SLC PD says Brian David Mitchell evidence destroyed

Posted at 9:23 PM, Jul 22, 2013
and last updated 2013-07-22 23:38:06-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- In response to concerns from a relative of Elizabeth Smart's kidnapper, the Salt Lake City Police Department said it destroyed much of the personal property that belonged to Brian David Mitchell.

FOX 13 submitted a public records request for a list of much of the personal property in the case. In response, Salt Lake City police said "miscellaneous clothing" taken from Mitchell at the time of his arrest in 2003 was given to the FBI. Other items, such as a DNA sample, a fingerprint record and some of his writings were marked "DESTROYED."

"According to our records, a lot of the property was disposed of," said Det. Veronica Montoya, a police spokeswoman. "As far as a family member maybe having their documents in our system, we were not able to find anything like that."

Rebecca Woodridge, Mitchell's stepdaughter, claims she was given power of attorney for his personal effects shortly after he was sentenced to life in federal prison for the 2002 abduction of Elizabeth Smart. She said she has grown increasingly frustrated with police who initially claimed that some of his property was given to "a niece."

"I don't believe that it's just been destroyed or misplaced," Woodridge told FOX 13. "Things like that don't get misplaced. There seem to be articles missing that on the street could be worth money. It's just odd to me what's missing."

Woodridge said the items she has obtained from the FBI and Utah State Hospital have been put away for safekeeping. She insists she has no plans to sell them, but worries that someone who may have come into possession of the items could be looking to make a quick buck off the notoriety of the kidnapping case.

Mitchell was convicted of kidnapping Elizabeth Smart from her bedroom at knifepoint. She was held captive for nine months by the homeless street preacher and his wife, Wanda Barzee. At her trial, Smart testified he made her a "wife" and raped her almost daily. Mitchell, Barzee and Smart were spotted walking down a Sandy street in 2003 -- leading to the girl's rescue.

The list of evidence provided to FOX 13 shows that a lot of Elizabeth Smart's personal effects were given to her family. Some items, like a burlap bag, some jewelry, and a vial containing an "amber colored liquid with dropper" were released to someone whose name has been redacted.

Montoya said police policy is to contact people to claim evidence after a case has been adjudicated and appeals have been exhausted. Each month, the Salt Lake City Police Department's Evidence Unit posts online items that have been unclaimed and will be destroyed (it does not list specific cases).

Montoya said police records did not show any power of attorney for Mitchell's effects had ever been documented; Woodridge insists it was served on police shortly after his sentencing.

Woodridge said she is getting in touch with Mitchell's attorneys and is considering a lawsuit of her own.

"If it's not turned over and things were destroyed without letting me know prior... there may be," she said. "We'll have to wait and see. But I'm not giving up. They could at least be accountable and answer and show me more proof."