You may remember the shocking story of Abby Hernandez, a 14-year-old who went missing on October 9, 2013, when she was on her way home from Kennett High School in North Conway, New Hampshire. The teen seemed to have vanished into thin air, confounding everyone. An exhaustive, massive search for her turned up nothing.
What had happened to Hernandez was beyond belief. She had been abducted and was held against her will thirty miles from her home. Her makeshift cell was a storage container. She was cruelly subjected to torture and sexual assault.
Hernandez, who was born on October 12, 1998, weathered this nightmare for nine hideous months. Her mental and emotional fortitude was—and is—amazing.
According to Hernandez in an interview with ABC’s 20/20, she prayed during her time in captivity. “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,” Hernandez recalled. “I just really wanted to live.”
The man who kidnapped her, Nathaniel Kibby, finally let Hernandez go on July 20, 2014. He was the focus of a counterfeiting probe and he was nervous about the police closing in on him. Hernandez also persuaded him to liberate her from captivity.
She was thrilled to have her freedom back. “I remember looking up and laughing, just being so happy,” Hernandez said. “Oh my God, this actually happened. I’m a free person. I never thought it would happen to me, but I’m free.”
Kibby was subsequently arrested. As for Hernandez, she has a heightened awareness of life. “Every time I go outside now, I really try to appreciate sunlight and fresh air. It really went in my lungs differently … I really try to never take that for granted.”
Hernandez Now Works As A Hairdresser
In February 2022, Oxygen True Crime reported that she has a little boy and is a hairdresser. North Conway is still her home. She is, of course, quite close to her family, who also held out faith she would be returned to them during the ordeal.
Faith and resilience seem to have been the dual keys to Hernandez’s survival. She was also shrewd beyond her years, managing to connect with Kibby so that he would eventually allow her to leave. That clever strategy may have saved Hernandez’s life.
“I told him, ‘Look, you don’t seem like a bad person. Like, everybody makes mistakes … If you let me go, I won’t tell anybody about this.’ I really always kinda put it—you know, ‘This strategy is always there.’”
She Got To Tell Her Own Story On Film
Hernandez was an executive producer of the film that portrayed her ordeal, titled Girl In The Shed: The Kidnapping of Abby Hernandez. It sounds like participating in the making of the film was cathartic for her.
“I don’t feel as scared anymore,” Hernandez said, according to KGET. “Obviously, it’s a weird experience to have this happen in the first place. And then to have it made into a movie is obviously like an even weirder experience. But ultimately, I did find it healing in a weird way just to have it out there.”
Lindsay Navarro, the actress who plays Hernandez in Girl in the Shed, said that Hernandez “wants to […] inspire people in that way, to show that it is possible that you don’t have to be defined by your circumstances.”
Abby Hernandez went through something that would severely test the strength of a person far older and more worldly than she was at the time of her abduction. That tremendous strength may also have enhanced her ability to return to life in her hometown and restore her equilibrium. It’s just an incredible feat.