Elizabeth Smart

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For the Canadian poet and novelist, see Elizabeth Smart (Canadian author).
Elizabeth Smart
Elizabeth Smart Speaks About Overcoming Trauma.jpg
Smart in 2012
Born Elizabeth Ann Smart
(1987-11-03) November 3, 1987 (age 29)
Salt Lake City, Utah
Alma mater Brigham Young University (B.M.)
Spouse(s) Matthew Gilmour (m. 2012)
Children 1
Website elizabethsmart.com

Elizabeth Ann Smart-Gilmour[1] (born November 3, 1987) is an American child safety activist and contributor for ABC News. She first gained national attention at the age of 14 when she was abducted from her home in Salt Lake City and rescued nine months later. Smart is also a musician who has played harp on national television in the United States.[2]

Early life[edit]

Smart was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, to Edward (Ed) and Lois Smart. She has four brothers and a sister and is the second-oldest child in her family. She attended Bryant Middle School and Brigham Young University, studying music as a harp performance major.[3][4]

Abduction and rescue[edit]

On June 5, 2002, Smart was abducted at knifepoint from her bedroom in her family's Salt Lake City home. She was rescued by police officers nine months later on March 12, 2003, on a public street in Sandy, Utah, 18 miles from her home, following the help of an America's Most Wanted episode. She had been in the captivity of Brian David Mitchell and Wanda Ileen Barzee. Her abduction and rescue were widely reported and were the subject of a made-for-TV movie, titled The Elizabeth Smart Story, and non-fiction books.

On October 1, 2009, Smart testified that she was raped three to four times daily, tied up and threatened with death if she attempted to escape.[5]

On November 16, 2009, Barzee agreed to plead guilty to assisting in the kidnapping of Elizabeth Smart, as part of a plea bargain with prosecutors.[6] On May 19, 2010, Barzee was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison. As part of a plea deal between the defense and federal prosecutors, federal Judge Dale A. Kimball gave Barzee credit for seven years that she had already served.

On March 1, 2010, Mitchell was found competent by Judge Kimball to stand trial in federal court for the kidnapping and sexual assault charges; his trial began on November 8, 2010, and a month later the jury found Mitchell guilty on both counts. On May 25, 2011, Mitchell was sentenced to two life-terms in federal prison.[7]

Activism and journalism[edit]

Elizabeth Smart (center) and her mother Lois with President George W. Bush in the Roosevelt Room at the signing of the PROTECT Act of 2003

On March 8, 2006, Smart went before Congress to support sexual predator legislation and the AMBER Alert system, and on July 26, 2006, she spoke after the signing of the Adam Walsh Act. In May 2008, she traveled to Washington, D.C., where she helped present a book, You're Not Alone, published by the U.S. Department of Justice, which has entries written by her as well as four other recovered young adults.[8][9][10] In 2009, Smart commented on the kidnapping of Jaycee Lee Dugard, stressing that dwelling upon the past is unproductive.[11] On October 27, 2009 Elizabeth spoke at the 2009 Women's Conference in California hosted by Maria Shriver, on overcoming obstacles in life.[12]

In 2011, Smart founded the Elizabeth Smart Foundation,[13] which aims to support the Internet Crimes Against Children task force and to educate children about violent and sexual crime. The Foundation is in the process of merging with Operation Underground Railroad to combine efforts in the fight against human trafficking.[14][15]

In March 2011, Smart was one of four women awarded the Diane von Furstenberg Award.[16]

On July 7, 2011, it was announced that she would be a commentator for ABC News, mainly focusing on missing persons.[17][18]

In July 2012, Smart was honored by Theta Phi Alpha National Fraternity with the Siena Medal award. The medal is the highest honor the organization bestows upon a non-member and is named after their patroness, St. Catherine of Siena.

On May 1, 2013, in a speech at a human trafficking conference at Johns Hopkins University, Smart discussed the need to emphasize individual self-worth in fighting human trafficking, and the importance of dispelling cultural myths surrounding girls' loss of value upon sexual contact. After being raped by her captor, she recalled the destructive impact of exposure to sexual education programs where a sexually active girl is compared to a chewed piece of gum. "I thought, 'Oh, my gosh, I'm that chewed up piece of gum, nobody re-chews a piece of gum, you throw it away.' And that's how easy it is to feel like you no longer have worth, you no longer have value," Smart said. "Why would it even be worth screaming out? Why would it even make a difference if you are rescued? Your life still has no value." Smart went on to ask that listeners educate children on having self-worth, and how to avoid becoming a victim.[19][20]

In February 2014, Smart testified before the Utah State House of Representatives in favor of HB 286, a bill that would create an optional curriculum for use in Utah schools to provide training on child sexual abuse prevention.[21]

In early 2015, Smart was featured in a video produced by Faith Counts where she explained how her religious belief sustained her through her ordeal and helped her heal.[22]

Adult life[edit]

On November 11, 2009, Smart left Salt Lake City to serve a Mormon mission in Paris.[23][24] Smart returned temporarily from her mission in November 2010 to serve as the chief witness in the federal trial of Brian David Mitchell. After the end of the trial, she returned to France to finish her mission, coming home to Utah in the spring of 2011.[25]

In January 2012, Smart became engaged to Matthew Gilmour (a native of Scotland) after a courtship of one year. The couple met while serving as missionaries in the Paris Mission and had planned to marry in the summer of 2012 but moved up the date because of media privacy concerns.[26][27][28] They married on February 18, 2012, in a private ceremony in the Laie Hawaii Temple.[29][30]

In February 2015, she gave birth to a daughter.[31]


In October 2013, My Story, a memoir of Smart's experience written with Chris Stewart was published by St. Martin's Press.[32] The book details both Smart's kidnapping and the formation of the Elizabeth Smart Foundation which works to promote awareness about abduction.[33][34]

Smart's uncle, Tom Smart, and author Lee Benson wrote a book about the search for Smart, In Plain Sight: The Startling Truth Behind the Elizabeth Smart Investigation. Another book about Smart's kidnapping was written by her father, called Bringing Elizabeth Home. A television movie, The Elizabeth Smart Story, was made in 2003, based on the book of Smart's father.



  1. ^ Elizabeth Smart Marries At LDS Temple In Hawaii, KUTV, February 20, 2012, Elizabeth Smart is now Elizabeth Gilmour. 
  2. ^ http://www.nbcnews.com/video/nbc-news/53191726/#53191726
  3. ^ Talbot, Margaret (21 October 2013). "Gone Girl". newyorker.com. New Yorker. 
  4. ^ Hanson, Kurt (5 November 2012). "Elizabeth Smart honored for 'Legacy of Hope'". universe.byu.edu. 
  5. ^ "Elizabeth Smart says she was raped daily". The Daily Herald. 2009. Retrieved October 7, 2009. 
  6. ^ "Barzee expected to enter guilty plea in Smart case". The Daily Herald. 2009. Retrieved November 16, 2009. 
  7. ^ "Elizabeth Smart Tells Kidnapper She'll Live a Good Life Moments Before He Gets a Life Sentence". FoxNews.com. May 25, 2011. Retrieved May 26, 2011. 
  8. ^ Child Abduction: Resources for Victims and Families from Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention
  9. ^ "Elizabeth Smart hopes to aid victims". CNN. Retrieved May 20, 2008. 
  10. ^ Reavy, Pat (May 20, 2008). "Elizabeth Smart: Ready for college and moving on after kidnapping". Deseret News. Retrieved May 20, 2008. 
  11. ^ Elizabeth Smart's Advice to Jaycee Dugard: Move Forward in Life August 28, 2009
  12. ^ "The Women's Conference hosted by California's First Lady". Retrieved March 14, 2010. 
  13. ^ "Elizabeth Smart Fast Facts". CNN. Retrieved May 6, 2013. 
  14. ^ NAIR, Vinita (November 22, 2014). "Former kidnap victim Elizabeth Smart fights to stop human trafficking". CBS News. Retrieved January 5, 2015. 
  15. ^ "Fundraisers in Review". Retrieved January 5, 2015. 
  16. ^ Moss, Hilary (March 12, 2011). "Hillary Clinton, Elizabeth Smart Honored By Diane Von Furstenberg". Huffington Post. Retrieved March 14, 2011. 
  17. ^ Dobner, Jennifer, "Elizabeth Smart to work as ABC commentator", AP.org, July 7, 2011
  18. ^ Lois M. Collins. "Elizabeth Smart to join ABC for missing-persons insight" in Deseret News July 7, 2011
  19. ^ "Video: Elizabeth Smart speaks at Johns Hopkins University". Retrieved May 9, 2013. 
  20. ^ "Jay Evenson, ''Deseret News'' article analysising what Smart said". Perspectivesonthenews.blogs.deseretnews.com. May 7, 2013. Retrieved October 9, 2013. 
  21. ^ Brown, Madeleine (February 19, 2014), "Elizabeth Smart backs bill on child sexual abuse prevention training in schools", Deseret News 
  22. ^ Mormon Newsroom article on Faith Counts video featuring Smart
  23. ^ Reavy, Pat (September 17, 2009). "Elizabeth Smart could testify before leaving for LDS mission". Deseret News. Retrieved September 18, 2009. 
  24. ^ McEntee, Peg (November 19, 2009). "For Dorotha Smart, it is time to move on". The Salt Lake Tribune. Retrieved December 9, 2009. 
  25. ^ Pat Reavy (May 19, 2011). "''Deseret News'', May 18, 2011". Deseretnews.com. Retrieved October 9, 2013. 
  26. ^ "Former Utah kidnapping victim Elizabeth Smart gets engaged". MSNBC. January 20, 2012. Retrieved January 20, 2012. 
  27. ^ "Elizabeth Smart Gets Married". People. February 18, 2012. Retrieved February 18, 2012. 
  28. ^ "Elizabeth Smart marries boyfriend in private, spur of the moment Hawaiian ceremony". NewsCore. February 19, 2012. Retrieved February 19, 2012. 
  29. ^ Lee, Jasen (February 18, 2012). "Elizabeth Smart marries in Hawaiian Mormon temple". Deseret News. Retrieved February 22, 2012. 
  30. ^ Nelson, James (February 19, 2012). "Former kidnap victim Elizabeth Smart marries in Hawaii". Reuters. Retrieved February 19, 2012. 
  31. ^ Eaton, Nate (May 18, 2015). "ED SMART'S BIG SCREEN MISSION TO STOP CHILD SEX TRAFFICKING". Retrieved August 21, 2016. 
  32. ^ Kaufman, Leslie (November 20, 2012). "Elizabeth Smart Memoir of Her Captivity Is Acquired by St. Martin's". The New York Times. Retrieved August 9, 2016. 
  33. ^ The Associated Press (November 23, 2012). ""Congressman-elect writing Elizabeth Smart's memoir" in ''Deseret News'' Nov. 23, 2012". Deseretnews.com. Retrieved October 9, 2013. 
  34. ^ Foy, Paul (May 7, 2013). ""Elizabeth Smart details experience in Memoir", ''Deseret News'', October 7, 2013". Deseretnews.com. Retrieved October 9, 2013. 

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