Elizabeth Smart featured on ‘Red Table Talk’ to weigh in Gabby Petito case, advocate for missing victims

File Photo: Gephardt Daily/Patrick Benedict

UTAH, Oct. 13, 2021 (Gephardt Daily) — Victims’ advocate Elizabeth Smart, who was kidnapped at age 14 and raped and abused for nine months before being rescued appeared as a guest Wednesday on Jada Pinkett Smith’s Facebook show “Red Table Talk.”

Now 33 and the mother of three, Smart talked about her own experience and her hopes for anyone taken against their will.

The talk was spurred by headlines about Gabby Petito, who was reported missing on Sept. 11 and found deceased eight days later, the victim of manual strangulation.

The only person of interest in the case is her boyfriend, Brian Laundrie, who disappeared from his parent’s Florida home on Sept. 14 after returning, alone, from a van trip to the mountain west and camping in the area where Petito’s body ultimately was recovered.

This photo, shot at the Monarch Gallery, in Ogden, and posted on Aug. 25, was the last image Gabby Petito posted on Instagram. Photo: Instagram/gabspetito

Smart, who was kidnapped from Salt Lake City and who still lives in Utah, talked about her own experiences with fear, hope and despair. She also talked about her hope that all missing person’s cases will be taken seriously and solved through police work and help from the public.

Pinkett Smith asked Smart how her case compared to Petito’s, and how Gabby’s story affected her.

“In Gabby’s case in particular, I mean, I was alive,” Smart said. “Yeah, and I came home, and hers tragically has not ended that way, but knowing what it’s like being on the other side, and potentially what may have happened and what may have led up to her final moments, and understanding probably a lot of what she was feeling, it’s heartbreaking.”

Smart said she did not always have hope she would survive.

“I went through some pretty dark times. I just cannot imagine, to have your child go missing, and then not feel like you’re getting the help you need to find them.”

Smart said her parents told her the worse part for them, when she was missing. was “not knowing if I was alive out there or I was dead.”

Smart said she thought of her parents’ feelings the night she kidnapped from her Federal Heights bedroom.

“Actually, when I was being taken up into the mountains that first night that I was kidnapped, I asked him if he was gonna rape and kill me. And if he was going to do that, could he please do it fairly close to my house because it was important to me that my parents find my body, and know that I hadn’t run away.”

She feels bad for parents and loved ones who don’t get closure, she said.

“When I think of Gabby Petito, and when I think of all these other victims, I feel like they deserve every bit as much to be found so that their stories have an ending.”

(Smith was kidnapped by self-proclaimed prophet Brian David Mitchell, who was traveling with his wife and follower Wanda Barzee. Mitchell remains in Federal prison. Barzee served her time and was released.)

Smart also said she was fortunate people believed she had been kidnapped, and did not question the truthfulness of her story, because not all survivors are believed.

“I think that honestly makes the difference between being able to move forward and have a healthy life, or bottling it inside you and then being on a different life trajectory.

Pinkett Smith thanked Smart for drawing attention to the fact that all victims deserve to be found, although members of marginalized societies, including minorities, don’t always get the same media attention.

Smart said since she has works as an activist and victim’s advocate, she has heard of many cases she never saw covered.

“And they’re not just like brand new stories of 10 minutes ago, they’re stories of 5, 10, 20 years ago. And if I’ve never heard that someone is missing my, like, are they any less worthy, any less of a hole left because they are gone? No. They’re somebody.”

To see the full interview, which also includes a conversation with CNN host Laura Coates and information on several missing persons cases, click this link on Facebook.

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