EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (FOX 9) - In 2002, like Jayme Closs, Elizabeth Smart was targeted and kidnapped from her own home. She spent nine months in the grips of Brian David Mitchell and Wanda Barzee, but she survived. Smart told FOX 9 cases like Jayme's are exactly why you never stop looking for any missing child.
"What an incredibly strong amazing young woman she is," said Smart. "She did everything right. She survived. I mean, as a victim and someone who's been kidnapped, I've had many questions over the years beginning with the words, 'Why didn't you...?' 'Why didn't you do this, why didn't you do that?' And for a long time, I didn't hear the place of genuine curiosity they were coming from. I actually heard them as 'You should have run,' 'You should have yelled,' 'You should have done more,' 'It's your fault.'"
Smart says Jayme's recovery will be a process. Not only will she be grieving the loss of her parents, but she'll be regaining her independence after being controlled for three months.
"And for me, it was little things at first," said Smart. "It was being able to decide when I woke up and what I ate for breakfast because while I was kidnapped, I didn't get to decide what I ate or when I ate or if I got to eat at all or when I got to have a drink of water or when I got to sleep. I didn't have any control over those decisions at all, and I think it's very empowering to be able to come home and all of a sudden be able to regain some kind of control over your life."
While Jayme just begins to work on getting her life back, Smart has a message for her: that this experience does not define her and that her future is big and bright.
"Ultimately, you define who you are by the decisions and the choices you make," said Smart. You choose your destiny. You choose who you are. And I'd want her to know that."