Inside Story- How Abby Hernandez Survived Nine Months In Captivity

Abigail Hernandez, 14, was abducted while walking home from school and held in a windowless storage container just 30 miles from her home in New Hampshire.

Abby Hernandez, a freshman at Kennett High School in North Conway, New Hampshire, was a strong student and talented athlete. She was only a few days shy of turning 15 when she vanished on Oct. 9, 2013 — and would be held captive in a storage container for nine months before she could escape.

The hunt for Abby Hernandez was one of the most extensive in New Hampshire history. As speculation and wild rumors flooded the once-peaceful town, her face appeared on missing persons posters plastered on every block. Several seasons passed before she miraculously appeared on her doorstep in July 2014.

Hernandez had been held captive just 30 miles outside of town, much to the surprise of her mother and investigators. The adolescent had been sexually abused by her captor, Nathaniel Kibby, but she also duped him into friendship in the hopes that their bond would one day help her escape — a move dramatized in Lifetime’s Girl in the Shed: The Kidnapping of Abby Hernandez, starring Ben Savage as Kibby.

“If I were to write a textbook on how victims should deal with abductions… the first chapter would be about Abby,” former FBI profiler Brad Garrett said. “It’s always about getting close to the bad guy.”

How Abby Hernandez Disappeared

Abigail Hernandez was born on October 12, 1998, in Manchester, New Hampshire, and had a perfectly normal childhood until October 2013. Adults who knew her remarked on her athletic prowess as a teen, and her Kennett High School classmates described her as a kind, positive, and joyful person.

That disposition would be brutally taken away from her shortly after she entered ninth grade. Hernandez walked home from her new school and vanished after graduating from middle school and enjoying the summer of 2013.

Nathaniel Kibby, he sentenced to 45 to 90 years in prison.

Hernandez, who lived with her mother Zenya and sister Sarah, never arrived home later than agreed. Her mother filed a missing person’s report after she failed to return home by 7 p.m. on Oct. 9, 2013. Her family and police feared the worst because she had no domestic problems at home and no reason to flee.

Hernandez had already been kidnapped, so their instincts were correct. Nathaniel Kibby, her captor, had mostly spent his days as a petty criminal who printed counterfeit money in his trailer. He’d suddenly transformed into a kidnapper. And with Abby in his clutches, he’d soon do much worse.

Inside Abby Hernandez’s Brutal Kidnapping

Nathaniel Kibby held Abby Hernandez at gunpoint in his vehicle on October 9, 2013, and threatened to slit her throat if she didn’t comply. He handcuffed her and wrapped a jacket around her head, breaking her cellphone to prevent the police from tracking its GPS location. Hernandez managed to peer out the window, but when Kibby caught her, he tased her.

Kibby’s house in Gorham, New Hampshire, was 30 miles away when the car came to a halt. He led Hernandez into a dimly lit room with a “Don’t Tread On Me” sign hung on the wall. He taped her eyes shut, wrapped her head in a t-shirt, and strapped on a motorcycle helmet. Then, for the first time, he raped her.

The red cargo container where Hernandez was kept captive.

“I remember thinking to myself, ‘Okay, I’m going to have to work with this guy,'” Hernandez recalled. “‘I don’t judge you for this,’ I said. If you let me go, I promise not to tell anyone…’ ‘Look, you don’t seem like a bad person,’ I told him. Everyone makes mistakes, after all… If you let me go, I promise not to tell anyone.'”

Her attempts to soften Kibby were initially futile. He threw her into a storage container in his backyard, where she was subjected to daily abuse and sexual assault. She remembered omitting “amen” from her prayers because she didn’t want God to leave me.

“I just wanted to live,” she explained.

Kibby eventually let Abby Hernandez into his trailer to assist him in the printing of his counterfeit money. However, the tide was not turning as he soon demanded that she call him “Master” and presented her with a new torture tool.

“‘You know, I’m thinking of doing something a little more humane for you to keep you quiet,’ he said.” ‘I’m considering a shock collar,’ he said. I recall him putting it on me. ‘All right, try to scream,’ he said. And — I gradually began to raise my voice. “And then it hit me,” Hernandez said.

“So he’s like, ‘Okay, now you know how it feels.'”

How The Shed Girl Finally Got Out

He did, however, begin to bond with Abby Hernandez over the course of her nine-month relationship with Nathaniel Kibby. He also gave Abby Hernandez some reading material in the form of a cookbook. Hernandez didn’t know the name of her abductor at the time, but it was written on the inside cover.

Hernandez, Abby Returning Home

“‘Who is Nate Kibby?” I asked. Hernandez remembered. “And he just kind of sighed and asked, ‘How do you know my name?'”

Nate Kibby received an urgent phone call in July 2014 from Lauren Munday, a woman he met on the internet. Munday told him she’d been arrested for passing fake $50 bills and had told cops Kibby had printed them.

Kibby was terrified, and he quickly began liquidating everything in his house, including Abby Hernandez. On July 20, 2014, he drove the 15-year-old back to North Conway and dropped her off just steps away from where she had been abducted, promising her not to give him up. Hernandez walked the final mile back to her mother’s house.

Abby Hernandez was captured on her parents’ home security camera walking up to their front door

“I remember looking up and laughing and just being so happy,” Hernandez recalled. “Oh my goodness, this really happened. I’m a free man. I never imagined it would happen to me, but now I’m free.”

Where Is She Now

Hernandez told police that her kidnapper’s identity was unknown. According to court documents released in November 2014, she only gave police a sketch of her abductor and withheld his name from everyone except her mother, Zenya.

Hernandez “had confided in her, telling her that she had not provided law enforcement with all of the necessary information and, moreover, that she knew who her captor was.” On July 27, 2014, Zenya Hernandez provided detectives with Kibby’s name, resulting in his arrest and a search of his property.

Kibby was initially charged with kidnapping and held on a $1 million bond before pleading guilty to six other felonies, including second-degree assault and sexual assault.

While he was sentenced to 45 to 90 years in prison, Hernandez says she now takes the time to fully appreciate everything life has to offer.

“Every time I go outside now, I try to appreciate the sunlight and fresh air,” Hernandez said. “It went in my lungs very differently. “I try not to take that for granted.”

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