Every 40 seconds, a child becomes missing in the United States. That is an alarming statistic. While not every kidnapping makes it to the national, or even local headlines, there are some that have become known around the world. The chilling details of these child kidnappings have created horrifying memories that we will never forget.
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Below, you will read about the Top 10 Most Famous Child Kidnappings Ever until 2017.
10. Natascha Kampusch
In 1998, ten year old Natascha Kampusch was kidnapped in Austria by Wolfgang Priklopil. She left her home for school in the morning, and was dragged and thrown into a minivan. Although a large scale search ensued, police were not able to find her. Natascha Kampusch was held captive in a secret cellar for over eight years. It was hidden behind a cupboard, and was a tiny space of only fifty-four square feet. For a period of time, she was never allowed to leave the tiny, dark cellar area. Little by little, she was allowed out for short periods of time inside the home, then eventually outside for a bit. She was only allowed to leave the house with her captor and was threatened with death if she made a sound. She suffered horrific beatings, was raped, and was starved for periods of time to keep her too weak to escape. In 2006, she was able to escape.
9. Elizabeth Smart
Elizabeth Smart, now known as Elizabeth Ann Smart-Gilmour, was kidnapped at the age of fourteen. In 2002, she was abducted from her bedroom in the Salt Lake City home she lived in with her family. Her kidnappers were Brian David Mitchell and Wanda Ileen Barzee. While in her nine months of captivity, Elizabeth Smart was raped several times a day, she was kept tied up, and she was threatened with death if she tried to escape. She was rescued by police officers nine months after her abduction.
8. Michelle Knight, Amanda Berry, and Gina Dejesus
Michelle Knight, Amanda Berry, and Gina Dejesus are three young women that were kidnapped by Ariel Castro between 2002 and 2013. They were held captive in his home in Cleveland, Ohio. Each of these women had accepted a ride from Ariel Castro, then been lured ijnto his home where he took them to the basement and restrained them. The women were held captive, raped, tied up, and locked in a dark room. They were fed only once a day, showered only twice a week at the most, and were beaten. Amanda Berry gave birth to a baby that was fathered by Ariel Castro, and Michelle Knight had been pregnant several times, but miscarried due to severe beatings.Finally, in 2013 Amanda Berry and her daughter were able to escape after getting a neighbor’s attention. The other two women were rescued by police officers.
7. Adam Walsh
Adam Walsh was the son of John Walsh, the host of America’s Most Wanted. This is an extremely sad story and brings to life one of every parent’s worst fears. In 1981, six year old Adam Walsh was abducted from Sears in the Hollywood Mall of Hollywood, Florida. Two weeks after his abduction, Adam Walsh’s severed head was found in a drainage canal. A convicted serial killer, Ottis Toole confessed to murdering little Adam Walsh, but due to technicalities, he was never officially convicted. Following this tragedy, Adam’s father became an advocate for violent crime victims dedicating his life to helping others, hosting the national television show America’s Most Wanted, and a movie was created based on the details of Adam’s story.
6. Jaycee Dugard
In 1991, eleven year old Jaycee Dugard was abducted while walking to the school bus. Her stepfather witnessed the kidnapping and chased the abductor, but was unable to catch them. Although searches were conducted, police were unable to locate Jacyee Dugard. She was abducted and held captive by Phillip and Nancy Garrido until 2009. She was kept in a storage shed where she was raped, fed, and locked in. She was eventually moved to a larger room with a bed. The couple would alternate between being nice and being mean and cruel, they were manipulative, and Phillip would go on drug binges. He impregnated Jaycee Dugard on two occasions, and she gave birth to and raised two little children. Part of what makes Jaycee Dugard’s story so sad is that there were missed opportunites for her rescue form captivity due to negligence. She was eventually rescued in 2009.
5. Patty Hearst
Patty Hearst was kidnapped in 1974, when she was nineteen years old. The Symbionese Liberation Army, a left-wing terrorist group, abducted her, threatened to kill her, and forced her to support their cause by taking part in illegal activities. She was not rescued until nineteen months later, when she was a fugitive. Patty Hearst was convicted of bank robbery, but eventually pardoned of the charges.
4. Frank Sinatra, Jr.
Frank Sinatra, Jr. was the son of the actor/singer Frank Sinatra and wife, Nancy. He was kidnapped at the age of nineteen and held for ransom. The kidnappers asked for $240,000 in ransom, which was paid by his father. Two days after his abduction, Frank Sinatra, Jr was released.
3. Amber Hagerman
It is because of Amber Hagerman’s tragedy that we now have the Amber Alert. In 1996, nine eyar old Amber Hagerman was riding her bike when she was abducted. Her kidnapper is believed to have kept her alive for two days. Four days following her abduction, Amber Hagerman’s body was found in creek.
2. The Lindbergh Baby
In 1932, at not even two years old, Charles Lindbergh, Jr was abducted from his crib in his home. Two months later, the baby’s body was found just a short distance away, in a nearby town. After a two year long and exhausting investigation Richard Hauptmann was arrested, convicted, and executed by electric chair.
1. Helen of Troy
Helen of Troy, daughter of the Greek God Zeus, was considered one of the most beautiful women in the world. It is believed that her abduction and kidnapping are the events that led to the Trojan War. While this story may or may not be true, it is worth mentioning here as the most famous child kidnapping ever. The tale has been told for many years, and will continue for many more.