Brian David Mitchell told detectives who interviewed him shortly after his arrest that he had been commanded by God to kidnap Elizabeth Smart in 2002, and that she had "a glorious experience" with him.
The interview is shown in a video newly released by the Utah District Federal Court, in which a Salt Lake City police detective and an FBI agent question Mitchell sitting around a table in an interview room.
Mitchell, with his wild gray beard, spouts Biblical references and expounds his belief in his calling from God as the investigators try to pin him down on details about the abduction of Smart and the nine months he and Wanda Barzee held her captive.
The two-hour interview was conducted in 2003 by Salt Lake City Police Detective Cordon Parks and FBI Special Agent Jeffrey Ross hours after Mitchell was arrested in Sandy, Utah.
Smart was taken at knifepoint from her bed in the middle of the night on June 5, 2002, while her sister slept.
During Mitchell's trial last year, she told the court that Mitchell held a knife to her throat, took her to an encampment near Salt Lake City, pronounced her his wife, and raped her.
During the "nine months of hell," she testified, he raped her repeatedly, forced her to view pornography, drink alcohol and watch him and Barzee engage in sexual activity.
"I felt like because [of] what he had done to me that I was marked, that I wasn't clean, wasn't pure, wasn't worth the same," she testified. "I felt like another person would never love me."
Smart called Mitchell selfish and a "hypocrite" who raped her at every chance he got even while proclaiming himself to be God's servant.
When she testified, Smart did not confront her captor because he was removed from court every day for singing outbursts.
After a nine-month search that attracted extensive national coverage, Smart was rescued in 2003 when she was walking in a suburb of Salt Lake City with Mitchell and Barzee.
Barzee, 65, was sentenced in May 2010 to 15 years after she pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit kidnapping.
A District court judge allowed the early interrogation tapes to be released after Mitchell, a homeless street preacher, was convicted in December of kidnapping and transportation of a minor across state lines to engage in sexual activity.
This May, with the help of Smart's emotionally grueling testimony, Mitchell was sentenced to life in prison.
When the investigators told Mitchell what he was being accused of, his response was defiance.
"You're under arrest for aggravated kidnapping because the girl told us you took her, against her will, out of her house, at knifepoint," Parks tells Mitchell. "You're under arrest for aggravated sexual abuse on a minor ... both of these charges carry life in prison."
"You want to accuse me of being some diabolical, evil criminal and I'm a servant of the lord and I believe what I've been commanded to do," Mitchell says.
"So God commanded you to go into the Smart home and take her?"
"She's had a glorious experience," Mitchell says.
"A glorious experience with you?" one of the investigators responds.
At one point Mitchell tries to explain the relationship he believed he had with Smart, who was then 14 years old.
"I didn't marry her but she served me as a wife," he said.
"She served you as a wife? Did you have sexual intercourse with her?" one of the investigators asks.
"That's a very personal, private question," Mitchell says.
"It's a very relevant question... did you have sex with her, yes or no?" the investigator continues, but Mitchell again goes off on a tangent.
"You say you want to know the truth but the truth will set you free, it will set all men free," he says.
When Parks presses Mitchell for details of what happened that night Smart disappeared from her bedroom, Mitchell refuses to answer.
"Did you take this girl out of her house at knife-point, yes or no?" Parks asks.
"I'm not going to answer that question," Mitchell says.
"And why not?" Parks asks.
When the detectives try again to get Mitchell to open up, he responds with a Biblical reference, comparing himself to Peter.
"I don't expect that you are going to get out of custody until the day you die ... OK," Parks says. "Your future depends on this interview ... right here, right now. You're not taking this seriously."
"Do you remember that Peter was in prison and an angel came and the guards opened the doors and let him out," Mitchell says.
"Isaiah, no angel is going to let you out of this room," the detective said. "There's nobody coming for you."