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Elizabeth Smart found alive in Utah, 20 miles from her home

SANDY, Utah - A teen-age girl who was kidnapped from her home in Salt Lake City, Utah, last June was found Wednesday afternoon about 20 miles from her home.

Ed Smart talks about his daughter's return, 6 p.m., March 12, 2003.

Press conference on Elizabeth Smart, 5 p.m. March 12, 2003.

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Elizabeth Smart, 15, was found in Sandy, Utah, with a person described as a drifter and former handyman for the Smart family known as Emmanuel Mitchell, whose real name is Brian David Mitchell. She was also with a woman named Wanda Eileen Barzze.

A woman called police, saying she saw a girl resembling Smart in the area. The caller said Smart and a couple with her were acting suspiciously. Another woman also called authorities, saying she thought she had spotted Emmanuel.

Police stopped Smart and the couple. The couple was arrested and being held at the Sandy police station.

Smart was put in police custody at the Salt Lake city police station, where her parents and siblings came to meet her. She was released later in the evening. Her appearance was reportedly changed. She gained weight and was wearing a wig.

"Miracles do exist," said the girl's uncle, Tom Smart.

Tom Smart told MSNBC he talked to his brother, Elizabeth's dad, and he was overwhelmed with emotion.

Mitchell's stepson said his father lived by begging and believes he is a prophet who needs to preach to the homeless. Mark Thompson also told the Associated Press that Mitchell was capable of kidnapping a child.

Last month, Smart's parents announced a new reward for information and asked for help in their search for the handyman Emmanuel, who worked at the Smart home for only one day. At that time they released a sketch of him. The Smarts said Elizabeth's sister had come to them recently to say Emmanuel bore some resemblance to the man who took Elizabeth from their room at gunpoint.

Elizabeth was 14 when she was seized early on the morning of June 5 in front of her 9-year-old sister Mary Katharine by a gunman who may have gotten into the house by cutting a window screen near the back door. As the younger sister pretended to be asleep, the gunman threatened to hurt Elizabeth if she didn't keep quiet.

The top potential suspect in the kidnapping, Richard Albert Ricci, a handyman who once worked in the Smart household, died Aug. 30 after suffering a cerebral hemorrhage while in prison on a parole violation. He said he had nothing to do with the kidnapping.

Investigators have said they believe he was involved but may not have acted alone.

Smart's mother, Lois Smart, has said she met Emmanuel in downtown Salt Lake City when he asked for money. She gave him $5 and hired him to help her husband work on the roof of their home in November 2001. He worked for about five hours and the family didn't see him again, she said.

Mitchell was a downtown fixture, frequently seen wearing white pants, a robe-like tunic and a brimless white hat that resembles a puffy turban or baker's toque. One of the photos provided to law enforcement shows him in such a hat.

He often was seen panhandling and preaching to the homeless in downtown Salt Lake City before Smart's disappearance last June. He and Barzze sold their belongings and started living on the streets in the late 1980s.

Mitchell's family said he often spent time in a teepee in the mountains outside Salt Lake City.

The information on Smart's whereabouts first came from KSL-TV.

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