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Officer pleaded with girl to admit she was Elizabeth

"Elizabeth, is it you? Just tell me it's you."

Sandy Police Sgt. Victor Quezada pleaded with the teen to confirm his belief that he was standing before the girl the entire nation so badly wanted to find.

With a lowered head and tears in her eyes, the 15-year-old responded simply: "Thou sayeth."

The girl in a gray, curly wig and dirty clothing had previously denied being the missing teen, at one point telling officers: "I know who you think I am, but I'm not that girl. That Elizabeth Smart girl, that's not me."

Elizabeth was spotted walking down State Street in Sandy Wednesday afternoon with a man and woman. The three wore jeans and T-shirts and had jackets tied around their waists. Elizabeth wore sunglasses and had a T-shirt draped over the back of her head in a "makeshift veil."

Sandy police officers questioned the three on the street for about 45 minutes after responding to two citizen calls that the man resembled a street preacher wanted for questioning in connection with Elizabeth's June 5 disappearance.

Officer Karen Jones was on the scene within two minutes. When asked, the man, now known to be Brian David Mitchell, identified himself and his wife as "Peter and Juliet Marshall" and said they were traveling with their daughter, "Augustine."

When asked directly, Elizabeth said her name was "Augustine Marshall."

The trio was unable to produce photo identification or provide an address or date of birth, which raised Jones' suspicions.

After a second officer arrived, Jones left to check the names on her computer, and Troy Rasmussen began questioning the three.

"They described themselves as preachers and said they were on the Lord's mission to spread the gospel," Rasmussen said.

With his attention on Elizabeth because of her odd disguise, Rasmussen asked the girl to remove her sunglasses. She refused, saying she had just had eye surgery in San Diego.

He then asked Elizabeth why she was wearing a wig, which caused the girl to become "a little upset."

By that time, Rasmussen had already decided the girl was likely Elizabeth Smart and told Jones, who contacted Salt Lake City police.

After hearing Jones' description of the three, dispatchers in Salt Lake instructed officers to detain them and immediately sent detectives to the scene.

Two other officers soon arrived, and Elizabeth was taken aside while Jones stayed with Mitchell and his wife, Wanda Ilene Barzee.

For the first time, Rasmussen addressed the girl by "Elizabeth" rather than "Augustine." She did not react to the name change.

"I said, 'You know there's a lot of people looking for you,' " Rasmussen said. "I said, 'Your family's really concerned. If you're in trouble, we're here to help you.' "

The girl lowered her head, and tears welled up in her eyes, he said. "And I knew for sure that that's who it was."

Still, she would not acknowledge that she was, in fact, the missing teen.

"She denied being Elizabeth the entire time we were out there," Quezada said. "We kept telling her, 'Do this for your family, do this for yourself. Do the right thing, just tell us who you are. We know you're Elizabeth Smart.' "

Finally, Elizabeth affirmed her identity with the Bible phrase.

"Her eyes were welling up with tears at the time, and you could tell she basically gave up the charade," Quezada said.

Throughout the questioning, Jones said Mitchell and Barzee sat and quietly quoted scripture. There was never an attempt to escape, and the couple did not resist when officers handcuffed them and placed them in separate police cars for transportation to the police station.

Mitchell, 49, and Barzee, 57, are being held in the Salt Lake County Jail for investigation of aggravated kidnapping.

Elizabeth was also handcuffed and taken to the Sandy police station, where she was questioned and reunited with her family.

The officers have not seen the teen again, nor have they spoken to any members of the Smart family. Still, they are pleased to know they had a part in bringing Elizabeth home after nine long months.

"Police officers see a lot of this kind of stuff day in and day out, but we're still human beings," Quezada said. "It was a nice warm feeling . . . when she finally said it was her. It was a nice warm feeling inside saying, 'You're going to go home tonight.' "


E-MAIL: awelling@desnews.com