Elizabeth Smart's uncle has faulted the police investigation into her disappearance in a new book, claiming the teen would still be a kidnap victim if the family had not gotten involved.
"I don't think she would be back," Tom Smart said. "There's five or six things that had to happen, and all those things, thank God, happened, including help from the community, which raised awareness to find Elizabeth."
The book, "In Plain Sight: The Startling Truth Behind the Elizabeth Smart Investigation," went on sale Monday.
Elizabeth was allegedly kidnapped from her home in June 2002 and found nine months later in the Salt Lake suburb of Sandy, walking down a street with Brian David Mitchell and Wanda Barzee. Mitchell is accused of taking Smart into the foothills near her home to keep her as his second wife.
While grateful for the "tireless efforts" of law enforcement, Tom Smart and co-author Lee Benson claim that in August 2002, two months after Elizabeth disappeared, police were alerted by a caller who thought he had spotted Elizabeth at a library.
An officer allegedly checked out a homeless man wearing robes and his two female companions, one a young girl behind a veil -- much like the garb worn by Smart and her alleged captors the day they were found in March 2003.
"Are you Elizabeth Smart?" the officer asked the young girl, the book says.
"No, I'm Augustine Marshall," the girl replied, according to the book. Without asking for identification, the detective walked away, the authors say.
The book claims that Elizabeth -- who was once tethered to trees by shackles -- had been continuously brainwashed by her captors, making her afraid to reach out. "Mitchell pecked away at Elizabeth's sense of what was true and real. It was up to him whether she ate, whether she had shelter, whether she lived or died," the book alleges.
"Playing his role as a prophet of God, Mitchell continued to terrorize Elizabeth, painting a picture that made black into white, and white into black. Up was down and down was up. Now she was Augustine. Elizabeth Smart was dead," the authors allege.
Salt Lake City Police Chief Rick Dinse "has no intention of reading the book and has no further comment on it," said police detective Dwayne Baird.
Ed Smart, Elizabeth's father and Tom's brother, also declined comment. Elizabeth, now 17, was not interviewed for the book.
Tom Smart said the book also shows why focusing on a particular theory or suspect, such as one-time "person of interest" Richard Ricci, can be damaging. Ricci had done work for the Smarts and the investigation centered on him for some time. He ultimately died of natural causes.
Police focused on Ricci even as Mary Katherine Smart, Elizabeth's younger sister and the only witness to the abduction, said the former Smart handyman was not the man she saw come into the girls' shared room.
The sister, according to the book, said as early as October 2002 that she thought another former worker at the Smarts' house, known as Emmanuel, was the abductor.
But the book claims officers were not alerted to that, including two who had arrested Mitchell earlier for shoplifting. The officers fingerprinted Mitchell and noted in their report that he used the name "Immenuel."
It was not until February 2003 that the Smart family held a news conference, divulging the name Emmanuel and releasing a police sketch against the wishes of the department, Tom Smart said.
A state grand jury charged both Mitchell and Barzee with kidnapping and sexual assault. Barzee, 59, was ruled incompetent to stand trial. Mitchell, 51, is having his second competency hearing.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times