The Story of Abby Hernandez: Abducted Teen Returns Home Alive After 9 Months in Captivity

Fatim Hemraj

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Abigail "Abby" HernandezTrue Case Files

On October 12, 2013, 14-year-old Abigail “Abby” Hernandez hugged her boyfriend Jimmy goodbye after school. The teen lovebirds usually took the bus together but on that particular day, Abby decided to walk to her North Conway home where she lived with her mom and older sister.

The young couple was texting back-and-forth when a man in a blue pickup truck suddenly pulled over next to Abby and offered her a ride. She texted Jimmy a heart emoji, opened the passenger side door, and got in.

It was the last time he would hear from her for 9 months.

Her Boyfriend’s Father Was Suspected

The man told Abby he needed to stop at Home Depot first. It was the exact moment she knew she had made a big mistake, and that her life was in danger. She unbuckled her seatbelt in an effort to make a run for it when the man suddenly pulled out a gun and threatened to shoot her.

Three days before her 15th birthday, Abby was gagged, blindfolded, and taken to a home 30 miles away in Gorham. There, she was locked inside a storage container sitting on the strange man’s yard.

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The shipping container where Abby Hernandez was held captive for 9 monthsThe Sun

Abby’s mom, Zenya, reported her daughter missing when she didn’t come home after school. One of the largest searches in New Hampshire’s history was initiated, and before long the FBI was involved. Abby’s face was plastered on flyers, magnets, and even pens in an effort to bring attention to her case.

Jimmy was utterly heartbroken and blamed himself for taking the bus rather than walking Abby home. The teen was questioned by the FBI twice and at one point, he was even asked whether he thought his father, James, could be responsible for Abby’s disappearance simply because she spent a lot of time in their home. But James himself was grief-stricken over Abby’s disappearance and pleaded with the public for her safe return.

Unfortunately, There were eye-witnesses, no evidence, and no leads. Detectives were baffled, and the case quickly went cold.

She Was Forced to Call Him “Master”

A camera recorded every move Abby made and she was told that if she tried to escape, the container would catch on fire and she would burn alive. For 9 long months, Abby was drugged, beaten, and sexually assaulted by her captor who she was forced to call, “Master.”

You know, I’m thinking of finding something a little more humane for you to keep you quiet,” he told her one day. Soon after, Abby had a shock collar strapped around her neck that brought a jolt of pain through her entire body every time she opened her mouth.

Abby realized her only chance of survival was to reason with her abductor, “I don’t judge you for this. If you let me go, I won’t tell anybody,” she promised. Instead, he allowed her to write a letter to her parents. When he discovered Abby had hidden clues in the letter, he ripped it up and attacked her with a stun gun.

Abby spent months trying to bond with her captor. Once she gained his trust, he freed her from the storage container, gave her books to read, and allowed her to help him with his latest project: creating counterfeit bills in his home.

A Phone Call Led to Abby’s Freedom

Who’s Nate Kibby?” Abby asked the man one day as she glanced at an inscription inside a cookbook. “How do you know my name?” he responded. Abby knew what her abductor looked like, and his name. All she needed now was a chance.

And then, she finally got one.

A woman named Lauren Munday called Nate and told him she had been caught with a counterfeit bill at Walmart. It was a bill he had given her. Furious, she told Nate she had turned him in to the police and that they were coming for him.

Panicked, he forced Abby into his truck, made her promise not to reveal his identity, and released her on the street from where he had abducted her 9 months earlier.

Stunned, Abby walked 1 mile to her home and into her mother’s arms.

34-year-old Nathanial Kibby was arrested at his home a week later. He was charged with 205 counts of various crimes from kidnapping to sexual assault. To avoid a trial, he pleaded guilty to 7 counts.

He received a sentence of 45 to 90 years in prison.

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Nathaniel KibbyThe Florida-Times Union
Some people might call you a monster, but I’ve always looked at you as human…Even though life became a lot harder after that, I still forgive you. I want you to know I appreciate my freedom because of you. I never look at sunshine the same way. I never think about fresh air the same way. So I want to thank you for giving me my freedom back.” — victim impact statement by Abigail Hernandez

Sources: Kidnapping survivor Abby Hernandez reveals how she stayed alive in captivity and never lost hope — ABC News (go.com), Nathaniel Kibby, the man accused behind 15-year-old Abigail Hernandez’ disappearance, was held on $1 million bail Tuesday — The Florida Times-Union — Jacksonville, FL, Abby Hernandez reaches out to former boyfriend (wcvb.com), Abby Hernandez Reveals What She Survived During Kidnapping | PEOPLE.com, Abby Hernandez Now: How Was She Found? Where is She Today? (thecinemaholic.com)

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