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15 Horrifying Kidnap Stories That’ll Keep Us Awake At Night

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15 Horrifying Kidnap Stories That’ll Keep Us Awake At Night

What would you do if your child was abducted? Any parent will tell you that it would be the most horrific experience they could imagine. Parents get nervous when their small children are out of sight for a few moments. But to know that someone with evil intent has them in their possession would be a form of mental torture we would not wish on our enemies.

To use another human being as a pawn in a game to gather riches to yourself is a level of selfishness few humans possess. Unfortunately, though, people like that do exist and the stories of their nefarious deeds are more than any of us would like to think of. Rape, torture, murder and huge ransoms; all these things can be the results of a kidnapping or abduction. The fiends who desire them are mental defectives of the lowest order, exchanging another person’s suffering for their own pleasure or enrichment. Below are some of these stories, culled from over a century of crimes so heinous that they rarely get talked about. Some were quite famous when they happened, others are little known. In addition, names have been changed in several instances as we have no desire to give more fame to the evil people who committed these acts, nor open old wounds for their victims.

So, from cretins seeking millions of dollars to snobs seeking proof of being superhuman, here are fifteen instances of gruesome kidnappings and their unfortunate and often fatal consequences.

15. She Spent 41 Days In A Bathroom

When Kendra Wilson left for school on a Friday morning in September of 1998, the weather was pleasant and she was in a good mood. Her dad was going to pick her up that afternoon and they were going to go to a local store to buy her some winter clothes for school. But when 13-year-old Kendra walked out of the school’s side door, she saw her grandmother on her mother’s side sitting in a car across the street, beckoning to Kendra to come over.

Kendra didn’t like her mom’s parents much. She thought they were strange. But she went to the car and her grandmother told her that her father had been in an accident and she should get in right away. Of course, the frightened girl jumped in and they drove off. But her father was actually in front of the school waiting for his daughter. Kendra’s grandmother instead took her to a house Kendra had never seen before and said her dad was inside. The girl ran inside where her grandfather waited. He grabbed her, dragged her to a bathroom and locked the door. The two had cooked up an outlandish scheme to blame Kendra’s father for her disappearance so their daughter could get full custody, even though Kendra didn’t want that. The girl screamed, of course, but no one could hear her. They fed her poorly and made her sleep in the bathtub. She had nothing to do to keep her busy. When she would cry loudly, her grandfather would come in and shake her by her arms until she promised to stop. This went on for over a month. Luckily for the girl, someone told Kendra’s mother–who was not in on the plan–that they saw the grandmother entering and leaving that house. Kendra’s mom went to it, discovered to her horror what her parents were up to, and called the police. Kendra was freed but attended therapy sessions for several years after the event.

14. Two Years Of Hell

In 1967, two men abducted 16-year-old Michelle Musgrove from her mom’s apartment in Kansas City. She was taken to a house less than three miles from her home and held in a basement which was fixed up like an apartment. Initially, during the day she was treated well, given decent food and allowed to come out of the basement once in a while. But soon, her captors–who were part of an underground religious sect–began keeping her in the basement permanently. Soon, while she tried to sleep at night, they played painfully loud music with strange lyrics that they had written and performed themselves. They were trying to indoctrinate her into their cult by the strange messaging which was recorded within their music. She could barely ever sleep. Michelle lived like this from March 1967 until January 1969. She was finally rescued by police when one of the abductors’ friends broke down and told police where she was. She was permanently affected by the lack of sleep, becoming uncommunicative and spending years in an institution. Her abductors were convicted of kidnapping and torture and sentenced to 12 years each at a Missouri State Penitentiary.

13. Barbara Mackie

This is everyone’s worst nightmare. In 1968, Barbara Mackie was abducted from a motel in Decatur, Georgia at gunpoint. Her attackers entered her room by pretending to be police and chloroformed her. They drove her to a remote location where they buried her in a fiberglass-reinforced box. It had air vents and an electric light and was not buried very deep, but when she awoke she had no way to know that. Imagine the terror of waking up in what amounts to a lighted coffin.

Barbara’s father was a wealthy real estate magnate and paid a $500,000 ransom to the kidnappers to rescue his daughter. Because of some botched attempts at the ransom drop and recovery, Mackie spent over three days underground. The FBI eventually found the burial site and rescued the girl. She was dehydrated and terrified but otherwise in good condition and suffered no permanent effects. The perpetrators were both arrested and sentenced to jail terms, but released early on parole.

12. Stolen Away On A Boat

Most kidnapping stories are somewhat similar in that they involve the victim being held somewhere in a confined space, where they are in some way restrained from escaping. Jose Garcia did not have to be restrained because the entirety of his captivity was spent floating off the coast of Florida in June of 2001. Jose was 11 years old when one of his father’s employees abducted him and placed him on a fishing vessel in order to use the boy to blackmail his boss.

It was never ascertained how long the child was captive since his abductor, Juan Maribel Ortega of Miami was discovered and killed himself as police closed in. What is known is that young Jose was on the boat by himself for long periods at a time, as Ortega would use a smaller craft to go ashore and leave the child with barely enough food and water to survive. He was often seasick and the dehydration which he suffered nearly killed him. When he was finally discovered, he was clinging to life in the hold of the ship, amidst large amounts of his own vomit and body wastes.

11. Jackie Davis-Holmes

Three men grabbed Jackie Davis-Holmes as she was walking to her car in a dark parking lot one night in July of 1979. They shoved her into a car and took off, driving two hundred miles to a rented house in Pulaski, TN. There she was tied with ropes and tape for several weeks, only being released when the men, brothers Jamaar and Cleon Oakes and their friend Russell Thornton, took turns raping her. The 28-year-old girl’s hellish existence was made worse by the malnourishment and dehydration she suffered at the hands of her captors. It’s clear they did not intend for her to survive but a fortunate break brought her torment to an end. The house where she was held was fairly isolated, but a man who lived near it was training his hunting dogs in an adjacent field when one of the dogs ran off. He had to chase it into the backyard of the house where Jackie was held. There he thought he heard a woman scream and some violent commotion in the house. A phone call to police lead to the arrest of the men and ultimately to Jackie’s survival.

10. Lost

A man abducted 7-year-old Avery Duckworth while his family was on vacation in Yellowstone National Park in 1978. The family was camping near the park when Avery wandered off to find some other children he had seen playing down the road. The kidnapper, 48-year-old Stanley Everett Gomes, was driving his pickup truck around the campground looking for just such an opportunity. He grabbed the child and threw him in the cab, taking off at great speed. He drove into a forested area, winding down back trails so his truck could not be followed.

The passenger door was welded shut so Avery, who Gomes did not otherwise restrain, could not open it. But the truck had a sliding rear window. Avery waited until he saw Gomes staring at the side view mirror and then opened the window and scurried out into the bed of the moving vehicle. Gomes grabbed for him but couldn’t reach him, and when he slammed on the brakes Avery jumped out and ran into the woods. The boy was able to lose Gomes pretty easily and never saw him again. But he was then lost in hundreds and hundreds of acres of bear-infested woods with no food or water. He wandered for three or more days (he wasn’t sure) eating pine needles and drinking the little dew he could get off of morning leaves. Some hikers later found him and returned the boy to his parents. Gomes was later arrested for a different crime and confessed to this abduction.

9. Three Months Of Abuse

In 1995, Jessyca Mullenberg, 13, voluntarily went on a trip with a neighbor, a 38-year-old teacher named Steve Oliver. With the pretense of taking her to a writer’s conference where her work could be read by agents, he drove for many miles. He waited until she fell asleep in the car and when she woke she was tied up. In her own words here is what he told her:

“Here’s how it’s going to be,” Oliver said in a low, terrifying voice. “You are no longer Jessyca. Your name is Cindy Johnson. My name is David Johnson. I’m your father. If anyone asks why you look so sad, it’s because your mother and twin brother recently died in a car accident.”

He flew her to Houston and they stayed in several hotels. Almost every day, Oliver sexually abused the young girl. This went on for 101 days. Jessyca began to actually forget who she really was and thoughts of escape left her. His plan was working.

Thankfully, the show America’s Most Wanted aired an episode which included Jessyca’s story and a local resident of the hotel called the show and her nightmare was soon ended.

8. Blinded

In the early 60’s, a despicable rapist got a bright idea. He would abduct his victims, rape them repeatedly, and then blind them so they could never identify him. Stewart Ashland, a bank teller from Minneapolis, got the idea while driving by a few vacant homes in a neighborhood not far from his. They were just being built and had not been sold. That meant, he could hold his victims in the basement indefinitely and when he released them, they couldn’t tell where they were.

Rosa Lavanga was his last victim. He waited for her outside her office where he knew she worked late. Acting as if his battery was dead, he lured her close to his vehicle and viciously knocked her unconscious. When she came to, she was tied to the furnace in the basement of one of those homes and her eyes had been burned closed with some kind of acid. She was raped for several days and thought she would never make it out alive. Instead, she was found by a real estate agent who was walking through the property before showing it to prospective buyers. Ashland was eventually arrested when people in the area identified him as someone they had repeatedly seen driving in the neighborhood.

7. A King’s Ransom

Abducting the children of wealthy parents for ransom is hardly a new idea. But this episode is so unusual, the perpetrators–who have never been caught–seemed to do it out of pure evil rather than greed.

Rodney and Elizabeth Kendall were owners of an incredibly successful string of bars and restaurants in the suburbs of Chicago. They had accrued a few million dollars of net worth over 20 years of hard work. One night, in August of 2000, their 12-year-old son Matthew disappeared. A ransom note was found and later a few phone calls laid out the kidnappers’ demands. $250,000,000. That’s not a typo. 250. Million. The FBI was even astounded. Most kidnappers research their victims very well and don’t ask for a sum which the victims can’t pay. The sum these villains were asking for was so far beyond that, no one had any idea how to get Matthew back. The frantic Kendall’s did not have assets anywhere near what it would take to borrow the money. Efforts were made on their behalf but came up far short.

Very little communication was had between the two parties. Every other week or so another cryptic call would come, still demanding the outrageous sum and leave no hints as to where the boy was nor if he was alive. Eventually, the calls stopped and Matthew was never heard from again. In 2012, a construction crew stumbled upon the remains of a young boy in a shallow grave which were identified later as those of Matthew Kendall.

6. Kept In A Crypt

Admittedly, this story may be apocryphal. It seems so much like an urban legend that it may be just that. Reportedly, a cemetery employee kept a young boy locked in a mausoleum in rural Whitehall, Illinois for close to five years in the 1890’s. Lemuel Hudson was a boy who lived near the cemetery and had become friendly with its caretaker, a white-haired man named Porter. Porter allegedly abducted the boy and locked him inside the mausoleum of a deceased local resident. There he kept him as a part son, part pet for several years, letting him out only at night and only with a collared leash on his neck. Porter was indeed a suspect in the boy’s disappearance but the police never thought to search inside the crypts. This story was related by Hudson himself to a newspaper in his adopted hometown of Gary, Indiana in the 1920’s but little proof or reference to the incident was ever located.

5. Haunted By The Smell Of Garlic

Most of the stories here happened in the United States. Here’s one so disturbing from England, we had to include it. Anna Ruston was kidnapped at age 15 and locked in a tiny room where she basically lived for 13 years. Her kidnapper, a man named Mailk, abused her nearly every day and got her pregnant at least four times. She later learned he would sell the babies after she gave birth to finance his disgusting life as a sex slave. She got a bit of food and her restroom facilities consisted of a bucket in the corner of the room. After her release, the smell of human excrement continued to sicken her as did the odor of garlic because her tormenter smelled of it whenever he was near the terrified girl. Anna is now in her 40’s but the images of her early life will always haunt her.

4. Left For Dead

Sheila Wamhorst was found staked to the ground and clinging to life in a rocky field near Hadaras, New Mexico in 1997. She was nearly naked and had been bludgeoned so badly that her left eye was nearly out of its socket. Apparently a victim of a date rape drug, she disappeared from a bar about 10 miles from where she was found. Forensic evidence concluded that she was raped by no fewer than four men, possibly several times each, and she had been laying in that position for 2 days and nights. She could not recall much about her ordeal when she awoke in the hospital, as the men had apparently started beating her before she even recovered from the drugs. The perpetrators were never caught, the police believing they had fled across the Mexican border.

3. A Polite Murderer

When 9-year-old Benjamin Klopper was abducted from his school in Tennessee, his parents were obviously terrified and angry. But when they started receiving ransom calls, they were talked to by a man using an upper-crust English accent as well as formal, polite language that masked the deplorable piece of filth he really was. He demanded $50,000 for the boy’s release and the parents and FBI collected the money and quickly attempted to arrange the exchange. As many are, though, the exchange became a game of cat and mouse with the villain constantly changing his directions when he thought the FBI might have a plan to catch him. This went on for ten days and the parents knew that every hour which passed made it less likely they’d ever get their son back. Unfortunately, when the FBI was finally able to use the phone calls to track the location of the kidnapper, they found Benjamin already dead, bound and suffocated with a pillow. When the perp was caught, the grief-stricken parents came to know that he was not English, not upper-crust and less than polite while in prison.

2. The Perfect Crime

Bobby Franks was kidnapped in 1924 while he was walking home from school. Not by some unknown criminal, but by two young men he knew and admired. Time has weathered the story and memory of Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb. This is a good thing. Because they kidnapped and murdered a young boy, not for a ransom, not for revenge; they did it to prove how much smarter they were than everyone else. Both Leopold and Loeb were highly intelligent and affluent students in Chicago who may have also been gay lovers. Influenced by the writings of Nietzsche and other philosophers, they decided to plan a murder so perfectly that it could never be traced to them. After much deliberation over the plan, they decided to pick a random victim. Bobby Franks knew the men from his neighborhood and happened to be walking home when they stopped and offered him a ride. The 14-year-old lad eagerly accepted, not expecting in the least what was in store. It’s never been accurately known which man actually killed Franks, but he was struck in the head by a chisel many times and died in the car. They dumped his body near a lake in Indiana and fled. But the two geniuses who had the perfect plan dropped a pair of eyeglasses near the body. From this evidence, they were eventually arrested and confessed to the crime. Richard Loeb was killed in prison, but Leopold was paroled after 33 years and died in 1971.

1. Grace Budd

In 2017, it’s nearly incomprehensible to let your young child go wandering off with a man you’ve basically just met. That’s just what the parents of Grace Budd did in May of 1928. Albert Fish was a kind-looking older man who likely reminded many of their grandfather. He went to the Budd house intent on kidnapping their son, but Grace answered the door and he was able to convince her parents that he would take her to a birthday party. Tragically, Fish was not a kindly old man but one of the most demented child rapists in US history. By the time he kidnapped Grace Budd, he had already killed and eaten the remains of an unknown number of children in, according to him, “every state”. The horror of this episode came to light when Fish sent a letter to Grace’s parents–a letter which eventually lead to his capture. Here’s part of the piece:

“…he told me so often how good human flesh was I made up my mind to taste it. On Sunday, June the 3 – 1928 I called on you at 406 W 15 St. Brought you pot cheese – strawberries. We had lunch. Grace sat in my lap and kissed me. I made up my mind to eat her, on the pretense of taking her to a party. You said Yes she could go. I took her to an empty house in Westchester I had already picked out. When we got there, I told her to remain outside. She picked wildflowers. I went upstairs and stripped all my clothes off. I knew if I did not I would get her blood on them. When all was ready I went to the window and called her. Then I hid in a closet until she was in the room. When she saw me all naked she began to cry and tried to run downstairs. I grabbed her and she said she would tell her mama. First I stripped her naked. How she did kick – bite and scratch. I choked her to death then cut her in small pieces so I could take my meat to my rooms, cook and eat it. How sweet and tender her little *** was roasted in the oven. It took me 9 days to eat her entire body. I did not **** her, though, I could of had I wished. She died a virgin.”

References: Cosmopolitan; Wikipedia; The Sun.

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