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Crackpot Theories of the Elizabeth Smart Abduction




Only a few hours after Brian David Mitchell snuck in through window of the ritzy Federal Heights home on June 5, 2002 and abducted Elizabeth Smart, theories about the kidnapping began flying around Salt Lake.

And not only in Utah. Elizabeth Smart was a national obsession. With the arrival of the tabloids on the scene the rumors began to fly, the wilder the better.

Everyone had an opinion. She was killed by a family member and the kidnapping was a cover up. She was a runaway. A crazed psychopath had abducted her for unspeakable purposes. The lurid nature of the crime excited the darkest revulsion and titillation in the nation's collective unconscious. The one consistent among all the theories (except for the small but dedicated runaway contingent) was that she was dead. That was a dead-bang certainty.

Where the Elizabeth Smart rumor mill really produced chaff was the internet. The worldwide web has replaced the photocopied pamphlet as the prime platform for the whacked-out kook. No matter how crazed a viewpoint, the web welcomes it. Soon the heated postings on Usernet groups follow, continuing the love affair.

Psychics predicted, amateur criminologists sleuthed, all their musing engraved in HTML, ready to be resurrected by anyone with a good search engine. That is why, when Elizabeth Smart was found alive March 12, 2003, there were a lot of words coming back to haunt folks.


Ask Sollog

The day the story broke about the Salt Lake City kidnapping of Elizabeth Smart , I was told by Sollog the world famous mystic that "the girl was already dead!" He stated that it was, "another SATANIC SACRIFICE on THE LINE OF SOLLOG !"

This sinister quote was posted on the alt.prophesies.nostrodamus news group June 16, 2002 by an acolyte of the web-based psychic Sollog (a.k.a. John Ennis).

Sollog hosts several web sites dedicated to his rambling on the state of modern religion and our downhill slide towards a nuclear conflagration and such like. He also devotes considerable megabytes to apocalyptic prophesies, his most spectacular claim being that he forecasted the terrorist destruction of the World Trade Center towers.

That most modern religious leaders use their worship of Jesus as a cover for their true master, Satan, is one of his wackier theories. He is loaded with them.

The day following the Elizabeth Smart kidnapping, a follower asked whether the kidnapping was related to the Jon Benet Ramsey murder on his Ask Sollog web site. The mystic had lot of answers. Needless to say, his tidbits about the Smart case vanished from his site after the teenager was discovered. But, due to the unforgiving nature of the internet, his remarkable visions concerning the fate of Elizabeth Smart remain available.

"Elizabeth Smart was SACRIFICED in a satanic ritual, as was Jon Benet Ramsey. Both the Ramsey's and Smart's are members of a satanic cult that commands the sacrifice of a child in their family."

Pretty damned spooky, also completely off the mark. Like many arm-chair sleuths, he lay the blame at the innocent feet of Ed Smart and clan. He upped the ante on the theorists who figured it was due to homosexual leaning of Ed and his brothers (propagated in the notorious National Enquirer article). Her parents performed the killing of their teenage daughter at the behest of Lucifer.

Sollog backed his bold claims with a mind-numbing display of cabalistic legerdemain that made connections between Ramsey and Smart based on numerical similarities in their names. He also had some interesting things to say about Mormonism in general.

"The Smart family traces their roots back to one of the twelve apostles of Joseph Smith the founder of the LDS or Mormon church....There is a vast network of satanic cults in the USA that practice child sacrifices. The Ramsey's and Smart's are secret members of these cults! Likewise, in the LDS there is a cult of believers that believe Jesus was Lucifer, just like they do in Rome. It is these hidden groups within these church movements that sacrifice their young to Lucifer!"

Sollog goes on to connect the Smart abduction to everything bad that has happened in the U.S.A. in the past fifty years, including the Oklahoma bombing, the Columbine shootings, and the murder of Johnnie Versace. Elizabeth Smart was no mere victim of a lone nut or simple family homicide. She was one in a long line of sacrafices made to a Satanic order that has been pulling the strings of world events in a sinister plot to move us towards nuclear holocaust.

Needless to say he backed off the Smart case after she was found. He hasn't really written much about her or tried to explain where his mystic powers went wrong. His followers have posted lame defenses on the Usernet, claiming either his Smart revelations were never intended to be true prophesy or, better yet, that the term "satanic sacrifice" was really symbolic for kidnapped by a polygamist nut. Neither Sollog or his followers have explained the symbolic representation of " both the Ramsey's and Smart's are members of a satanic cult that commands the sacrifice of a child in their family." Nor have they spoken up up about the place Brian David Mitchell and Wanda Barzee hold in the vast Satanic org.

Sollog has shifted the Elizabeth Smart prophesy department to his wife, Nikkee, who shares space on the Ask Sollog web space. On June 7, 2002 (or so they claim), she wrote a more optimistic prophesy for the missing teenage girl.

"Be Aware of the number 113, for it will always be known for its TRAGEDY. In the silence of night, there has has been HUMAN SACRIFICE. This ANGEL of EL has been taken. But make no mistake, She is not FORSAKEN. LOOK to TOOELE people of SALT LAKE, BE AWARE, it might not be what you think....This is my spiritual reading for those who SEEK ELIZABETH SMART
Goddess of Victory"

Nikkee's followers have made much of the 113 reference due to the March 12 recovery of Smart. They claim, that through cabalistic mumbo-jumbo the 113 (March 11, get it?), she is right on the money and not a day early. The lines about Smart not being forsaken and "it might not be what you think," have been touted by devotees that the Sollog prophesy machine is still calling them straight. Once again, satanic sacrifice substitutes for abduction by a kook.

Remote Viewers Get Bad Reception

"The data that we have collected so far is as follows: Elizabeth is dead & hidden inside of a man-made structure. Part of this structure has sloped sides and also has a long shaft connected to it. Her body lies near or underneath a pile of rocks close to a grate which lies in an enclosed, narrow space."

Such was the claim made on the Psi-Tech web site August 22nd, 2002. What the hell is Psi-Tech?. It is a Seattle-based company that deals in matters psychic.

Psi-Tech was founded by Col. Ed Dames, a flamboyant character who claims, among other things, to have once been in charge of the U.S. Army's psi warfare program. The company offers paranormal consulting that is a bit more upscale than the average psychic hotline. It had been brought into the case at the behest of Dave Smart, one of Elizabeth's uncles.

It is one of those groups that researches occult matters but cloaks the subject in scientific terms. A vision becomes a "technical remote viewing." A psychic transforms into a "remote viewer." This jargon lends Psi-Tech slightly more credibility in a field that is generally ridiculed. It is the kind of company a police force might employ as a last ditch effort on a desperate case, just like in the movies. Dames left the company he founded on less than amiable terms prior to the Smart case.

"A few hours after we learned of the abduction event last June, Joni and myself and a few of our top people tasked our TRV skills to see if Elizabeth was still alive. Unfortunately she wasn't. Using Technical Remote Viewing we can tell with great accuracy, if a person is deceased in a matter of minutes. In Elizabeth's case, we knew she had already been killed by her abductor."

This little tidbit was part of a news release by Psi-Tech CEO Dane Spotts, posted on the company web site at the end of August. Employing a team of 14 remote viewers, Spotts and associates determined Elizabeth's body was hidden in a concrete structure by the "This Is The Place Monument," near the mouth of Emigration Canyon. Their vision also revealed that Smart's resting place was a tomb the state had built to house 75 native American bodies discovered at an archeological site.

Even more astounding, Psi-Tech came up with a possible kidnapper. It turned over the name of a suspect to police. Luckily for all involved, neither the police or Psi-Tech released the identity of the psychically-busted suspect.

Spotts and company president, Joni Dourif traveled to the alleged spot where Elizabeth was hidden. They dragged along the police and a state archeologist and cajoled them into searching the concrete building. Of course, no sign of Elizabeth's decomposing corpse was found as she was alive and the prisoner of Mitchell.

The Psi-Tech leaders did not take it very well that a corpse had failed to turn up. Spotts lashed out at the archeologist for not allowing them access to the site and even implied the state employee might have some sinister motive for excluding the remote viewers from the search.

When Elizabeth was discovered still living and nowhere near the supposed entombment of her body, Psi-Tech did some back pedaling.

The news on Wednesday broke of the retrieval of Elizabeth Smart. Since that day, PSI TECH has been inundated with hate mail because we announced early in our investigation that she was deceased. Personally, I must tell you, I am devastated.

This rather generous helping of crow was eaten by Psi-Tech with a news release by Dourif on the company web site two days after Elizabeth was found. Gone were the detailed descriptions of their psychic investigation and in its place was a lengthy apologia, hastily composed, explaining what went wrong.

Psi-Tech would not admit it completely screwed the pooch. The news release spun the facts in a way that, much like Sollog, alleged its remote viewers got it sort of right.

The remote viewers were emotionally frazzled from another grueling child disappearance when they focused their psychic powers on the Smart case, Dourif explained. This exhaustion led to a bad interpretation of the viewing.

"Our first dire mistake was our rush to conclusion that Elizabeth was deceased in our initial public spot report. We "assumed" that because we found her unmoving and lying still in one place."

Elizabeth was drugged when Psi-Tech looked in, says Dourif. The remote viewers naturally assumed she was dead. They really saw her. Honest.

Psi-Tech also explained away the naming of a suspect as another reasonable assumption. The remote viewers saw him "constraining and abusing a woman" and naturally concluded he was the Smart culprit.

"As it turns out, because of the P.I. company's ground investigation, we discovered that he indeed had a history of recently abusing his wife and girlfriend. They also found human blood and a gun hidden in his car....Although we got a "bad guy" who abused women and carried illegal firearms off the streets, we have tarnished the public view of this technology by being wrong about Elizabeth's mortality."

There are three possible conclusions about Psi-Tech. It is genuine, or a well-meaning company pursuing a fake science, or a total scam. Only Psi-Tech knows for sure.

The skeptic might conjecture that company execs played the odds. Past examples show that it is a pretty sure bet a teenage girl is dead after being abducted by a nut and missing for several days. The killer would quickly consummate the gruesome act given the passion usually involved in such a crime. It is then only a matter of researching the area near the Smart home to find a likely dumping place for the body. On this one Psi-Tech crapped out.

Ed Smart Dood It

About a week or so ago, Ed and Lois were on the John Walsh daytime talk show. Ed had a very guilty look on his face. Ed looked the way Jack Tripper looked on "Three's Company" when Jack was hiding something.
Alex K.

A major portion of the conjecture was aimed at the Smart family. Ed Smart, Elizabeth's father, in particular unjustly took the brunt of our collective suspicion.

The two main schools in this line of thought were, the majority view that Elizabeth was the victim of domestic violence, and the much smaller adherents of theory that the family was hiding the teen to conceal some disgrace like pregnancy. As to the latter theory, every one knows the smartest way to cover-up an unwanted pregnancy is to fake a major felony that is sure to draw the interest of law enforcement across the nation.

The domestic homicide theory was meatier. Most murders are committed by someone the victim knows. When a child or young teenager is thrown into the mix there is a good chance a family member is involved.

Most people in Utah were uncomfortable suggesting Ed Smart was guilty. Such a horrible accusation could only add to the suffering of the family. Though many refused to say such an unspeakable thing aloud, a hell of a lot of people thought Ed had killed his daughter.

Those computer geeks who feel it necessary to post their every thought on the Usernet weren't so squeamish. To many, Ed's pleas for his little girl in numerous press conference didn't ring true. They just didn't like the guy. News groups such as are filled with posting of folks who claimed Smart's very real grief seemed phony.

Enter the National Enquirer. While reputable news agencies were reluctant to explore the seamier aspects of the case, the tabloid reporters that flocked to Utah in the wake of the Smart kidnapping were more than willing to dish up the dirt.

Two Salt Lake Tribune reporters, Kevin Cantera and Michael Vigh, sold information to the locally embedded Enquirer correspondent to the tune of $10,000 each. The result was the notorious May 5, 2002 Enquirer cover story "Utah Cops, Secret Diary Exposes Family Sex Ring." The article detailed alleged acts of homosexuality and sadomasochism practiced by Ed Smart and his brothers. Though the article avoided explicitly naming Ed or his brothers as killers, the implication was obvious. The alleged sexual preference of dad and his siblings was somehow connected to Elizabeth's disappearance.

I do not particularly trust Ed Smart . Ed Smart and Tom Smart may be closet gays, and Elizabeth may have found out about them. Ed may have a motive to get rid of Liz.
Posted 9-25-2002 alt.true-crime

Internet sleuths soon began expanding on the gay killer theory. A persistent rumor showing up was that the FBI had discovered gay porn on Ed's computer. These amateur Sherlock Holmes deduced that somehow Elizabeth had discovered her dad's dirty little secret and had to be silenced. A pretty extreme reaction to being outed.

The accusations had no basis in verifiable fact. Ed successfully sued the Enquirer over the story. Correspondent Alan Butterfield, as part of the settlement between the tabloid and Smart, ratted out Vigh and Cantera.

The revelation that two of their own had collaborated with the despised tabloid caused a major crisis at the local daily. The Tribune's credibility had taken a good shot to the nose. Both reporters were fired and Tribune editor, James Shelledy, resigned in disgrace after publicly supporting the two before he had all the facts.

Now that it has been proven that gay leanings had absolutely nothing to do with Elizabeth's disappearance, most of the heat has been taken off of the Smarts by internet theorists. Except for the occasional jab at Lois Smart for bringing a kook like Mitchell to her home, most web denizens realize their musings about the family's role in Elizabeth's abduction was wrong-headed and truly hurtful to a family in genuine pain.

Poor, Poor Richard

One of the most tragic figures in the Smart case is Richard Ricci. He was the main suspect in the Smart abduction for many months. Although the police never officially named the handyman as the kidnapper, Ricci was interrogated and polygraphed by police, and had his reputation sullied by the media.

The ex-con seemed like the perfect suspect. His alibi for the night Elizabeth was kidnapped was shaky, he had a criminal record and recently left his employment with Ed Smart on less than glowing terms.

The problem: he was innocent. A statement to the police by his car mechanic really put Ricci in the hot seat.

According to the mechanic, Ricci had taken his jeep, which was being worked on, from the garage about the time of the abduction. It has an extra thousand miles logged on the tachometer when the mud-covered Jeep was returned three days later . Even more suspicious, the mechanic said he saw Ricci pull two bags and post-hole digger from the vehicle.

On June 14th, police arrested Ricci for a parole violation. Everybody knew what it was really about. The cops had their man and were just putting him the slammer until they could get more concrete evidence. He was an ex-con, for pete's sake. He must be the one.

Ricci died of a brain hemorrhage on August 30 while in jail. One policeman even said the secret of Elizabeth’s whereabouts vanished with the handyman. The police had wasted three valuable months investigating Ricci. Now that he was dead it looked like the search was over. Police officials have denied they dead-filed the case after Ricci’s death, but it obviously was a blow to verifying what they thought were the circumstances of the crime.

Ricci is mostly forgotten, a causality in the search for Elizabeth Smart. Angela Ricci, Richard’s wife, filed suit for libel, false prosecution, and wrongful death on August 30, 2003 against, among others, Salt Lake police chief Rick Dinse. It hardly raised a ripple in a media that was once so eager to parade his face for all to see.

He was no angel. Ricci had been convicted of armed robbery in 1983 and had spent many years in and out of jail. However, he certainly deserved better than he got.

Run, Run, Run, My Runaway

Elizabeth was "not happy" to see her father when he came to the police station? Seems ODD to me; they say she was sitting in a corner with her arms crossed in front of her,and she didn't even speak to him. She was ANGRY?

This was posted on alt.truecrime just five days after Smart was found. It exemplifies the viewpoint of the most dedicated group of Smart theorists, the runaway contingent.

The basis for this theory is that Elizabeth was never abducted at all. She was fleeing an unpleasant home life like so many other teenagers. Like the family homicide devotees, the runaway theory was based on a dislike of Ed Smart. He must be a tyrant who drove his daughter away.

While Elizabeth was missing, this was the most optimistic view. At least she was alive. However, after Elizabeth was found, this group tenaciously stuck to their guns. The 30 minutes Elizabeth denied her identity, claiming to be Augustine Marshall, only fueled their conviction.

Even when she was in police custody she still refused to admit who she was. She was having the time of her life rebelling against her strict parents. That's all this was. A runaway protesting against her strict upbringing. You don't think anyone willingly plays the harp, do you?

These adherents point out that Elizabeth had plenty of opportunity to escape in the nine months she was missing. She went to parties and was often seen in public. They scoff at claims of the Stockholm syndrome or that Elizabeth was brainwashed or simply too afraid to flee her captors.

The issue they fail to address is why a teenage girl bolting from a strict home would choose to hang with a self-proclaimed prophet who forced her to wear a burka.

Other Assorted Theories

Three other theories are worth pointing out. All three came in the form of one-time postings on the Usernet

Wiccan witch Raven Blackbone predicted that Elizabeth’s body would be found floating in some reeds in a “Lake near her home.” Wrong.

Nancy Luft, who claims to receive ESP messages from “The Special Sputnik Forces” of the Russian military, said she was sent a message that a “man in a golf hat" had abducted Elizabeth. Luft advocates the poor killing the rich. She called the kidnapper “my beloved” and hoped he tortured the girl before he killed her. Just plain nuts.

Last but not least, an anonymous wag suggested that Ed Smart had pressured President George Bush to start the Iraqi war so the media would leave his daughter alone. What a waste of tax dollars.

The One Who Got It Right

Shortly after the Smart kidnapping Flora Jessop, 34, emailed the media. She suggested searchers look into a possible polygamist angle in the Smart abduction.

Jessop was someone who knew polygamists. She had fled the Fundamentalist community of Colorado City when she was sixteen. One of 28 children, the church leaders tried to force her into a polygamist marriage with a man many years older. She was having none of it.

An active opponent of polygamy, Jessop founded Help the Child Brides, an organization whose mission is to aid young women escaping multiple marriage.

Jessop’s warning was ignored. The media and police were inundated with clues to sift through and probably felt they didn’t have the time to look into one more crackpot theory.

The arrest of Mitchell and Barzee proved Jessop’s crackpot theory had hit the mark.