Updates to our Terms of Use

We are updating our Terms of Use. Please carefully review the updated Terms before proceeding to our website.

Monday, June 17, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

FBI Agent Says Elizabeth Smart’s Captor|Was ‘Enjoying Limelight’ After Arrest

SALT LAKE CITY (CN) - Elizabeth Smart's captor "was enjoying the limelight" after his arrest for allegedly kidnapping and raping the 14-year-old, even though he said the world saw him as "monster" and a "child predator," an FBI special agent testified Monday in the trial against Brian David Mitchell. The agent said Mitchell insisted he had never taken measures to keep Smart from escaping, claiming Smart "had been bound by her false traditions and prejudices."

Called by the prosecution, agent George Dougherty said he questioned Mitchell on several occasions after the 2003 arrest. Dougherty called Mitchell "intelligent" and "very cautious."

Mitchell "talked about the impact that the case had drawn" at the time and "only answered questions that he could use and funnel through his beliefs," Dougherty testified.

"When I asked him specifics he would pause for a long time while he formulated an answer," Dougherty said.

Mitchell told Dougherty that he was a "servant of God," not a prophet, and talked about "God's love" and "loving people" like "a 1960s hippie," Dougherty said.

"I know the world thinks I'm crazy," Mitchell allegedly told Dougherty during the interviews, which took place in a holding cell at the Salt Lake County Detention Center. "But I'm not crazy. I'm just doing God's will."

Dougherty said Mitchell acknowledged the marriage he performed on Smart was consummated after continuous questioning about the alleged daily rapes. He "grinned," Dougherty testified about the only time Mitchell mentioned sex, and told the agent, "That was pretty good. You got me to say something that I didn't want to say."

Dougherty had been with the FBI for six years in 2003, he said, and had previously interviewed several people who were mentally ill. He testified that he never thought Mitchell was ill.

"He wanted to answer questions the way he wanted to answer them," Dougherty said.

Dougherty said Mitchell perked up when he told the defendant he had read his book, "The Book of Immanuel David Isaiah," in which Mitchell detailed his fundamentalist Latter-day Saints beliefs. Other agents had tried to speak with Mitchell, but he would sing biblical hymns or repeatedly refuse to give a yes or no answer.

"We'd tried to open up dialogue," Dougherty said. "He'd been sitting there quite a while."

Mitchell often sat with his eyes closed during the initial interrogations, but opened his eyes and asked Dougherty if he'd read the whole book when it was mentioned, Dougherty said. Dougherty read the book "cover-to-cover" that night.

"I think he was pleased. ... I felt like he tried to take me on as a project," Dougherty said.

"He talked about the impact that this case had drawn," Dougherty added. "He was enjoying the limelight."

But Mitchell abruptly ended the interviews and refused to respond when the questions veered toward an attempted home break-in to take another child bride in California, the agent said.

Monday morning, prior to calling Dougherty to testify, the prosecution showed the jury nearly two hours of videotape of Mitchell's interrogation by another FBI agent and a police officer. The men, many times raising their voices, called Mitchell a "pussy" and a "loser."

"You're no servant of Jesus Christ," one of the interrogators said. "You're just a loser who can't keep a job or hold a marriage together."

"The reason we know you're full of shit is because your actions speak louder than your words," the officers continued. "You're just full of shit."

"We know what happened. Wanda's getting a little older ... a little dumpy looking," the officers said. "If you want to go down like this, you're going down. You're not going down as a servant of God, you're going down as a child rapist. ... You're finished, my friend. You're going to die a very miserable old man in a jail cell."

Earlier in the tape, Mitchell told the officers that Smart was not 14 years old.

"In God's eyes, she's 18," Mitchell said. "I received her. The Lord brought her to me."

He also refused to answer interrogators' questions, repeatedly shouting, "Get thee behind me, Satan!"

The tape ended abruptly without showing the questioning coming to a close.

Dougherty said the missing footage would only show the authorities coordinating how to transport Mitchell back to jail.

The day's first witness was retired police officer Jill Fleming Ogilvie. She saw Mitchell, Smart and Mitchell's wife, Wanda Barzee, in California in January 2003 and reported the sighting.

"Something was wrong with the picture, clearly," Ogilvie said. "The young girl was out of place. She was school age and apparently not attending school. ... My professional gut reaction was that there was something wrong. I wanted to engage them and have a conversation."

But authorities did not follow up on her concerns.

"I reached out to law enforcement, the FBI, and nobody was doing anything," she said.

Mitchell, 57, has been deemed competent and is charged with kidnapping and unlawful transportation of a minor across state lines. He faces life in prison if convicted.

Barzee pleaded guilty to federal kidnapping charges last year and was sentenced to 15 years in prison.

Proceedings will resume with Dougherty's cross-examination on Tuesday morning.

Categories / Uncategorized

Subscribe to Closing Arguments

Sign up for new weekly newsletter Closing Arguments to get the latest about ongoing trials, major litigation and hot cases and rulings in courthouses around the U.S. and the world.