Elizabeth Smart was abducted from her Salt Lake City home at knifepoint in 2002 by Brian David Mitchell. She was forced deep into the woods and was tied to a tree for several months.
Later, she was forced to move around with Mitchell and his wife Wanda Barzee, including to several homeless camps, but mostly the then 14-year-old was living off the grid with her captors.
Similarly, Maury County Sheriff Bucky Rowland told News 2 that he believes Thomas is living off the grid somewhere with her 50-year-old teacher Tad Cummins.PHOTOS: AMBER Alert for Elizabeth Thomas
“You just can’t even imagine what’s going through a young girl’s head at this point at time,” said Edward Smart via Skype. “Regardless of what Elizabeth Thomas’s situation might have started out to be it could be very different at this point.”
Smart says his daughter’s captor manipulated the teen and is worried Elizabeth Thomas is being manipulated by Tad Cummins.
“In our Elizabeth’s case they got her to this mindset where she believed that if she did anything they didn’t want her to do that they would come and kill her family,” he told News 2. “Manipulation is what controls them.”
After nine months, Elizabeth Smart was finally spotted out in public with Mitchell and Barzee. Someone called police and she was rescued.
But Smart says the public has to know who they are looking for and he believes the media is integral in helping.
“I just don’t think you can hope to find your child without the media and the coverage because without them you cannot engage the public and get them to help you find her,” he said. “It’s going to come down to the public seeing something, seeing her or seeing him.”
Smart and her father started the Elizabeth Smart Foundation, which helps prevent and stop predatory crimes. She has since married and has one child with another on the way.
Edward Smart believes there is hope for Thomas and, with the right tools, she can move on with her life as well.