Monday, November 22, 2010

Finding the Missing - Doing the Right Thing Requires Taking Chances

I have been following the details that have been coming to light concerning Elizabeth Smart and her kidnapping. She was the 14-year-old Utah girl who was allegedly kidnapped by a man named Brian David Mitchell. His accomplice was his wife, Wanda Barzee. During a "ceremony" directly after her abduction from her home, Elizabeth was "sealed" (married) to Mitchell by Barzee in a bizarre ritual, police say. It was nine months after she was abducted, charges alleged, that she was finally rescued. By her account, during her nine months of hell she was raped, made to live like a wife of Mitchell and pretty much brainwashed.

The part that gets me the most angry is that there were several times that people have testified that they had seen the trio walking here or there and something was out of place. But they never followed their instinct or acted on their weird vibes. One particular instance was a time that the trio were at a local library and someone called the police stating that they though Elizabeth Smart may be in there.

"Former Salt Lake City homicide detective Jon Richey was sent to investigate. Although he considered the lead 'a long shot,' he asked, repeatedly, to lift the young woman's veil. But Mitchell said it violated their religious beliefs for anyone but the young woman's husband to see her face. Richey testified that it would have violated her civil rights to lift the veil if the story about her religious beliefs was true. And Mitchell's calm demeanor didn't set off any alarms for him. He said that when he learned about six months later that the girl he'd tried to question was Smart, it left him 'traumatized.' "

"I don't see anything else I could have done," Richey told reporters after his testimony. "It's difficult for me, but I live with that, and there's nothing I would have done differently." As seen at smart.near.miss/index.html?section=cnn_latest.

This sickens me. Not because of the detective's actions, but because he is right. Had he forced the girl to remove her veil and if it had not been Elizabeth Smart, God only knows what kind of a lawsuit would have been filed against him and the department he worked for. Of course if he would have went ahead and made her remove the veil and it was in fact her, he would have been hailed a hero. I personally don't care what religion you are, if someone thinks the young female who is with you may have been abducted, I think you should have to suck it up and remove the veil. First of all, our laws that govern this nation should not bend around religious rules. Secondly, I disagree with religion that forces women to cover their faces and walk behind the men in the first place. Period.

Most of the women I know would tell a man to shove it if he told her to walk behind him. There's something to be said about a nation that doesn't allow men to beat their women for showing a little ankle. But I don't want to bash on religions, I merely want to point out that had Richey followed his heart and gut, that girl would've been rescued a whole lot sooner. As a nation of tolerance and law, I still think it's our obligation to use a little common sense and stand between good and evil. Even if it means that we may end up being wrong, we need to look in that mirror at the end of the day and know that we did all we could.

Joe Snider is a Navy veteran and writes "A Local Voice" every other Monday. He can be contacted at

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Screw the law. I would have risked the lawsuit, called for backup(which the cop should have had to begin with) & ordered Mitchell to remove the veil. Finding a kidnapped child is much more important than respecting someone's religious beliefs.