Elizabeth Smart, the Utah woman who was abducted when she was 14 and held captive for nine months, on Friday said she was “thrilled” that Wisconsin teen Jayme Closs has been found alive after missing for almost three months.
“What a miracle!!! Jayme Closs has been found!!!! I’m so thrilled to hear the news,” Smart, 31, wrote on Instagram a day after Jayme, 13, was discovered about 70 miles from her hometown of Barron, where her parents were killed inside their house on Oct. 15.
She was found Thursday after approaching a woman walking her dog, saying she’d been held against her will.
“What has been such a heart wrenching tragedy finally has some happiness in the story,” added Smart, who was taken at knifepoint by Brian David Mitchell from her Salt Lake City home on June 5, 2002.
She was rescued nine months later on a street in Sandy, Utah, with the help of two witnesses who recognized her abductors – Mitchell and his wife, Wanda Barzee — from an episode of “America’s Most Wanted.”
Barzee, who agreed to plead guilty to helping in the kidnapping, was sentenced in 2010 to 15 years in federal prison. Her husband was convicted of kidnapping and sexual assault, and was sentenced in 2011 to two life terms in the slammer.
Smart, who testified that she was raped daily during her ordeal, has gone on to work as an activist and advocate for missing persons.
“I’m praying for Jayme and all her family that they can have a joyous reunion and as the rest of the country celebrates alongside this happy occasion we all are mindful to give the family their space and privacy on their road to finding a new sense of normal and moving forward,” Smart wrote on Instagram.
She added: “I have no doubt Jayme and her family will forever appreciate the efforts and prayers of the many thousands of people who contributed and kept them in their thoughts and prayers!
“I hope we may all continue to support and embrace Jayme as she reclaims her life and comes to terms with the reality of her situation,” she continued.
“What a brave, strong, and powerful survivor!!!! No matter what may unfold in her story let’s all try to remember that this young woman has SURVIVED and whatever other details may surface the most important will still remain that she is alive.
“May God bless you Jayme Closs and may we all continue to search for every missing child,” she said.