Smart Cousin May Have Also Been Kidnap Target 15, 2003
By John Riley

Salt Lake City -- Already lording over Elizabeth Smart in a mountain encampment, homeless polygamy believer Brian David Mitchell may have tried to kidnap her cousin by breaking into her bedroom just seven weeks after abducting Smart, law enforcement officials here said Friday.

Salt Lake County Sheriff Aaron Kennard said the break-in at the house of 18-year-old Jessica Wright on July 24 was initially classified as an unsolved attempted burglary, but Mitchell may now be charged with attempted kidnapping in light of information received since Smart was rescued and questioned this week.

He would not comment on reports that Mitchell -- who espoused polygamist beliefs in a manifesto obtained by police -- took Smart as the first "wife" in a plan to get seven wives and was seeking Wright for the same purpose, but said that was one of the motives police were considering.

"That's a possibility," Kennard said. "We have not discounted anything in that regard." Police reports indicated that the attempt at the Wright house bore striking similarities to Smart's abduction. The perpetrator used a knife to cut through a screen in Wright's bedroom, the same technique used at Smart's house, but Wright and her family were awakened when some pictures fell off her desk.

Family members have described Wright as Smart's favorite cousin, with a similar appearance. "It's more than a coincidence," Kennard said. "You have this cousin who looks like Elizabeth and is good friends with Elizabeth."

Kennard would not say whether Smart provided information to the police about the attempt, but didn't discourage the idea. "You can pretty well draw your own conclusions because we now have evidence that we didn't have," he said.

Mitchell -- who used the name "Immanuel" and wore a long white robe as he wandered the streets here panhandling and preaching -- and his wife Wanda Barzee have been held on aggravated kidnapping charges since they were found with Smart on Wednesday.

Police and Smart's family have said the pair kept Elizabeth in a Wasatch Mountain encampment for more than two months after her June 5 kidnapping, later spent time in Salt Lake City, traveled to San Diego in October and returned here on Wednesday. Smart was forced to wear a wig, scarf and veil during their travels, making her unrecognizable to many who saw the trio.

Barzee told a friend who spoke with her in jail yesterday morning that Smart was kidnapped because of a revelation she and Mitchell received on Thanksgiving Day 2001 telling them to take seven wives, according to a story in Friday afternoon's Deseret News here.

The friend, Vicki Cottrell, is head of the Utah chapter of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill. She could not be reached for comment. But she told the newspaper that in a 30-minute jailhouse meeting, Barzee said that she had taken care of Smart. "I love her very, very much," Barzee told Cottrell. "I would never let anything bad happen to her."

Adding to questions about why Smart didn't flee, Barzee also told Cottrell that on at least one occasion, when Mitchell disappeared for five days after being arrested for a break-in at a church outside San Diego, she left Smart alone for a time. "She knew not to wander off," Barzee told Cottrell.

Also Friday, Salt Lake City police confirmed that they arrested Mitchell last September on a shoplifting charge involving $52 of camping-related supplies. He gave his pseudonym, spelling it "Immanuel" before providing his real name. He was released and did not show up for a subsequent court appearance. The next month, when Smart's younger sister identified a man named "Emmanuel" who had worked on the family house as the possible kidnapper, the shoplifting arrest -- with Emmanuel's real name -- did not surface.

Mitchell's 27-page manifesto, titled "The Book of Immanuel David Isaiah," lays out his beliefs in polygamy, according to excerpts that emerged Friday in which he portrays himself as a messenger of God and laments the banning of the practice from the early Mormon church. Mitchell, according to local news reports, had been excommunicated from the Mormon church.

"In consequence of their continued disobedience, I, the Lord god took away from my church the fulness of the new and everlasting covenant of marriage, and I commanded them to have one wife only," Mitchell wrote in his manifesto. "Wherefore, they received a lesser law and a lesser blessing. Nevertheless, I, the Lord God am merciful and just and I know the hearts of my children, and I restore every blessing lost to them so long as they sin not against the Holy Ghost. ... "

The manifesto was created by Mitchell on a computer in February and March of last year, just a few months before the kidnapping, according to an Associated Press report.

In another passage, he wrote, "Thou wilt take into thy heart and home seven sisters, and thou wilt recognize them through the spirit as thy dearest and choicest friends from all eternity."

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