Father: Smart Cousin Target of Break-In

Associated Press/April 4, 2003

Salt Lake City -- An alleged kidnapping plot by Elizabeth Smart ' s abductors was aimed at a 15-year-old cousin, rather than an older cousin, the girls ' father said Thursday.

It's been widely reported that David Brian Mitchell was allegedly trying to abduct 18-year-old Jessica Wright during a break-in at the family ' s home July 24.

But father Steven Wright said he has known since the night of the break-in that the likely target was his younger daughter, a favorite playmate of Elizabeth who is the same age, 15.

Jessica Wright and her younger sister shared a bedroom before Elizabeth disappeared, Steven Wright said. The Wrights later remodeled their home, and the younger girl moved to another room.

During the break-in, a screen covering Jessica 's bedroom window was cut. Mitchell has been charged with attempted kidnapping in connection with the break-in.

Salt Lake County District Attorney David Yocum blamed the media for any confusion about the potential abductee.

"We have alleged there was a minor child between 14 and 18, ' ' Yocom said. "Because the press got it wrong doesn 't mean that we have to go out and correct it. ' '

Yocom has said it appeared Mitchell tried to kidnap Wright 's daughter to be his plural wife. Elizabeth led Mitchell and his wife and alleged co-kidnapper Wanda Barzee to the Wright home, Yocom said.

On the night of the break-in, Steven Wright said that Jessica Wright awoke because a thin object sticking through her window blinds had knocked over a picture on the desk in front of the window. The father met his daughter in the hall as she ran from the bedroom.

Steven Wright spent the rest of the night talking to FBI agents, Salt Lake county sheriff 's deputies and Salt Lake City police officers. He said they accused him of staging the break-in.

"It was hell with the breaking in. It was hell with the cops accusing me. It was hell trying to find out who did this, ' ' Steven Wright said.

Salt Lake City Police Chief Rick Dinse would not confirm or deny any aspect of Wright' s account. FBI spokesman George Dougherty also would not comment on the FBI' s investigation into the Wright burglary, but he said agents behaved as they would have for a routine investigation.

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