced to wander with her captor from town to town for nine months.

She was ultimately freed after being spotted by passers-by in a Salt Lake City suburb in 2003. Her kidnapping shocked Americans, and the exhaustive search for the missing teen was covered exhaustively in the U.S. media.

Mitchell was convicted in 2010 of kidnapping and unlawful transportation of a minor across state lines to engage in sexual activity. He was sentenced in May to life in prison.

Smart testified during Mitchell's trial, describing her time as his captive as "nine months of hell."

Mitchell's wife, Wanda Barzee, was sentenced to a 15-year prison term in 2010 after pleading guilty to conspiracy and cooperating with prosecutors in the case against Mitchell.

ABC News in July announced that it had hired Smart, who has shown composure since her release from captivity, as a contributor on stories about missing persons.

(Writing by Alex Dobuzinskis)