clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Elizabeth Smart saga timeline

June 5, 2002

Elizabeth Smart, 14, is kidnapped about 2 a.m. from her Federal Heights home. By afternoon, an intense search is under way in the foothills behind Elizabeth's house. Ed Smart, Elizabeth's father, makes an impassioned plea for his daughter's safe return.

June 6, 2002

Elizabeth Smart's face becomes familiar around Utah and the rest of country.

An army of 700 volunteers joins the search; 25 police and FBI detectives are on case.

June 7, 2002

A milkman reports having seen a suspicious car roaming the Smart neighborhood two days before the kidnapping and notes a Utah license plate number. The driver is later identified as transient Bret Michael Edmunds, 26.

June 9, 2002

Ed Smart takes a polygraph test that police say is routine, and other family members are also tested.

June 13, 2002

Police refuse comment on results of family polygraph exams.

Bret Michael Edmunds is identified as the man spotted by the milkman. Police deny Edmunds is a suspect but seek him for questioning.

June 14, 2002

Richard Ricci, who would later become the top suspect in the kidnapping, is arrested and booked into the Salt Lake County Jail on a parole violation. Police do not release his name to the public.

June 15, 2002

Police announce that the suspect is believed to have worn a tan golf cap.

June 21, 2002

Edmunds is arrested after checking into a West Virginia hospital after an apparent drug overdose.

June 24, 2002

Salt Lake City Police Chief Rick Dinse announces former Smart family handyman Richard Ricci has been interviewed several times and given a polygraph test. He is not officially declared a suspect, but Dinse said officers have questions about his whereabouts June 5.

June 26, 2002

A grand jury convenes in Salt Lake City to investigate Ricci.

July 11, 2002

Ricci is charged in 3rd District Court with burglarizing the Smarts' house.

July 24, 2002

An attempted break-in is reported at the Cottonwood Heights house of Elizabeth's cousin. Investigators would later allege Mitchell attempted to break into the house in an attempt to kidnap the young girl.

August

Elizabeth and the two people later charged with kidnapping her, Brian David Mitchell and Wanda Barzee, allegedly leave a homemade shelter in the mountains behind the Smarts' Federal Heights house and start living in downtown Salt Lake City.

Aug. 27, 2002

Ricci suffers a brain hemorrhage in his prison cell just hours after a court hearing and is put on life support at University Hospital.

Aug. 30, 2002

Ricci dies.

Sept. 27, 2002

Mitchell is arrested in Salt Lake City for shoplifting. He is eventually released without any connection being made to the Smart kidnapping.

Nov. 3, 2002

Smart family marks Elizabeth's 15th birthday with a trip to Disneyland, one of her favorite places. Elizabeth and her alleged captors are not far away, in the San Diego area.

Feb. 3, 2003

Elizabeth's family releases a police composite sketch of a transient known only as "Emmanuel" who did work at the Smarts' house prior to Elizabeth's kidnapping. The lead on Emmanuel was generated after Mary Katherine told her parents the kidnapper looked like a man who had worked on their home.

Feb. 12, 2003

Mitchell is arrested in El Cajon, Calif., after trying to break into a church. Salt Lake police have yet not issued an alert for Emmanuel, and no connection is made between Emmanuel and Mitchell. Mitchell is released from the California jail on probation.

Feb. 16, 2003

After a sketch of Emmanuel is shown on "America's Most Wanted," relatives of Brian David Mitchell step forward to say the man is really Mitchell. After the family provides more pictures in the following days, numerous Mitchell sightings are reported.

March 12, 2003

Elizabeth is found alive in Sandy. Mitchell and Barzee are arrested.

March 17, 2003

Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson announces formation of an independent panel to investigate alleged unauthorized police releases of information to the media during the Elizabeth Smart investigation.

April 27, 2003

National Enquirer issues apology to Smart family for story printed in June, accuses two Salt Lake Tribune reporters of being the source.

April, 29, 2003

Tribune reporters Michael Vigh and Kevin Cantera are fired for accepting $10,000 each for information published in the Enquirer article.

April 30 , 2003

President Bush signs the AMBER Alert bill in the Rose Garden with Elizabeth, Lois and Ed Smart watching.

May 6, 2003

Salt Lake District Attorney's Office clears Salt Lake City Police Department of leaking information to two Tribune reporters that ended up in the Enquirer.