Elizabeth Smart

Elizabeth Ann Gilmour (née Smart; born November 3, 1987)[1] is an American child safety activist and commentator for ABC News.[2] She first gained national attention at the age of 14 when she was abducted from her home in Salt Lake City by Brian David Mitchell. Mitchell and his wife, Wanda Barzee, held Smart captive for nine months until she was rescued by police officers on a street in Sandy, Utah.

Elizabeth Smart
Elizabeth Smart Speaks About Overcoming Trauma.jpg
Smart in 2012
Elizabeth Ann Smart

(1987-11-03) November 3, 1987 (age 32)
Alma materBrigham Young University (B.M.)
  • Activist
  • journalist
Matthew Gilmour (m. 2012)

Smart has gone on to work as an activist and advocate for missing persons. Her life and abduction have been the subject of numerous non-fiction books and films.

Early lifeEdit

Elizabeth Ann Smart was born November 3, 1987, in Salt Lake City, Utah, to Edward "Ed" and Lois Smart. She was raised in a family that was a part of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,[3] with four brothers and one sister; she is the second-oldest child in her family. Smart attended Bryant Middle School and East High School in Salt Lake City, and later, Brigham Young University, where she earned her Bachelor of Music in harp performance.[4][5]

Abduction and rescueEdit

On June 5, 2002, Smart was abducted at knifepoint from her bedroom in her family's house in Salt Lake City, Utah. For the next nine months, Smart was raped daily, tied up, and threatened with death if she attempted to escape.[6] She was finally rescued by police officers on March 12, 2003, on a public street in Sandy, Utah, 18 miles from her home, following the help of two witnesses who recognized abductors Brian David Mitchell and Wanda Ileen Barzee from an America's Most Wanted episode.

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.

Abductor trialsEdit

On November 16, 2009, Barzee pled guilty to assisting in the kidnapping of Elizabeth Smart as part of a plea bargain with prosecutors.[7] 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.[8]

Mitchell was found competent to stand trial for kidnapping and sexual assault charges. He was found guilty on both counts and sentenced in May 2011 to two life terms in federal prison.[9]

Activism and journalismEdit

Elizabeth Smart (center) and her mother Lois meet 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 the United States 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.[10][11][12] In 2009, Smart commented on the kidnapping of Jaycee Lee Dugard, stressing that dwelling upon the past is unproductive.[13] On October 27, 2009, Elizabeth spoke at the 2009 Women's Conference in California, hosted by Maria Shriver, on overcoming obstacles in life.[14]

In 2011, Smart founded the Elizabeth Smart Foundation,[1] 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.[15][16]

In March 2011, Smart was one of four women awarded the Diane von Furstenberg Award.[17]

On July 7, 2011, it was announced that she would work as a commentator for ABC News, mainly focusing on missing persons.[18][19]

In July 2012, Smart was honored by Theta Phi Alpha National Fraternity with the Siena Medal award.[20] The medal is the highest honor the organization bestows upon a non-member and is named after their patroness, St. Catherine of Siena.[21]

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. Having been 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, avoiding viewing themselves as victims.[22][23]

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.[24]

In early 2015, Smart was featured in a video produced by Faith Counts in which she explains how her religious belief sustained her through her ordeal and helped her heal.[25]

As of September 2016, Smart was a correspondent for the true-crime show Crime Watch Daily.[26]

Various politicians have proposed a state bill that would require all computers to have a pornography filter, branding the bill the "Elizabeth Smart Law"; however, in March 2018, her spokesman denied her relationship to the proposal, and her lawyer sent a cease and desist letter to the politicians in which they were ordered not to use her name.[27]

Adult lifeEdit

On November 11, 2009 (a week after her 22nd birthday), Smart left Salt Lake City to serve as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Paris.[28][29] Smart temporarily returned from her mission in November 2010 in order 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 early 2011.[30]

While serving as missionaries in the Paris Mission, Smart met Scotland native Matthew Gilmour. In January 2012, after a courtship of one year, they became engaged.[31][32][33] They married on February 18, 2012, in a private ceremony in the Laie Hawaii Temple.[34][35]

Since then, Elizabeth has had three children: Chloé (born February 2015), James (born April 2017) and Olivia (born November 2018).[36][37][38][39][40]

Assault on airplaneEdit

In 2019, while traveling home to Utah aboard a Delta Airlines flight, Smart was woken up by the passenger next to her, who had begun rubbing Smart's inner thigh between her legs.[41]


In October 2013, My Story, a memoir of Smart's experience co-written with Chris Stewart, was published by St. Martin's Press.[42] The book details both Smart's kidnapping and the formation of the Elizabeth Smart Foundation, which works to promote awareness about abduction.[43][44]

Smart has played the harp on national television in the United States.[45]

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 by Smart's father.

In 2017, on the 15th anniversary of her June 5 abduction, Lifetime aired the made-for-TV film titled I Am Elizabeth Smart, narrated and produced by Smart, which tells the story of her kidnapping from her own perspective. The film starred Alana Boden as Elizabeth Smart, Skeet Ulrich as Brian David Mitchell, Deirdre Lovejoy as Wanda Ileen Barzee, George Newbern as Ed Smart, and Anne Openshaw as Lois Smart.[46]

In 2018, Smart published Where There's Hope: Healing, Moving Forward, and Never Giving Up with St. Martin's Press.[47][48]



  1. ^ a b "Elizabeth Smart Fast Facts". CNN. October 31, 2017. Retrieved November 18, 2017.
  2. ^ Smolowe, Jill (June 16, 2011). "Elizabeth: 'I Forgive Him'". People. 75 (22). Retrieved October 10, 2017.
  3. ^ "Elizabeth Smart Shares About Her Faith And Kidnapping". NPR. Tell Me More. December 31, 2013. Retrieved November 18, 2017.
  4. ^ Talbot, Margaret (October 21, 2013). "Gone Girl". newyorker.com. New Yorker.
  5. ^ Hanson, Kurt (November 5, 2012). "Elizabeth Smart honored for 'Legacy of Hope'". universe.byu.edu.
  6. ^ "Elizabeth Smart says she was raped daily". The Daily Herald. 2009. Retrieved October 7, 2009.
  7. ^ "Barzee expected to enter guilty plea in Smart case". The Daily Herald. 2009. Retrieved November 16, 2009.
  8. ^ "Elizabeth Smart kidnapper pleads guilty to trying to abduct cousin - CNN.com". www.cnn.com. Retrieved August 28, 2019.
  9. ^ "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.
  10. ^ "You're Not Alone: The Journey From Abduction to Empowerment". Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. Retrieved September 12, 2017.
  11. ^ "Elizabeth Smart hopes to aid victims". CNN. Retrieved May 20, 2008.
  12. ^ Reavy, Pat (May 20, 2008). "Elizabeth Smart: Ready for college and moving on after kidnapping". Deseret News. Archived from the original on May 21, 2008. Retrieved May 20, 2008.
  13. ^ Oh, Eunice (August 28, 2009). "Elizabeth Smart's Advice to Jaycee Dugard: Move Forward in Life". People. Retrieved September 12, 2017.
  14. ^ "The Women's Conference hosted by California's First Lady". Archived from the original on April 16, 2013. Retrieved March 14, 2010.
  15. ^ Nair, Vinita (November 22, 2014). "Former kidnap victim Elizabeth Smart fights to stop human trafficking". CBS News. Retrieved January 5, 2015.
  16. ^ "Fundraisers in Review". Retrieved January 5, 2015.
  17. ^ Moss, Hilary (March 12, 2011). "Hillary Clinton, Elizabeth Smart Honored By Diane Von Furstenberg". Huffington Post. Retrieved March 14, 2011.
  18. ^ Dobner, Jennifer (July 7, 2011). "Elizabeth Smart to work as ABC commentator". The San Diego Union-Tribune. Associated Press. Retrieved September 13, 2017.
  19. ^ Collins, Lois M. (July 7, 2011). "Elizabeth Smart to join ABC for missing-persons insight". Deseret News. Retrieved September 13, 2017.
  20. ^ "Siena Medalists | Theta Phi Alpha". www.thetaphialpha.org. Retrieved December 12, 2019.
  21. ^ "Awards Recipients | Theta Phi Alpha". www.thetaphialpha.org. Retrieved December 12, 2019.
  22. ^ "Video: Elizabeth Smart speaks at Johns Hopkins University". May 7, 2013. Retrieved May 9, 2013.
  23. ^ "Jay Evenson, Deseret News article analysising what Smart said". Perspectivesonthenews.blogs.deseretnews.com. May 7, 2013. Retrieved October 9, 2013.
  24. ^ Brown, Madeleine (February 19, 2014), "Elizabeth Smart backs bill on child sexual abuse prevention training in schools", Deseret News
  25. ^ "Multi-faith Initiative Viewed by Millions— Faith Counts releases new video featuring Elizabeth Smart". Newsroom. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. February 6, 2015. Retrieved September 13, 2017.
  26. ^ "Elizabeth Smart returns for season two of 'Crime Watch Daily with Chris Hansen'". fox13now.com. September 15, 2016. Retrieved July 23, 2019.
  27. ^ Elizabeth Smart demands porn bill backer stop using her name - Michelle R. Smith, The Washington Post / AP, March 26, 2018
  28. ^ Reavy, Pat (September 17, 2009). "Elizabeth Smart could testify before leaving for LDS mission". Deseret News. Archived from the original on September 22, 2009. Retrieved September 18, 2009.
  29. ^ McEntee, Peg (November 19, 2009). "For Dorotha Smart, it is time to move on". The Salt Lake Tribune. Archived from the original on November 26, 2009. Retrieved December 9, 2009.
  30. ^ Pat Reavy (May 19, 2011). "Deseret News, May 18, 2011". Deseretnews.com. Retrieved October 9, 2013.
  31. ^ "Former Utah kidnapping victim Elizabeth Smart gets engaged". MSNBC. January 20, 2012. Archived from the original on January 22, 2012. Retrieved January 20, 2012.
  32. ^ "Elizabeth Smart Gets Married". People. February 18, 2012. Retrieved February 18, 2012.
  33. ^ "Elizabeth Smart marries boyfriend in private, spur of the moment Hawaiian ceremony". NewsCore. February 19, 2012. Retrieved February 19, 2012.
  34. ^ Lee, Jasen (February 18, 2012). "Elizabeth Smart marries in Hawaiian Mormon temple". Deseret News. Retrieved February 22, 2012.
  35. ^ Nelson, James (February 19, 2012). "Former kidnap victim Elizabeth Smart marries in Hawaii". Reuters. Retrieved February 19, 2012.
  36. ^ Eaton, Nate (May 18, 2015). "ED SMART'S BIG SCREEN MISSION TO STOP CHILD SEX TRAFFICKING". Retrieved August 21, 2016.
  37. ^ "Kidnap Survivor Elizabeth Smart Shares First Photo of Her New Baby Boy on Easter Sunday". people.com. April 16, 2017.
  38. ^ "Elizabeth Smart shares first photo of adorable baby boy on Easter". deseretnews.com. April 17, 2017.
  39. ^ Calvario, Liz (June 26, 2018). "Elizabeth Smart is Pregnant With Her Third Child". Retrieved July 29, 2018.
  40. ^ "Elizabeth Smart gives birth to third child, a baby girl". SRN News. November 19, 2018.
  41. ^ Doha Madani; Joe Fryer; Elisha Fieldstadt (February 7, 2020). "Elizabeth Smart says she was sexually assaulted on an airplane last year". NBC News. Retrieved May 17, 2020.
  42. ^ 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.
  43. ^ 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.
  44. ^ Foy, Paul (May 7, 2013). ""Elizabeth Smart details experience in Memoir", Deseret News, October 7, 2013". Deseretnews.com. Retrieved October 9, 2013.
  45. ^ "Elizabeth Plays The Harp". NBC News. October 5, 2013. Retrieved September 12, 2017.
  46. ^ Saraiya, Sonia (November 17, 2017). "Lifetime's 'I Am Elizabeth Smart'". TV Reviews. Variety. Archived from the original on November 26, 2017. Retrieved November 26, 2017.
  47. ^ Smart, Elizabeth A. (March 27, 2018). Where There's Hope: Healing, Moving Forward, and Never Giving Up. St. Martin's Press. ISBN 978-1250115522.
  48. ^ Smart, Elizabeth A. (March 27, 2018). "Where There's Hope: Healing, Moving Forward, and Never Giving Up". Barnes & Noble. Retrieved July 8, 2018.


See alsoEdit

External linksEdit