Editor's note: Lee Benson is collaborating with Elizabeth Smart's uncles, Tom Smart and David Smart, on a book about the Elizabeth Smart kidnapping.

Today marks exactly one year since kidnapping victim Elizabeth Smart was rescued after a nine-month disappearance. Cory Lyman, for one, admits he will spend today reflecting on "the case."

But, then, there aren't many days the former task force commander of the Elizabeth Smart investigation doesn't think about it.

"The hard part for me is to think about what she went through and that we didn't end it sooner," says Lyman, who for more than six months was in charge of the Salt Lake Police Department investigation, until late January 2003 when he left to become police chief in Ketchum, Idaho. Less than two months later, Elizabeth was discovered in Sandy with homeless preachers Brian Mitchell and Wanda Barzee, who have been charged with her kidnapping.

Because he wasn't there when Elizabeth was found and isn't hampered by court gag orders, Lyman can speak more freely than others who worked the investigation about what happened during the long months the Salt Lake teenager was missing. That includes speaking candidly about what went wrong and acknowledging that law enforcement, for the most part, ignored significant clues due to a dogged yet misguided belief that a man police arrested on other charges nine days into the case was the kidnapper. Even though Richard Ricci was never an official suspect, and even though he died two months into his incarceration (some would say because of his incarceration), the party line was that Ricci did it.

Entreaties from the Smart family, Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson, the news media and even from a few officers inside the investigation, failed to significantly sway those in charge.

The day Elizabeth was found, Salt Lake police detectives were hard at work trying to posthumously convict Ricci.


Does this history concern Cory Lyman? The answer is an unequivocal "Yes." For a year now, he has made it something of a personal crusade to learn and build, rather than be embarrassed by, the past. When he isn't keeping the peace in Ketchum and neighboring Sun Valley, he does his best to educate police officers about lessons learned in the Elizabeth Smart case. He has given speeches on the topic to a variety of groups. Last fall, he even took one of Elizabeth's uncles, David Smart, with him to speak at a law enforcement convention in New Jersey.

The gist of Cory's message is partnership. "We need to involve everyone we can," he says. "We need to listen more. We talk a lot about community policing, and we do it well with drug problems, noise problems, neighborhood problems, things like that. But we've kind of stayed to ourselves in homicides, robberies and abductions. What I think we've learned (from the Elizabeth Smart case) is that the same principles apply."

"What I find refreshing about Cory," says David Smart, "is he really wants to learn from what happened. At the New Jersey convention, he told me, 'Tell them everything. Don't hold anything back.' He wants the full story to be told."

The one-two punch of Lyman-Smart was so popular that the New Jersey Association of Police Chiefs invited the two to pair up as keynote speakers at its convention this June in Atlantic City.

"If I have to look hard at the past and try to improve the way I do business, that's part of being a professional," says Cory. "This was a happy ending, and we need to make the most of it. Because we don't get that many."


Lee Benson's column runs Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Please send e-mail to benson@desnews.com and faxes to 801-237-2527.