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Trying for normal

Family takes a break as questions remain

Published: Sunday, March 16 2003 12:41 a.m. MST

Answer — Things will never be the same, and normal is a long way off, said child therapists and even Patty Hearst, the wealthy heiress who herself was a world-famous kidnapping victim who seemed to go through a personality change during her captivity in the 1970s. Although her parents are giving her ample time to readjust and have kept her out of the media glare, the adjustment Elizabeth has had to make through the ordeal is already adjusting the rest of her life, Hearst said on CNN's "Larry King Live" last week. The incident will never be forgotten, said Hearst, who was kidnapped by the radical Symbionese Liberation Army. Local child therapists said how well the Utah teen deals with that new fact of life depends on family and community support, good counseling and largely her own resolve.

QuestionWas polygamy the motivation for Elizabeth's kidnapping?

Answer — While in jail Friday, Mitchell's wife, Wanda Ilene Barzee, told a friend that the couple had received a revelation on Thanksgiving Day 2000 instructing them to take seven young women as polygamous wives. Elizabeth was the first selection, Barzee said. Also, according to a 27-page manifesto written several years ago but obtain by the Associated Press last week, Mitchell called upon his wife to take as many as 49 or "seven times, seven sisters to love and care for." The instruction to his wife appears to be the foundation of a religious sect he claims to have started in 1997.

QuestionWhere have Elizabeth and her alleged captors been for nine months?

Answer — For two months after the June 5 kidnapping, they are believed to have been in Dry Canyon — just above the Smart home in Salt Lake's foothills. Elizabeth has even told her family that she heard searchers, including an uncle, hunting for her. Subsequently they were seen in the city itself and stayed in an apartment with a young man who befriended them. By October, the trio is believed to have taken a bus to the San Diego area. On Feb. 12, Mitchell was arrested by the San Diego County Sheriff's Office after being accused of trying to break into a church in an apparent attempt to find a place to sleep. Mitchell was released after several days in jail.

The three apparently headed back to Utah by bus this past week. Three people questioned by police outside a Burger King in North Las Vegas are believed by authorities to have been Mitchell, Barzee and Elizabeth Smart, the Associated Press reported Saturday. North Las Vegas police said the trio gave their names as Peter Marshall, Juliet Marshall and Augustine Marshall. They were questioned Tuesday but not arrested.

By early Wednesday, they were in Utah. At 11:30 a.m., they boarded a UTA bus in Orem. At 1 p.m., they were seen by passers-by in Sandy, who notified police, and Elizabeth's identity was verified. (More extensive details of their wanderings can be found in Saturday's editions of the Deseret News.)

QuestionWill the couple alleged to have committed the kidnapping be found competent to stand trial?

Answer — Mental illness and competency are legally far from being the same, experts said. In fact, the presence of mental illness does not automatically preclude competency to stand trial, and as mental health providers noted, most people who have a mental illness are competent in daily life. (See related story beginning on A1.)

Experts familiar with Mitchell, 49, and Barzee, 57, have said each likely suffers from varying forms of mental illness, including delusions and possible schizophrenia. Barzee has reportedly been hospitalized for mental illness at least once, and Mitchell expressed no interest in getting treatment whenever he was approached by Salt Lake homeless advocates.

QuestionWhy did the Smart family hire Mitchell as a handyman?

Answer — Compassion. The family was reaching out to someone in need of work and money, Ed Smart said this past week. Although he was a homeless street preacher given to long and loud discourse, Mitchell was most often mild-mannered and was so the day in November 2001 he was invited to the household to fix a roofing problem.

QuestionWhat about the reward?

Answer — Four rewards totaling $308,000 were offered during the past nine months in the Elizabeth Smart case. How and when the rewards could be disbursed is undecided. The two couples most likely to receive them say they could use the money, but they'd rather everyone stay focused for now on the girl's safe return.

QuestionWas Elizabeth's cousin next on a kidnapper's list?

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