Despite the family's joy surrounding Elizabeth's return, at this point there are still more questions than answers in the case. Among them: Was the police focus on another handyman, Richard Albert Ricci, ill-founded; what did Elizabeth go through in the nine months she was missing; where was she during that time; and why didn't she flee?
Ed Smart said that he has not pressed his daughter to talk about what she went through, though she has talked to police about it and likely will be questioned again.
"I really haven't gone into it with her," he said. "I'm sure when the time comes, it will come out."
Responding to reports over whether Mitchell had taken Elizabeth to be his wife, police chief Dinse would only say, "His religious belief was in polygamy." Dinse did not want to
characterize Elizabeth's relationship with Mitchell further and said authorities continued to investigate.
Missed Opportunity in San Diego
Still, there may have been a missed opportunity to previously rescue Elizabeth. Officials at the San Diego Sheriff's Department told ABCNEWS they arrested Mitchell on Feb. 12 for vandalizing a church and that he was in custody for six days. He pleaded guilty to the charge and was released.
At the time, officials said, Mitchell was not using the Emmanuel alias and was using another name. They said they were unaware that he was wanted for questioning.
However, two days before Mitchell's arrest in San Diego the Smart family released sketches of "Emmanuel" and appealed for the public's help in finding him. They did not know the suspect's full name at the time but said Mary Katherine told them Elizabeth's kidnapper looked something like the former handyman.
Mary Katherine told her family about the Emmanuel connection back in October. Salt Lake City police said the family first told them about Emmanuel on Oct. 13 and then interviewed Mary Katherine two days later. Between October and early February, half of the investigators were devoted to following unexplained questions regarding the late Richard Ricci and searching for Emmanuel.
Three different composite sketches were made of Mitchell, Dinse said. The Smart family wanted to go public with one of the sketches early on, but the task force was against that idea because they did not feel feel like they had an accurate composite and did not want to generate an influx of futile leads.
On Feb. 10, investigators gave their blessing to the release of a sketch. That public showing of led to Mitchell's sister calling authorities with his identity, the man's stepson providing investigators with photos and ultimately led to Elizabeth's rescue, police said. Salt Lake City police conceded they may have made some mistakes.
"In hindsight, it's 20/20 vision," Dinse said. "If we had to go back over it again that decision by the investigators. I think every and each one of them would say I wish we had gone public with that photograph sooner."
Dinse said Salt Lake police did not issue a multi-state bulletin for Mitchell because he did not have a violent criminal background and they did not have enough evidence to consider him a suspect. Regarding Ricci, who died Aug. 30 after suffering a cerebral hemorrhage while in jail on an unrelated parole violation, Dinse said he now believes he was not involved in Elizabeth's kidnapping.
No Hard Feelings From the Smarts