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Elizabeth a veiled guest at Salt Lake apartment

Months after her disappearance, Elizabeth Smart lived for a short while in a downtown apartment — about a block away from Salt Lake police headquarters — as a guest of Daniel Trotta's.

Smart, who "was always veiled" and "really didn't seem scared," according to Trotta, sang hymns, listened to music, ate meals, talked about favorite classes she'd taken in school and slept overnight for nearly a week sometime in October at Oxford Place (about 300 East and 300 South).

Smart was with a man called Emmanuel and a woman whom Trotta took in. He was told they were her parents.

"I didn't think it was strange," Trotta said, adding that he figured she and the woman wore the veils as part of a religious "meditation practice."

The whole time, Trotta, 24, had no inkling she was Elizabeth Smart. It didn't even cross his mind. She almost identified herself once during a friendly conversation, but Emmanuel, the drifting preacher he'd befriended at his work, abruptly interrupted her.

"I asked her name and she was about to tell me," Trotta explained, "and Emmanuel said, 'Don't tell him your name.' He got all nervous and said, 'Daniel, just call her My Joy in Her.'"

On Tuesday — a day before she was found with Brian David Mitchell, a k a Emmanuel, and his wife, Wanda Eileen Barzee Mitchell, walking along a stretch of State Street in Sandy — Trotta realized it was indeed Smart who had spent several days in his first-level flat.

After watching an "America's Most Wanted" special on Smart, Trotta said he and a friend "started piecing things together." Mitchell's children, in their 30s, were interviewed for the television show. "This girl (Smart) was like 14, so I thought that was weird," Trotta said.

Trotta visited the Elizabeth Smart search Web site and thought the photos online resembled his guest. He then called police on Sunday night. He was contacted by homicide detectives Monday and on Tuesday his apartment was dusted and fingerprints of Smart were allegedly discovered.

"They got really excited from what they had to see," Trotta said.

Trotta met Emmanuel while working at Wild Oats, a natural foods store, a few months before Smart was abducted from her Federal Heights home in early June. Though Emmanuel didn't speak to him at first — Trotta believes it was a spiritual ritual — they still forged a friendship. Trotta would see the wanderer about once a week, and eventually Emmanuel even brought Smart and his wife into the store.

The three visitors were respectful and kind, Trotta said. He doesn't recall the women having any possessions, but Emmanuel carried a backpack. They didn't watch TV, but they seemed to enjoy the different music he'd play for them. In return, the three sang religious hymns to Trotta to show their appreciation.

"They were just really quiet," he said. "Everything was cool."

Trotta's guests slept on a mattress or on the floor. He figures they left because it was crowded with five people in a small studio.

As for Smart's appearance and behavior, Trotta thought she was just part of the family.

"She really didn't seem scared," he said. "I would've thought she could've left anytime. Who knows?"

As for their whereabouts after leaving his apartment, it's Trotta's guess that the three returned to the hills above Salt Lake City.

"I know they camped out in the mountains," he said. "He told me not to tell anyone that."


E-MAIL: jody@desnews.com; lhancock@desnews.com