SALT LAKE CITY (AP) – For three months after Elizabeth Smart vanished from her bedroom in the middle of the night, she was camped in a canyon behind her home, achingly close to her anguished family, and at one point even heard her uncle calling out her name.
Yesterday, family and friends of the 15-year-old girl focused not on what could have been, but on the astounding event many of them are calling a miracle: Elizabeth, taken from her bed at knifepoint as she slept nine months ago, was home again, playing the harp and watching her favorite movie, “The Trouble with Angels,” with her family.
“Elizabeth is happy, she is well, and we are so happy to have her back in our arms,” said her beaming father, Ed Smart.
Amid the joyful reunion was a growing list of questions: What about the shaggy-haired drifter accused of kidnapping the girl? Why didn’t police find him sooner? Above all, what happened to Elizabeth during the long span since she vanished last June?
Ed Smart said he had not pressed his daughter for details of her captivity.
“What is going to come out is going to come out,” he said. “I don’t have it in me to try and make this harder for her than it is.”
Asked how she had changed, he said she had returned home “really a young woman.”
Elizabeth was found Wednesday in suburban Sandy when two couples called police after spotting the drifter walking down the street. Brian David Mitchell, also known as Emmanuel, and his wife, Wanda Barzee, were jailed on suspicion of aggravated kidnapping.
For much of the time she was gone, it now appears Elizabeth was hiding in plain sight, sometimes swathed in robes and veils. The daughter of a faithful and affluent Mormon family apparently camped behind her home in Dry Creek Canyon, a popular hiking area searched many times last summer.