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Elizabeth Smart -- She's home!

After nine months of sleeping in the wilds and on the floors of strangers' homes, Elizabeth Smart crawled into her own bed to sleep Wednesday night — the same bed from which she was snatched at knife-point nine months ago.

"She wanted to do that," said Missy Larsen, spokeswoman for the Smart family.

But before calling it a day, the 15-year-old shared hugs and jokes with her parents, siblings and extended family. She also went through the volumes of e-mails from well-wishers around the world who sent their prayers of hope when Elizabeth was taken June 5.

"She was completely overwhelmed. She didn't know there was a big search," said Larsen, who added that she believes Elizabeth's captors kept her away from news reports about the kidnapping. "I don't think (the family) talked a lot about the details. They were so thrilled to have her back, it was more of a catching-up time."

The family was to hold a news conference at 11 a.m. Thursday, after Deseret News press deadlines.

Elizabeth was discovered by Sandy police about 1 p.m. Wednesday after motorists spotted her walking along State Street near 10200 South with Brian David Mitchell and Wanda Ilene Barzee. The trio were dressed in odd clothing, and the women's faces were veiled.

Both Mitchell, 49, and Barzee, 57, were arrested and remained in the Salt Lake County Jail Thursday for investigation of aggravated kidnapping.

But the happy ending comes with numerous questions about the police investigation, which some say focused too heavily on one suspect — Richard Ricci — and overlooked others, including Mitchell.

"I think that they discounted Mary Katherine, obviously. And by October, I think they were pretty entrenched in Richard Ricci," Elizabeth's uncle, Tom Smart, said Thursday.

Members of the Smart family have criticized the police for apparently dragging their feet in coming forward with information about Mitchell. The sole eyewitness to Elizabeth's alleged abduction, Mary Katherine Smart, told her parents in October she believed Mitchell, whom she knew only as "Emmanuel," was the man in her bedroom that night.

The Smarts hired a freelance sketch artist to create a drawing of the drifter based on Mary Katherine's information, Tom Smart said, but it was not released publicly until February at the Smarts' insistence.

Those criticisms and others about political infighting among agencies could bring about an internal investigation of the police department.

Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson met with city attorneys Thursday morning to discuss such an investigation, mayoral spokesman Joshua Ewing said.

"He will be looking into the matter further," Ewing said, declining to comment in more detail. A statement was to be released this afternoon or sometime Friday, he said.

On news programs Thursday morning, Anderson said he didn't understand the police department's reticence in making photographs of Mitchell more available to the public.

Former Salt Lake police detective and lead Smart investigator Cory Lyman said Thursday he could not comment on details of the investigation, adding that anyone who suggested there were problems, or that police agencies failed to work together to solve the case, were "out in the night."

"They are full of baloney," said Lyman, now the chief of police in Ketchum, Idaho. "The cooperation nationwide has just been incredible."

Police were continuing their investigation Thursday, working with both state and federal prosecutors to evaluate the possible charges against Mitchell and Barzee. At the earliest, those charges might be filed by Monday, Salt Lake County Deputy District Attorney Kent Morgan said.

"(Mitchell) is clearly liable for the abduction of Elizabeth," Morgan said. "(Barzee) appears to have been a party to that."

Questions about the couple's religious beliefs and their motives for allegedly abducting and keeping the teenager continued to be asked Thursday. As are questions about why Elizabeth failed to seek an avenue to flee her captors, even when she was hidden in Dry Creek Canyon in the foothills above her family's home. Elizabeth has said she could hear searchers calling her name.

Search coordinator Larry Holmstrom said more than 100 people spent at least two days in the canyon and did find three sets of footprints in a old mine tunnel at the top of the canyon. Copies of those prints were turned over to police.

Looking back, Holmstrom said, "I believe there was a chance of a match."


E-mail: jdobner@desnews.com; awelling@desnews.com