Abby Hernandez was getting ready for her 15th birthday when, on Oct. 9, 2013, she was reportedly abducted by Nathaniel Kibby while on her way home from school in Conway, New Hampshire.
Transported some 30 miles north and kept captive for nine months — during which time she was abused, drugged and sexually assaulted — Abby was freed by Kibby in July 2014 when he feared authorities would close in on him in connection with an unrelated counterfeiting investigation.
(This account of the case is based on reporting by CNN, the Boston Globe, local TV station WMUR and the New Hampshire Union Leader.)
Kibby was taken into custody about a week after releasing Abby, and the teen helped point law enforcement to him. She first learned his name, she said, thanks to a cookbook he gave her while she was being held.
Held behind bars for approximately two years, Kibby pleaded guilty in May 2016 to multiple charges, including kidnapping, second-degree assault and sexual assault, for which he was sentenced to 45 to 90 years in prison.
While Abby has spoken to reporters since she returned home, she will detail her ordeal — and her survival — for the first time on Friday’s season premiere of 20/20, on ABC.
In an exclusive preview of the interview, Abby, now 19, recalls one way that Kibby, who called himself her “master,” had devised to maintain control of her.
“He said, ‘You know, I’m thinking of finding something a little more humane for you to keep you quiet,’ ” she says in the clip. “He said, ‘I’m thinking of a shock collar.’ ”
Abby continues: “I remember he put it on me. And he told me, ‘Okay, try and scream.’ And — I just slowly started to raise my voice. And then it shocked me. So, he’s like, ‘Okay, now you know what it feels like.’ ”
Despite the violence she faced, Abby endured, even addressing Kibby directly in court during his guilty plea.
“I want you to know I appreciate my freedom because of you … I never look at the sunshine the same way,” she said. “I never think about fresh air the same way. So I also want to thank you for giving me my freedom back.”
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Abby said she knew that “some people might call you [Kibby] a monster, but I’ve always looked at you as human. And I want you to know that even though life became a lot harder after that … I still forgive you.”
Speaking with a local newspaper after she was released in 2014, Abby said she was recovering, if slowly: “I’m taking it a little bit at a time, but I’m feeling a lot better every day.”
20/20 airs Friday (10 p.m. ET) on ABC.
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