NBC News   |  October 04, 2013

'Elizabeth's Story' part 5

Elizabeth feels a growing strength and finds an opportunity to finally outwit her captors. But will it work? Meanwhile, her younger sister Mary Katherine has a startling revelation about the kidnapping.

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

>>> as months passed with no no idea she was only a few miles from home held captive on a but with winter approaching, her kidnappers decided it was time to leave their secluded camp.

>> ultimately they decided, well, we'll move to california and let's go to the library and look at maps and decide what part of california we should go to. that's what brought us to the library.

>> once again they climbed down the mountain. for elizabeth , it was another opportunity to be noticed. and they were going to the most public of places, the library in downtown salt lake city . dressed in a filthy robe, headdress and veil, elizabeth knew she stood out.

>> we did get a lot of stares, we did get a lot of people walking on the opposite side of the street just to get past us. we looked scary.

>> this time someone thought the girl behind the veil looked like elizabeth smart and called the police. within minutes detective john richey was walking up to elizabeth in the library.

>> and i asked her to remove her veil so that i could verify that this was or was not elizabeth smart .

>> but mitchell quickly intervened.

>> and said this is my daughter, and we wear these robes and these veils for religious purpose. just calm and cool. just talking like you and i are talking.

>> what was barzee doing at that point?

>> she had just clamped down on my leg like a vise communicating to me, don't you dare even think about it.

>> petrified, she silently obeyed and the detective concluded the caller had made a mistake. this couldn't be elizabeth smart .

>> her demeanor was not consistent with what i expected, and this man's statements were cogent, they were convincing, and everything he said made sense.

>> i remember watching that police officer be fully convinced that i wasn't elizabeth smart and turn around and walk out of the library, and that was almost just as bad as being kidnapped as being raped as being chained up.

>> but did a part of you think, did it cross your mind, this is a police officer , it's a detective, he can arrest these people? this was the perfect scenario in some ways if you wanted --

>> as a logical adult, that would be the first thing you would think of. but i was 14-year-old girl, i'd been through so much. from the kidnapping, through everything else. he had followed through with it all. he had always won.

>> it was a low point for elizabeth . and then a month later, it seemed she'd run out of hope entirely. they boarded a bus for san diego . who would recognize her there? 750 miles from home. what did you think your fate was going to be at that point?

>> i don't know. i didn't know. i felt like i was doomed to be with them until they died.

>> now it had been four months since her abduction. but what elizabeth didn't know was that there was a major development back at home. suddenly her baby sister remembered exactly who'd been in their bedroom.

>> i was waiting for my dad to come and tuck me into bed. i was thinking of possibly like who could it be? emmanuel just popped into my head.

>> emmanuel , the man who had once done some handy work at the smart home . the family wanted to release this sketch of him, but the police didn't. at the time they were focusing on another man who once worked at the smart house . how frustrating was that to you?

>> very.

>> almost like they didn't really care what mary katherine had to say.

>> yes. that's correct. when they said they weren't going to do it, i thought ed was going to lose it.

>> so from the police's perspective, why start out on this wild goose chase because a 9-year-old said i know who it is.

>> that's exactly what happened.

>> for elizabeth that meant more months as mitchell 's prisoner. in california she marked her 15th birthday, then thanksgiving and christmas. this photo was taken at a holiday meal for homeless people , wither had face covered, no one recognized her. and by february, 2003 , eight months into her abduction, elizabeth feared she wouldn't last much longer. mitchell had left the women alone for days without food or water.

>> so i began to thank god for my life, my family and the blessings that i had received in my short life. when i had finished my prayer, i lay still and waited to die. i remember thinking this is too ironic, you know? i survived a kidnapping, ich survived all these different things only to die of starvation. this cannot happen to me. this just -- this would be too cruel.

>> elizabeth says that when mitchell finally returned he said he'd been thrown into jail for breaking into a church. his court hearing was videotaped. he said he managed to get free by fooling the judge into feeling sorry for him. that's another story where people will look here's a week that this guy was gone and either people will say, why didn't you take that opportunity or was she identifying with these people?

>> they weren't in that moment, they weren't there with me. they don't know what it was like.

>> but when mitchell told her he wanted to move again, this time all the way to the east coast , elizabeth panicked.

>> nobody's going to find me. i have to find a way to get back to utah . that is my only chance at being found.

>> that's when elizabeth tapped into all the strength she'd been gathering during her month as mitchell 's prisoner. seeing an opportunity to outwit him, she told mitchell she had a feeling they were supposed to go back to utah . she begged him to pray to god.

>> make it be his idea. you are his servant, you're his prophet, you're practically his best friend, could you please ask him.

>> it worked. mitchell said god was indeed telling him to go back to utah . so elizabeth made another bold move suggesting they mithitchhike secretly hoping one into recognize her.

>> you learn to be maybe at the feet of those masters, devious.

>> it was a means to an end . i thought that was my greatest chance i had at getting home, at being rescued.

>> the timing couldn't have been better. back in salt lake , elizabeth 's father decided it was finally time to reveal that sketch of emmanuel .

>> now we've got breaking news.

>> the television show "america's most wanted" also featured the sketch.

>> members of his own family began to call in after it was on "america's most wanted."

>> people saying i know that guy.

>> soon brian david mitchell 's photos were broadcast across the country. now law enforcement and the public knew who emmanuel really