Sister Recounts How She Helped Find Elizabeth Smart

ByABC News

July 21, 2005 -- -- The only witness to the June 2002 kidnapping of Elizabeth Smart says the path to the missing Utah girl's recovery began with a picture of a muscular woman.

Mary Katherine Smart says several months after her sister disappeared, she was cleaning her room and happened to flip through a copy of the Guinness Book of World Records.

"The page was like ... [a] really muscular lady and like a Harley Davidson person, and I was thinking like who has been to the house, and who was suspicious, or and the name "Emmanuel" came into my head."

Police say Emmanuel turned out to be a Bible-quoting drifter who the Smart family had hired to do some work in 2001. On March 13, 2003, several weeks after Mary Katherine's realization, police found her sister with the man.

Mary Katherine says she doesn't know why she thought of Emmanuel when she was flipping through the book. But her mother says Mary Katherine told her she may have been looking at the book when Emmanuel had been working nearby.

In her first interview about her sister's kidnapping, Mary Katherine Smart described to "Primetime" co-anchor Diane Sawyer what happened the night her sister was kidnapped.

She was 9. Elizabeth was 14. They were asleep in their beds when a man quietly entered through a kitchen window and came up to their room.

"I was sort of awake, and I saw this guy in my room, and I'm like 'Who is he?'" Mary Katherine said.

"I saw him in come over to my side, and then I saw him walk over to Elizabeth and he tapped her, and she's like "What is it?" And I guess she thought it was me."

The man forced Elizabeth to get out of her bed and get shoes. "If I was her I would have like screamed my head off. I don't know how she did it," Mary Katherine said.

She got up to tell her parents, but stopped at her bedroom door because she saw the man forcing her sister down the hall. Terrified, she ran back to bed.

"I thought, you know, be quiet, because if he hears you, he might take you too, and you're the only person who has seen this," Mary Katherine said. "I was, like, shaking."

Two hours passed before she got up to tell her parents. "I'm like, 'Dad, Elizabeth's gone,' and he gets up and he goes racing into our room."

When police arrived, they gave the family instructions about not confusing the only witness to the crime.

"They actually said do not talk about it, because the more you talk about it, then she will glean information from those people around her discussing it and then she will not be able to maybe remember what she actually did see or hear," said Mary Katherine's mother Lois.

But Mary Katherine's account would prove to be jumbled. She says she thought she saw a gun, but it was a knife.

She also remembers seeing the man dressed in white -- in fact, he was dressed in black. She even thought he was wearing a kind of golf hat. He was not.

And she told police that man she saw was about 30 or 40 years old. In fact, he was 49 at the time.

"Her memory was like a tossed salad of perception. When you have this tossed salad in the aftermath of a trauma, sometimes what you do is you start gluing pieces together into a composite that actually doesn't resemble the actual experience," said memory expert Steve Ceci.

"Later when you feel more psychologically safe, you are capable then of seeing things and linking things you weren't capable of doing hours after a traumatic event."

To help Mary Katherine feel safe again, the Smart family bought her a dog. Lois Smart said the little tiny Schnauzer "was very protective of her and barked and so it was a good thing."

When police found Elizabeth Smart almost a year later, she was just 15 miles from home, in the company of Emmanuel, a self-styled street preacher whose real name is Brian David Mitchell, and his wife, Wanda Barzee.

Police say Mitchell, 51, believed in polygamy and took Elizabeth in order to make her one of his wives. Court records said she had been at times imprisoned in an underground hole covered with boards or chained to a tree.

Mitchell and Barzee, 59, were accused of kidnapping, aggravated burglary, attempted aggravated kidnapping and other charges in Elizabeth's disappearance. Barzee was found incompetent to stand trial; Mitchell awaits a decision on his competency.

Mary Katherine says that when saw her sister for the first time, she says she looked taller -- but "otherwise she was the same."

The Smarts are trying to put their ordeal behind them. Elizabeth, now 17, has stayed silent, but spoke to Sawyer privately about shopping, school and her boyfriend.

The family has agreed to discuss the past during therapy sessions, but they are trying to move on.

Mary Katherine told Sawyer she has one wish for her sister. "Just for her to be happy," she said.

As for herself? "Well, I want to be a veterinarian," she said.

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