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Elizabeth Smart recalls her kidnapper Wanda Barzee's apology, questions her sincerity

Elizabeth Smart: Abuse victims naively blamed
Elizabeth Smart says she'll never ask "stupid questions" that fault abuse victims 05:48

The woman who helped her husband kidnap 14-year-old Elizabeth Smart in 2002 was released from prison Wednesday after more than 15 years behind bars, according to Kaitlin Felsted, public information officer at the Utah Department of Corrections. Smart told "CBS This Morning" co-host Gayle King earlier this week she believes Wanda Barzee is still a "danger" and hopes her family will commit her to a mental institution.

The now 30-year-old was abducted more than 16 years ago by Brian David Mitchell and Barzee. They held Smart captive for nine months before they were captured and convicted. Though Smart knew this day would eventually come, she doubts Barzee regrets her role in the kidnapping.

"Part of her plea deal back when her case came up – it was required for her to write an apology to me. But it was just a very brief, 'I'm sorry for what I've done, the end,' kind of thing," Smart said. "I don't think you can just kidnap a 14-year-old girl and, you know, not only sit by her while she's being raped but encourage the rapist to continue…. Then just at the end of it say, 'I'm sorry,' and really mean it."

Following her release, Barzee will be under federal supervision for five years. Her sister, who did not want to give her name, says she is unfit to leave prison.

"She's got nowhere to go," she said. "She's mentally ill, terribly mentally ill, and she's very manipulative."

Barzee was denied parole in July for the second time because she refused to be evaluated by a prison psychologist. Her release comes six years earlier than Smart expected because state officials discovered they miscalculated Barzee's sentence. Her attorney argued that once Barzee finished serving her federal sentence, she didn't need to serve any additional time in state prison.

Barzee's husband Brian David Mitchell grabbed Smart right out of her Salt Lake City bedroom. Still, Smart wonders whether she would have thought the victim was to blame on some level if it hadn't been her who was kidnapped.  

"It's true. I might naively have thought, 'Well, what was she wearing? What was she doing?'" Smart said. "I mean, it's a terrible thing that happened, but why didn't she do more?" And that I've been there. I will never be that person to ask those stupid questions. Because what you're really saying is, 'You should have done more.'"

Elizabeth Smart on journey from shame to fighting for change 06:56

"It shouldn't happen if I was an innocent 14-year-old girl or a girl working the corner," she said.

Smart may not believe Barzee is remorseful, but she has forgiven her captor.

"I don't feel that I could've moved forward in my life had I still been holding onto hate and anger inside me because that would still be taking up a percentage of my soul. And that means that, you know, I wouldn't be able to love my own children 100 percent, love my husband 100 percent, because a part of me would still be taken up with anger," Smart said.

Smart, now the mother of two, said that during her time in captivity she maintained a pinprick of hope despite repeated sexual assault.

"I had to turn back to my family," Smart said. "And that's really what sustained me was knowing that no matter what happened to me, no matter what anybody else thought, no matter if I ever had another friend in my entire life, my family would still love me. And for me, that was worth it."

It's unclear where Barzee is planning to live. A federal agent assigned to her case will keep track of where she is living and working. Meanwhile, her estranged husband remains in prison serving a life sentence for Smart's abduction.

"Prior to being kidnapped I was definitely that girl who, you know, loved happily ever after and getting married and having a family… and when I was kidnapped, I remember just feeling like it had all been ripped away from me," Smart said.  "And so once I was rescued, I just remember feeling like, 'I am not going to let life pass me by.'"

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