Thursday, October 17, 2013
The Other Elizabeth Smart
While looking up the changes to the Mann Act in the 1970’s and 1980's I came across a citation which stated that the Mann Act had been used in the Elizabeth Smart Case. This really puzzled me, as Ms. Smart was found only 18 miles from her home in Salt Lake City, Utah where she had been kidnapped on June 5, 2002. She was 14 years old at the time. Nine months later she was able to escape her abductors while out with the couple who had kidnapped her.
Brian David Mitchell and his companion, Wanda Ileen Barzee, were indicted kidnapping, and eventually convicted in 2010. The crime has been immortalized in both a book and a movie. So, given the facts I was a bit puzzled about the Mann Act connection. Reading further I found out about the other Elizabeth Smart.
The fact that there was another Elizabeth Smart at all was a real shock to me, and the Mann Act connection was interesting enough that I just had to look even further to find out the circumstances of the case. I thought perhaps there would be some similarities to the two crimes, seeing as how they both involved kidnapping. Boy, was I wrong!
The case of the other Elizabeth Smart couldn’t be more different. The present day Elizabeth Smart was a young girl who was actually kidnapped and the perpetrators sent to jail. The other Elizabeth Smart was about 20 years old at the time of her disappearance from Canada into the United States with her lover, British author George Barker, who was several decades her senior. The age difference was a thorn in her parent’s side, and she had actually run away with him to the United States where they intended to get married. It’s not very clear how they intended to accomplish this as he was already married and had several children at the time. He was as prolific an author as he was a steady progenitor. He had 11 children by other women and 4 more with Ms. Smart!
Her family apparently had enough clout to press charges against Mr. Barker for kidnapping their daughter, who was just shy of being legal at the time. The Mann Act seemed like a good way to go but the charges were later dropped. He returned to England in 1943, where he wrote and published an account of his affair with Ms. Smart; who had also become a longtime collaborator with him. That book was called “The Dead Seagull.” Ms. Smart also wrote about the affair in her books “Grand Central Station” and “I Sat Down and Wept”, neither of which I have read.
There is no lesson in this story; just recounting the story of the other Elizabeth Smart; connected by name, and separated by decades.