Weird and Wonderful


The Life, Times, Wit & Wisdom of
Brian David Mitchell

aka Immanuel David Isaiah



Before his metamorphosis into mad Mormon street prophet Immanuel David Isaiah, collector of plural wives, David Brian Mitchell, to all appearances, led a fairly straight-laced LDS life. Closer examination reveals the cracks that led to one of the nation's most notorious abductions. It is a story that is pure Utah to its core.

Mitchell was born Oct. 18, 1953 in Salt Lake City. Like all six of the Mitchell children, he was delivered in the parents' small home just south of Parley's canyon.

Strange Folks

Neighbors remember the Mitchells as a frugal, little weird, but devout Mormon family. They were a vegetarian bunch, being served only meals of whole-wheat bread and steamed vegetables. No Happy Meals for these guys.


It seems father Shirl had some strange ideas about child rearing. He has claimed his son was a "maladjusted misfit," but his own child rearing practices probably had much to do with his son's peccadilloes.

Shirl introduced 8-year-old Mitchell to the world of sex by the showing the lad explicit pictures from a medical journal. Dad also employed his particular brand of education on 12 year-old Mitchell by dropping him off in Rose Park and making him find his own way home. Now that is parenting.

Like his son, dad was also an author. Shirl penned "a rambling 900-page manifesto" detailing his own philosophy and religious beliefs. So, I leave it to you to decide how much of dear-old Dad's loving care contributed to Mitchell's latter bizarre behavior.

Just a Normal Guy?

Despite his rather unconventional upbringing, Mitchell did participate in normal kid activities. He was a cub scouts and played little league. However, at 16 some of the bizarre quirks that would manifest in his later life appeared. He spent time in juvey hall for exposing himself. Yikes.

Finding him difficult to manage, his parents packed Mitchell off to live with granny. He started using drugs and dropped out of high school. A typical Utah upbringing.

At 19, he left the state and married his first wife, Karen Minor. They had two children, Travis and Angela. Things started to go sour with the marriage. In an ugly divorce, Mitchell got custody of his kids by claiming Karen was a degenerate drug user. When the remarried Karen sued for custody of the children, Mitchell fled to Utah to avoid turning over the tykes.

In 1980 Mitchell cleaned up his life. He rededicated himself to the LDS Church and even worked as a janitor at the Beehive House in Temple Square.

In 1981 he married Debbie, who he had met at a W. Cleon Skousen lecture. She had three children from a previous marriage, and they soon produced two more. So, along with Travis and Angela, that made seven children living under the Mitchell roof. The strain proved too much for the couple. Angela and Travis were placed in foster homes. Angela claims that his wife pressured Mitchell into this move. Debbie denies this.

Somewhere in their marriage, Debbie claims the outwardly normal Mitchell began weirding out. According to her allegations, Mitchell became abusive. He controlled what she ate and forbid her to wear bright colors. She says he also put dead mice in her stove to frighten her and once brought home several books on Satan. He claimed he was trying to get to know his enemy.

Mitchell, of course, told a different story. According to divorce papers, he claimed Debbie was cruel to Travis and Angela, flew into violent rages and tried to discredit him in the eyes of his children.

The Weirdness Begins

About ten months after they separated, Debbie came forth with allegations that Mitchell had sexually abused their 3-year-old son. She became concerned when her son began acting sexually towards his sister. When questioned, he said he learned this behavior from dad. She reported the disturbing revelation to a case worker. The DFS worker could find no direct evidence of abuse, but said because the child was preoccupied with sex to an abnormal degree for one so young. She advised Mitchell be allowed visitation only when Debbie was present.

Not too long after that, one of Debbie's daughters claimed Mitchell sexually abused her for nearly four years, starting when the girl was eight. Debbie says she reported this abuse to church authorities in 1985. She says LDS officials doubted the daughter's story and advised Debbie against filing charges. The church says nothing about this and claims it is against policy to discuss sexual abuse matters about members seeking counseling.

Mitchell Finds A Soul Mate

On Nov. 29, 1985, the day his divorce was final with Debbie, Mitchell married Wanda Barzee. It was a match made in the Celestial Kingdom.

So began one of the strangest chapters of weird Utah history. He was 32, she was 40. Mitchell worked as die cutter for O.C. Tanner and was a member in good standing with the LDS church. To the casual observer Mitchell appeared the perfect Mormon, but many did not find him quite right.

Barzee began complaining her husband's behavior became increasingly strange. He would fly into rages. Her children claimed he had killed a pet rabbit and served it to them for dinner. Despite his quirks Barzee was entranced with her hubby and stuck with her man.


He worked at the LDS temple, portraying Satan in temple rituals. The fervor with which he threw himself into his role dismayed church officials. Mitchell claims the elders, while praising the vigor he threw into his role, asked him to tone it down a tad.

A Prophet Is Born

His religious beliefs began to fly more and more out of whack. In the 1990s he stopped going to church. Even more alarming, he quit forking over church tithing. Mitchell renounced mainstream Mormonism and began viewing himself as a prophet of God.

Around 1995, he donned a robe, changed his name to Immanuel David Isaiah, and began preaching the gospel to street folk. He sold his belongs, including car and piano, for $2000 and traveled the country with Barzee proselytizing to the homeless. The latter-day prophet supported himself by panhandling.

Some time in the late 1990s the couple returned to Salt Lake City. They became fixtures in downtown SLC, where they could be seen panhandling quarters.

"Boy, I Could Sure Use Another Wife"

In November 2001, Lois Smart hired Mitchell to help with some roofing at her Federal Heights home. Seven months later the church excommunicated Mitchell. That same week Elizabeth Smart was abducted. Thus began the nine-month saga that captivated the nation. Mitchell and his two "wives" attended parties, hung out at park drum circles, and scarfed salads in Midvale in public while the whole nation searched for his newest "convert." Somewhere in all this madness he found time to write and print his 17-page gospel, "The Book of David."

March 12, 2003 the party ended with arrest of Mitchell and Barzee, and the return of the brainwashed Smart to her worried family. Thus the world would learn of David Brian Mitchell's strange odyssey, an epic that could only be concocted in the strange environs of Utah.

The courts are still undecided about the sanity of Mitchell and his paramour. Protracted court cases will decided whether Mitchell and Barzee are competent to stand trial for their crimes. We await with baited breath.


Brian David Mitchell
in his own words

From the "The Book of Immanuel David Isaiah."

Job Description

Listen together and open your ears, for it is I, the lord god of all the earth, the creator of all things that speaketh unto you. Yea, even Jesus Christ speaking by the voice of my servant whent I have called and chosen to be a light and a covenant to the world in these last days. I have called him and given him a name to be had in remembrance before me... Immanuel David Isaiah.

On Politics

And the people of the earth stumble and grope in the darkness at noonday, and the humble followers of Jesus Christ suffer and mourn under the heavy hand of oppression and murder and secret combinations, which do by their secret crafts and arts, their secret governments and societies, with their false traditions and churches subject the whole earth to the iron yoke of bondage, misery and death...

On Patriotism

And this nation of the United States of America seeks in concert with the rest to bring the whole earth into complete subjection, and the iron yoke of bondage and servitude and misery and death. And all this for power and gain and popularity and to satisfy all the lusts of the flesh.

On The Current State of the Mormon Church

And the wolves at the gate pretend to the same power and authority that Ezra walked in, but it is taken from them, and I gave the keys of priesthood power and authority that Ezra held into thy hands, Oh Immanuel...And I, the Lord God, hid up my true servant Immanuel in the wilderness and he is in their midst and they know him not.

His Modest Goals

And this is my covenant with thee, Immanuel, my friend, I shall make thee a great nation, and thou shalt be king and a lawgiver unto my people, for my righteousness shall be in thee and in thy seed after thee unto endless generations.

On The Wife's Duties

Therefore, Hephzibah Eladuh Isaiah, thou art called and chosen to be a helpmeet unto my servant Immanuel David Isaiah, and to be his wise counselor and best friend, and to be submissive and obedient unto they husband in all righteousness, and to be a comfort and a strength and a companion to thy husband in every time of trial and affliction unto the end.

How To Convince Your Wife To Let You See Other Chicks

And lo, thou shalt be healed and made whole every whit, and thine own womb shall be opened, and thou shalt bring forth a son to sit upon the throne of his father David. And thou shalt take into thy heart and home seven times seven sisters, to love and care for, forty-nine precious jewels in thy crown, and thou art the jubilee of them all, first and last, for all are given unto thee for thy glory and honor and exaltation, even as thou art give unto them, for thou art a Queen, Oh Hephzibah!

Advice For The Modern Mormon

Woe unto ye, scribes and Pharisees, ye doctors and lawyers and priests, who wear the habiliments of the priesthood, even as ravening wolves in sheeps clothing, hypocrites! Ye are a generation of vipers, and how can ye escape the damnation of hell, for ye give fine speeches but your works are the works of darkness. Did I not testify unto you by the mouth of my latter-day prophet Ezra, that the whole church was under condemnation because they did not receive the new and ever lasting covenant, even the Book of Mormon.

What is in Store For Those Deluded Souls That Don't Follow His Advice

And whosoever will receive me, will receive my servant whom I have sent. And unto all those who mock thee and hate thee and will not receive my words from thy mouth, I will bring down upon their heads great sorrow and shame and anguish of soul, and if they repent not, I will destroy them from off the face of the earth.

His Cool New Name

...even the name Immanuel David Isaiah, which name being interpreted means: God with us - Beloved of God - The Lord is salvation - signifying the deliverance that shall come to my people by my might hands in these last days.

Mitchell's Suggested Reading List

•  The Holy Bible - King James Version

•  The Book of Mormon - translated by Joseph Smith

•  The inspired words of the prophets of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

•  "The Golden Seven Plus One" by Dr. C. Samuel West

•  "Embraced By The Light" by Betty J. Eadie

•  "The Literary Message of Isaiah" by Avarahem Gileadi

•  "The Final Quest" by Rick Joyner