Maybe Elizabeth Smart wouldn't have spent "nine months in hell" if her mother hadn't burned the potatoes.
Maybe she wouldn't have been stolen in the night if she and her father had closed the kitchen window and set the alarm as they made their nightly rounds after family prayers.
And maybe her ordeal wouldn't have lasted so long if somebody - anybody - had just spoken up after seeing a veiled teenager who didn't seem to have a will of her own.
There are so many maybes in Elizabeth Smart's story.
Witnesses who testified for the prosecution at the federal trial of the homeless street preacher accused of kidnapping the 14-year-old Utah teen told a heartbreaking story of what ifs and near misses.
There was the little sister who lay, petrified, for two hours in bed before mustering the courage to run to her parents' bedroom and tell them a man had taken Elizabeth. (She would not link the stranger to the family's hired handyman until months later.)
There was the cop who didn't lift Smart's veil at the public library; the passersby who noticed an odd-looking trio walking the streets in their religious robes but didn't inquire further; the message for help Elizabeth scrawled in the restroom stall. And there were people who encountered the girl and her abductor at parties or invited them into their homes while Smart's poster was plastered on storefronts and her alleged abduction dominated headlines.
And there was Smart herself, who told the jury how she became angry at herself when fear forced her into silence.