Smarts’ faith helped bring daughter home

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 14, 2003

No matter how many times Elizabeth Smart’s parents appeared on television pleading for their daughter’s return, it’s likely that most people shook their heads and wondered when the teenager’s body would be found.

But the Smarts’ faith and determination to keep their daughter’s story in the media paid off on Wednesday when, miraculously, she was found on the streets of a suburb near her own home, with two people likely to be charged in her kidnapping.

We can probably never know the extent to Elizabeth’s ordeal, and her parents will be right to keep her from the media as she heals from the nine months of captivity &045; some of it spent in the canyons behind her house, within earshot of the search team shouting her name.

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On Thursday, though, it seemed everyone wanted just a glimpse of the blonde teenager who captured hearts and kept many people praying since last summer.

We can owe her recovery to those prayers and to the determination of her younger sister, Mary Katherine, who witnessed the abduction and was able finally to remember who she thought the kidnapper was: a handyman who had worked just a few hours at the house months before.

We can also owe Elizabeth’s reunion with her family to the simple power of citizens’ awareness &045; and spreading the word.

Two couples noticed the suspect, Brian Mitchell, on the streets of Salt Lake City after seeing him on &uot;America’s Most Wanted&uot; and on news reports.

Their good judgment is proof that a system like Amber Alert &045; used in many states &045; can help track down kidnapped children.

Like Elizabeth’s father, we urge Congress to pass such federal legislation.

The Smarts are lucky; their story ended so differently than most families in the same situation. But with the help of an Amber Alert system, perhaps more stories can have happy endings.