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Younger sister of Jessica Wright target of alleged Mitchell break-in

Younger sister of Jessica Wright target of alleged Mitchell break-in

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - An alleged kidnapping plot by Elizabeth Smart's abductors was aimed not at her 18-year-old cousin Jessica Wright, but at Jessica's younger sister, the girls' father told The Associated Press Thursday.

Prosecutors have charged David Brian Mitchell with attempted aggravated kidnapping and allege that he cut the screen of Jessica Wright's bedroom window during the break-in July 24.

But they now confirm what father Steven Wright said he has known since that night: Any connection to the Smarts would come through Wright's younger daughter, a favorite playmate of Elizabeth's who is her age, 15.

Police and prosecutors have intimated that Jessica Wright was Mitchell's intended victim. On Thursday, Salt Lake County District Attorney David Yocom acknowledged the discrepancy.

"We have alleged there was a minor child between 14 and 18," Yocom said. "Because the press got it wrong doesn't mean that we have to go out and correct it."

Yocom has said it appeared Mitchell tried to kidnap Wright's daughter to be his plural wife. Mitchell claims in his manifesto that polygamy is commanded by God.

Elizabeth led Mitchell and his wife and alleged co-kidnapper Wanda Barzee to the Wright home, Yocom said.

"They received the name from Elizabeth and the location," he said March 18, the day his office filed charges against Mitchell and Barzee.

Jessica Wright and her younger sister shared a bedroom before Elizabeth disappeared, Steven Wright said. The Wrights later remodeled their home, and the younger girl moved to another room.

On July 24, the Wrights were out. When they returned home that evening, Steven Wright found that a two-story ladder they had used for the remodeling had been moved around on their property. Wright put the ladder in the garage and thought little else about it, he said.

Around 10 p.m., Wright said, he brought their Labrador retriever inside because its incessant and frantic barking was loud enough to wake up neighbors. He and his wife went to bed around 11 p.m.

Four hours later, Jessica Wright awoke because a thin object sticking through her window blinds had knocked over a picture on the desk in front of the window. Steven Wright met his daughter in the hall as she ran from the bedroom.

He forced the dog outside - "we had to push the dog out the door," he said - and called police.

Wright spent the rest of the night talking to FBI agents, Salt Lake county sheriff's deputies and Salt Lake City police officers.

"They had my wife in tears," Wright said. "They were telling me that I staged it."

Wright said he took a polygraph test.

"It was hell. It was more than hell," Wright said. "It was hell with the breaking in. It was hell with the cops accusing me. It was hell trying to find out who did this."

Salt Lake City Police Chief Rick Dinse visited the crime scene that night, but said Thursday he didn't remember talking with Steven Wright directly. Dinse would not confirm or deny any aspect of Wright's account.

FBI spokesman George Dougherty also would not comment on the FBI's investigation into the Wright burglary, but he said agents behaved as they would have for a routine investigation.

"When that occurred, just like with any other type of lead, we following it up like any other investigation," Dougherty said.

Found with Mitchell and Barzee on March 12, Elizabeth is slowly resuming a normal routine with visits from friends and a trip to the mall, said family spokesman Chris Thomas.

With only a month or so left in the school year, Elizabeth won't be returning to school this year, he said. However, she will be tutored over the summer and likely will attend East High School in the fall.

Thomas said she's always excelled in school and is worried about falling behind in her studies. She also is playing her harp.

On Sunday, she attended her local Mormon ward for church service.

"She's doing amazingly well. She's just like any other 15-year-old girl," Thomas said.

Meanwhile, the family continues to accept offers from movie and television producers as well as book publishers, Thomas said. The Smarts will decide in the next few weeks which of the more than 100 proposed projects to sign on with.

"It comes down to an opportunity to tell the story or watch someone do an unauthorized version," Thomas said.


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