NBC News   |  October 04, 2013

'Elizabeth's Story' part 1

Fourteen-year-old Elizabeth Smart wakes up to find a knife at her neck and a strange man ordering her to come with him.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> evening, everyone. i'm meredith vieira . you probably remember the story of elizabeth smart , the young girl that was abducted and presumed dead by many before miraculously turning up alive. but until now, she has never told the full story of what happened to her. over the years i've interviewed some remarkable people who have overcome all kinds of obstacles, but not many who could match the bravery and, yes, brilliance of elizabeth smart , who confronted an unthinkable challenge as a child.

>> standing there holding on to me. i mean, i was so scared.

>> she was just 14 years old, a terrified little girl . violently ripped from her own home and her own bed in the middle of the night .

>> sheer terror just doesn't even begin to describe how i felt.

>> her kidnapping shocked the nation.

>> investigators are still searching today for elizabeth smart .

>> elizabeth , we love you. we think of you every minute. and i know we're close. you're going to come home, elizabeth .

>> but after nine months of desperate searching and fears that she was dead, it was her unbelievable rescue that truly stunned the world.

>> we're here to announce officially that we have found elizabeth smart .

>> it's a miracle.

>> if it seemed like a miracle, it wasn't one she wanted to talk about. the details of her kidnap and ordeal were so awful that for ten years elizabeth smart has fought to keep them private. now, in an exclusive interview, she is talking, and for the first time ever, she allows cameras to follow her back to the remote mountainside camp that became her prison.

>> he grabbed me and he said, i will kill you if you make a noise. i will kill whoever comes up here to find you.

>> what does that do to a child?

>> i don't think there's anything worse you can do to a child.

>> tonight, the mormon girl whose innocence was so brutally stolen reveals how she turned terror into triumph. summoning the resolve to survive and even outwit her captors. she reveals it all in her new book "my story."

>> when i decided to write it i knew i wanted it to be real, to go all the way.

>> why now?

>> i hear so many terrible store peps one in six girls, one in six boys will be abused.

>> important that you put out the details of that abuse so people realize they're not alone.

>> absolutely.

>> it all goes back to the late spring of 2002 . elizabeth , who lived in an upscale neighborhood in salt lake city , utah, with her parents, ed and lois and five siblings, was just a typical 14-year-old girl eagerly anticipating high school .

>> all the different clubs and sports teams and getting my driver's license and dating. i mean, i was ready.

>> in a city famous for its mormon roots, elizabeth felt shelter and protected. she had her large family , her faith and her beloved harp. could you have ever imagined a scenario where someone would take you from your home?

>> oh, no. my biggest nightmare -- i don't know if you ever saw the movie "the never-ending story."

>> sure.

>> that wolf/monster thing, oh, it scared me so bad. gave me nightmares for years. i used to think, okay, if a monster ever came into my room, what would i do?

>> and you knew it was make believe.

>> yeah.

>> who could have ever imagined that make believe would become terrifying reality, but on june 4th , 2002 , it did. elizabeth 's mom lois and her younger sister mary katherine say it started as a relaxing family evening. as usual the two sisters climbed into bed together.

>> they had stayed up late and they were reading, which book?

>> " ella enchanted ."

>> elizabeth was reading it out to mary katherine .

>> was that a typical night her reading to you?

>> yep.

>> but just after they fell asleep, around 2:00 a.m ., elizabeth awoke abruptly. someone was there in her bedroom.

>> i heard a voice, i have a knife at your neck, don't make a sound. get up and come with me. i could feel something cold and sharp lying across my neck.

>> even in the darkness, elizabeth immediately grasped the gravity of what was happening.

>> i felt immediately awake. i could feel or sense my sister lying in bed next to me. she was asleep. i was so scared, just adrenaline shooting through my body. and then he started to pull me out of bed. and he said, if you make a sound, i will kill you. i will kill your family. come with me.

>> neither she nor her captor knew it, but as he pulled elizabeth from the bed, 9-year-old mary katherine had woken up. and now she was cowering under the covers frozen in fear.

>> he realizes that i'm awake, maybe he'll take me as well and then my family will never know what happened to us.

>> as mary katherine trembled in silence, the kidnapper forced elizabeth out of the bedroom into the hall way. when you were walking down the hall way knowing that there were people in the house, you must have had an urge to scream or to do something?

>> didn't know if he'd gone through and hurt them or killed them and if there was someone still alive in my house. i certainly didn't want to put them in danger.

>> but elizabeth was in danger. the kidnapper was taking her outside into the darkness . he takes you outside and he starts leading you away from the house.

>> yes. i remember my heart just pounding, pounding, pounding, pounding.