Brian David Mitchell has finally left Salt Lake City for his new home: federal prison.
Mitchell, convicted of the 2002 kidnap and rape of then 14-year-old Elizabeth Smart, was transferred out of the Salt Lake County jail Wednesday morning, said Lt. Michael Deniro, a spokesman for the jail.
It's still unclear which federal prison the 57-year-old is heading to, but that information will likely become public Thursday. The Federal Bureau of Prisons does not release where inmates are housed until they have been safely transported, said Edmond Ross, a spokesman for the Bureau of Prisons.
Ross previously told The Tribune that judges typically submit recommendations for where convicts should be housed, and an inmate is usually placed within 500 miles from his or her residence, if possible.
"We consider a number of factors," he said, including an inmate's security and medical needs.
Mitchell has been awaiting transport from the Salt Lake County jail since he was sentenced to life in prison on May 25 by U.S. District Judge Dale Kimball after a jury found Mitchell guilty of abducting Smart at knifepoint and keeping her captive for nine months.
Jim Thompson, U.S. Marshal for the District of Utah, confirmed Mitchell's Wednesday transport but couldn't provide details about the process, citing security reasons. He was able to say that Mitchell behaved during his move to prison.
"He was well-behaved and cooperative today. I would guess that he is filled with anxiety, like the other prisoners, about getting to his new detention facility and moving on with the next stage of their confinement," Thompson wrote in an e-mail. "Nothing stood out as unusual or unique about his behavior."
Deniro said last week that housing Mitchell in the county jail for the past few months hasn't been a problem.
"The federal government pays for the costs on their prisoners. So Mr. Mitchell costs us very little to house," Deniro said. "With a high-profile case like this, I am sure they are being cautious as to where they place him and are waiting for the right location to be available. It is not a problem for us to house him until they are ready."
People close to Mitchell have been preparing to say goodbye to him in recent weeks, knowing his transport to federal prison was imminent.
Rebecca Woodridge, Mitchell's former stepdaughter, who has visited the man weekly in jail, said she wished Mitchell well and encouraged him to write to her from his prison cell.
"He knows he's in for very difficult times ahead," Woodridge said in a recent interview.
Mitchell's eight-year court saga concluded in July when 3rd District Judge Judith Atherton signed an order dismissing state kidnapping and sexual abuse charges that were filed after Smart's rescue in March 2003, when the girl was discovered in Sandy in the company of Mitchell and his wife, Wanda Eileen Barzee.
The state case had been in legal limbo for years because of issues surrounding Mitchell's mental competency.
In federal court, meanwhile, Mitchell was found competent, convicted by a jury of crimes against Smart and sentenced to life in prison.
Following his federal conviction, Mitchell declared he did not want to continue the court fight by appealing his conviction. Salt Lake County prosecutors then moved to dismiss their state case against Mitchell.
Once Mitchell is safely admitted into prison, his location will be posted at the Bureau of Prisons website at http://www.bop.gov/inmate_locator.
Why did it take so long to bring Mitchell to trial?
A lengthy state court battle over Mitchell's competency ended when a judge declared Mitchell incompetent to stand trial in 2008 and also ruled he couldn't forcibly be medicated to try to restore his mental health.
Federal prosecutors filed charges and succeeded in having him declared competent with a different approach: using both mental health experts and lay witnesses, including some who had interacted with Mitchell at the Utah State Hospital.
A federal court jury convicted Mitchell of crimes against Smart. A judge in May sentenced him to life in prison. It then took the Federal Bureau of Prisons several months to find an appropriate prison assignment for Mitchell.
ÂHow much time will Mitchell's wife, Wanda Eileen Barzee, serve?
Barzee, 65, is currently serving a 15-year term at a Texas federal prison. A federal judge gave Barzee credit for the seven years she had already spent behind bars, either at Utah State Hospital or the Salt Lake County jail. Barzee's federal time is running concurrently with a one-to-15-year state conviction for the July 2002 attempted kidnapping of Smart's cousin. Barzee will be eligible for state parole in 2018, but she could remain in prison until 2024.