On October 9, 2013, 14-year-old Abby Hernandez was walking home from school in her hometown of Conway, New Hampshire, when she was abducted by a man named Nathaniel Kibby.
Hernandez was held captive for nine months, during which time she underwent various forms of abuse, including sexual assault. Tonight, Hernandez, who is now 19, will speak to 20/20 for the first time since being freed in July 2014.
Here’s what you need to know about her story.
1. Her Captor Called Himself ‘Master’
Kibby called himself Hernandez’s “master”.
She also says that she was repeatedly sexually assaulted by him.
Still, Hernandez never lost hope while in captivity. She says, “I feel like hope– even when you feel like you’ve lost everything– hope is something that nobody can take away from you. Just keep that and it will keep you going.”
She adds on, “I remember I never said ‘amen’ in my mind. I never wanted to end my prayers because I didn’t want God to leave me… I just really wanted to live.”
Over the duration of her kidnapping, Hernandez was only allowed interaction with her parents once. She sent a letter to her mother postmarked October 23, but it did not arrive until November 6, according to WMUR.
2. She Was Forced Into Wearing a Shock Collar
Kibby was forced into wearing a shock collar during her time in captivity. “He said, ‘You know, I’m thinking of finding something a little more humane for you to keep you quiet,'” Hernandez tells ABC. “He said, ‘I’m thinking of a shock collar.’ You know, that like dogs wear.”
Hernandez then recalls Kibby placing the collar around her neck. “And he told me, ‘OK, try and scream.’ And — I just slowly started to raise my voice. And then, it shocked me. So, he’s like, ‘OK, now you know what it feels like.'”
Kibby threatened Hernandez in other ways. He warned her that if the door to the unit she was being held in ever opened, the room would catch fire.
3. She Was Held Hostage in a Storage Container
For nine months, Hernandez was held in a soundproof shipping container just 30 miles north of Conway.
According to the New York Post, friends and neighbors described Kibby as a “gun-loving anti-government zealot.”
One neighbor, Debbie Demers, told NECN of Kibby, “He’s been called crazy Nate. I don’t know too much about him, he’s pretty much a loner. But I always told the girls stay away from that trailer… He likes his guns and it was a little shooting range back there.”
4. She Made Attempts to Negotiate with Her Captor
After being kidnapped, Abby made numerous attempts to negotiate with Kibby. “I remember thinking to myself, ‘Okay, I got to work with this guy.’ I said [to him], ‘I don’t judge you for this. If you let me go, I won’t tell anybody about this,’” Abby recalled to ABC.
Her attempts to negotiate were, unfortunately, unsuccessful. She was taken to his property where she remained for nine months.
Abby’s release was abrupt. As she explains it, they were driving one night, and Kibby said “get out”. She then got out, at which point he demanded his hat back. “So I took it off, threw it in the car, slammed the door and he drove off. Just like that. That was it.” She then walked home. She describes seeing her mother as a “beautiful moment”.
5. Kibby Was Sentenced to 45 to 90 Years in Prison
Kibby’s arrest record dates back to 1998, according to WMUR, when he was first charge with assault.
In March 2014, he was arrested and charged with criminal trespass and assault for an incident involving another woman. According to WMUR, he had followed a Conway, New Hampshire, woman home after a car accident. He then “pushed her to the ground in her driveway after she ordered him to stop taking pictures of her car.”
In July, the assault charge was dropped. Tammy Shackford, the alleged victim, is quoted by WMUR as saying, “When I heard it on the news, I was beside myself… He is not a normal person. He is not right.”
It was just days later that Hernandez helped police locate Kibby, and he was charged with her kidnapping. Hernandez claims she learned Kibby’s name from a cookbook he had given her– then name Nate Kibby had been written on the inside.
On May 26, 2016, Kibby pleaded guilty to seven charges, including kidnapping, felonious aggravated sexual assault, and criminal threatening. He was sentenced to 45 to 90 years in prison.