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Elizabeth Smart overjoyed at escape of kidnapped Cleveland women (VIDEO)

Published May 7, 2013 9:32 pm
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Elizabeth Smart said she's elated to hear about three Cleveland women who escaped Monday after they disappeared a decade ago.

"I am so overjoyed —so happy to hear another happy ending," Smart said Tuesday on ABC's "Good Morning America" (http://abcn.ws/YrUx5k ), adding that the escape is proof families and victims should not give up hope.

"We need to have constant vigilance, constantly keep our eyes open and ears open because miracles do happen."

Smart was kidnapped from her bedroom in Salt Lake City when she was 14. She was freed nine months later when she was found walking with her captor on a suburban street in March 2003.

Smart advised the Ohio women to focus on moving forward and letting go of the past. And she urged people to allow the family privacy so they can heal and "find their own pathway back to some sense of wellbeing."

She also advised the women not to let their alleged kidnappers continue to control their lives.

"He's stolen so much from them already, they deserve to be happy. And I would tell them I hope that they realize there is so much ahead of them, that they don't need to hold on to the past," Smart said. "They don't need to relive everything that's happened, because it's proof, their rescue is proof that there are good people out there."

Smart's father, Ed Smart, said in a phone interview Tuesday that the story is one of hope.

"I just couldn't be more excited and happy for these three women — three more miracles," he said. "It's hope and survival and being able to move forward. It's not a sad ending. It's a new life for them. After 10 years of captivity, I'm sure they have a lot to live for."

Asked about getting through post-abduction trauma, Ed Smart said, "Getting your daughter back is all you need. It's what I dreamed about and hoped for."

Ed Smart said he learned that he had to let go of what happened to avoid dwelling on the past.

"We've got her now, and we are living the future," he said.

Elizabeth Smart is now married and living in Park City. She is finishing a music degree at Brigham Young University. She also has been busy traveling across the country giving speeches and doing advocacy work.

Elizabeth Smart created the Elizabeth Smart Foundation, which brings awareness to predatory child crimes. And she is working on a memoir about her experiences and how she turned them into a way to advocate for children.

"Life's great," Ed Smart said. "She's doing what she wants to do. Having her do so well is an equal blessing."

In a statement released Tuesday through her publicist, Jaycee Dugard said the human spirit is resilient, and the case reaffirms that people should never give up hope.

Dugard was abducted from a South Lake Tahoe, Calif., bus stop in 1991 at the age of 11 and held captive for 18 years in a backyard, where she gave birth to two children conceived by rape.

She wrote a best-selling memoir in 2011, "A Stolen Life," which recounts her years in captivity.

Police in Cleveland said the three women who vanished a decade ago were found Monday. Authorities later arrested three brothers, ages 50 to 54. Authorities suspect the women were tied up and held at the house.






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