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McEntee: For Dorotha Smart, it is time to move on

Published November 18, 2009 7:38 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2009, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Dorotha Smart was there when her granddaughter, Elizabeth Smart, told a court exactly what had happened to her during her nine months in bondage with Brian David Mitchell and Wanda Barzee.

She was there Tuesday when Barzee pleaded guilty to kidnapping and taking Elizabeth Smart across state lines, glancing over her shoulder at Dorotha and her son, Ed Smart.

And, as women will, Dorotha Smart took a moment to speak with Barzee's "little mother," as she calls her. "I just said, 'Well, we've suffered a lot,' I related to Dora Corbett ... what it must have meant for her to hear her daughter confess."

It always falls to parents and grandparents to protect children, and, when something evil befalls them, to suffer for and with them. Like her son and daughter-in-law, Ed and Lois Smart, and the whole family, Dorotha Smart was among the fortunate few: Elizabeth came home.

"It's kind of a miracle that she's come out of this so beautifully," Dorotha Smart said Wednesday. "She's a quiet girl, but she has an inner strength and beauty of soul. I'm just so grateful."

The last thing she wants to do is revisit what happened during the nine months her grandchild was missing, and she says they've never talked about it.

Better to play her piano, and Elizabeth her harp. To visit England and Spain when Elizabeth finished study abroad a while ago. To celebrate her granddaughter's entry into the LDS Church's Missionary Training Center, also on Tuesday. "It was a big day," she said.

There was one thing Dorotha was happy to talk about -- the day Elizabeth was found. She and her husband, Charles, had driven to Palm Springs for a much-needed respite when the call came.

"It was just surreal, so stunning," she said.

They raced northward, arriving in Salt Lake City about 3 a.m., only to find Ed and Lois Smart's home flooded by television lights. It would be the next day before they saw their granddaughter.

On the way home, though, Dorotha Smart heard a news snippet that mentioned the name Barzee. It was only when her granddaughter told her, "Wanda said she worked for your mother," that she put it all together. Long after Dorotha was married and living out of state, a teenage Barzee had helped her mother with housework.

"The fact that she had told Elizabeth, that she realized I was her grandmother ... it just shocked me," Dorotha Smart said.

Then, to see Barzee in court, to talk to her mother.

And to know that her granddaughter is unlikely to ever have to return to court; her testimony will be used if Mitchell is found competent to stand trial.

"There's been closure there," she said. "We're moving on.

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