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Miracle escapes: The kidnapped children who returned home

Jaycee Dugard, Shawn Hornbeck, Elizabeth Smart: All were kidnapped, all returned home.

The missing child flier for Elizabeth Smart hangs next to the one for Shawn Hornbeck. Hornbeck and Smart were both found alive. (AP Photo/Tom Gannam)

THIS WEEK SAW the incredible rescue of three women who had been kidnapped and held in a home in Cleveland, Ohio, for almost 10 years.

The families of Amanda Berry (27), Georgina ‘Gina’ DeJesus (23) and Michelle Knight (32) might not have given up hope, but the chance that they would see the three young women again were slim.

Against all odds, Berry was able to attract the attention of a neighbour on the Cleveland street where she had been held captive, through a gap in a locked door. That one brave action led to her fellow captives being found, and released into the arms of their families.

A man, Ariel Castro – a school bus-driver and father – has been charged in connection with the women’s kidnap and rape.

But the Cleveland trio are not the only kidnap victims to have defied the odds and managed to escape from confinement. Here are five stories of others who made miraculous escapes.

Jaycee Dugard

Jaycee Lee Dugard, who went missing in 1991. Pic: AP Photo/Nick Ut,File

Eighteen years. That’s how long Jaycee Lee Dugard was missing and held captive for. Her kidnappers were a couple, Phillip and Nancy Garrido, who kept her locked up in their home after zapping her with a stun gun and whisking her off a South Lake Tahoe street.

What made her 1991 abduction even more shocking was that it happened in front of her stepfather, as she walked to a school bus at age 11.

Nancy and Phillip Garrido before the start of their hearing in court. Pic: AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli

Under the couple’s watch, she was raped, kept trapped and locked inside a back garden studio. Dugard gave birth to two daughters fathered by Phillip Garrido, the first when she was just 14.

A tent is set up in the far backyard of a home in Antioch, California, where authorities say Dugard lived. Pic: AP Photo/Paul Sakuma

Dugard was discovered after the behaviour of the Garridos while on the UC Berkeley campus raised the suspicions of police. On a subsequent visit to a parole office, Phillip brought Dugard with him. She was questioned by police, and after some time, told the authorities her true identity.

Phillip Garrido, 60, a serial sex offender, was ordered to spend the rest of his life in prison and his wife, Nancy, 55, was given a 36-year sentence.

March 9, 2012, Oprah Winfrey presents Jaycee Dugard with a DVF Award at The Third Annual DVF Awards held at the United Nations in New York. Pic: AP Photo/Charles Sykes


Elizabeth Smart

Elizabeth Smart earlier this month. Pic: AP Photo/Rick Bowmer

This is Elizabeth Smart, a young Utah woman who was kidnapped from her bedroom in Salt Lake City in 2002 when she was 14.

Pic: AP Photo/Douglas C Pizac

She was taken from the home she lived in with her parents, Ed and Lois Smart (pictured above), and five siblings in a well-to-do neighbourhood.

That night, the alarm hadn’t been set in their home, and hours after the family went to bed Brian David Mitchell broke in.

Brian David Mitchell arrives at the federal court house in Salt Lake City. Pic: AP Photo/Colin E Braley

The black-clad and polite Mitchell abducted Smart from the room she shared with her sister Mary Katherine (9), who pretended to be asleep and remembered details of the abduction that helped the police in their investigation.

Mitchell took Smart back to the camp he shared with Wanda Barzee in a woods, where the young teen was forced to “marry” the older man in a ceremony. During her captivity, Smart was raped, forced to drink alcohol and abused.

Elizabeth Smart arrives at the federal court house for the closing arguments in the trial of Brian David Mitchell. Pic: AP Photo/Colin E Braley

Thousands of volunteers scoured the area near the Smart home in an effort to find the young girl.

After some time, Mary Katherine identified Mitchell as ‘Emmanuel’, a homeless man who been given odd jobs at the Smart home. The police did not follow up this lead thoroughly, the parents argued, but after a drawing of ‘Emmanuel’ appeared on America’s Most Wanted, Mitchell’s family recognised his face and contacted the authorities.

Nine months after the abduction, Mitchell was spotted in Sandy, Utah, by a biker who had seen America’s Most Wanted. He alerted police, and Smart (who was wearing a disguise), was found while walking with Mitchell, and reunited with her family.

Mitchell was sentenced to life in prison in 2011. Barzee is serving a 15-year sentence in Texas. Smart, now an activist and contributor to ABC News, got married last year on the Hawaiian island of O’ahu.


Shawn Hornbeck

Shawn Hornbeck. Pic: AP Photo/Tom Gannam, File

With his hoodie and piercings, Shawn Hornbeck looks like a pretty average teenage boy. But in 2002, at 11 years old, he was out riding his bicycle not far from his home in Richwoods, Missouri when he was kidnapped.

The entrance to the apartment where Hornbeck and Ownby were held. Pic: AP Photo/Kyle Ericson

He was held for more than four years by his kidnapper Michael J Devlin, and kept at his home.

Hornbeck’s discovery came somewhat by accident – police were searching for William Benjamin Ownby (13), who had gone missing four days earlier, when they discovered both boys in Devlin’s Missouri apartment.

The police had been led to the apartment following a tip-off from teenager Mitchell Hults.

Michael Devlin appearing before the court by video link. Pic: AP Photo/Jeff Roberson, File

Devlin was charged with 78 counts in the abduction and molestation of both Ownby and Hornbeck, and pleaded guilty to them all. He is serving a life sentence for his crime.


Steven Stayner

Steven Stayner testifies about his abduction in 1972 by Kenneth Parnell and his seven years in captivity in this 1981 photo. Pic: AP Photo

Steven Stayner was seven years old when he was abducted by Kenneth Eugene Parnell, a 40-year-old drifter, who used his friend Ervin Edward Murphy to help him entice the boy into their company.

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Stayner was ordered by the sexually abusive Parnell to call him Dad, and was told his own parents had abandoned him.

That was 1972, and by 1980 the abuse and captivity was still continuing.

But when Parnell abducted another young boy, Timmy White (5), Stayner did not want to see him become another long-term victim of the abuser.

At just 14, he took White and hitch-hiked to the nearest police station, which was 40 miles away.

Five year old Timothy Lee White gets a piggy back ride from 14 year-old Steven Stayner into a press conference March 2, 1980. Pic: AP Photo

Parnell was not tried for the sexual abuse perpetrated against Stayner, but was sentenced to seven years for kidnap.

The ending to this particular tale is one of tragedy.

Steven Stayner died at just 24 when his motorcyle was hit by a car. He was married and had two children. Timmy White, also married and a father of two, died from a pulmonary embolism at age 35.


Natasha Kampusch

The entrance to the cellar where Natascha Kampusch was held. AP Photo/Austrian Police, handout)

The world was shocked when news emerged about a young woman found in an Austrian cellar, who had been held by a kidnapper for eight years.

Her name was Natascha Kampusch, and she had last been seen at the age of 10 in 1998, on her way to school. Witnesses reported seeing her being dragged into a white minibus.

Despite extensive investigations – and the fact that police searched a minivan owned by Wolfgang Přiklopil, who was her captor – she was not found.

A police photo of Austrian, Wolfgang Přiklopil. Pic: AP Photo/Hans Punz

Kept in a small cellar with a reinforced steel door, Kampusch initially led a life of frightening seclusion, aside from visits from her kidnapper. Gradually, she was given more and more freedom, even being able to go into the garden and at one point going on a skiing trip that lasted a few hours.

At the age of 18, in 2006, Kampusch was vacuuming Přiklopil's BMW when he took a phone call - and she took her chance to make an escape.

Kampusch is escorted by police after she was found in Deutsch Wagram north of Vienna, 23 August 2006. Pic: AP Photo/Helmut Stamberg

Přiklopil (44) took his own life after Kampusch's escape, before police were able to arrest him and bring him to justice.

The house where Kampusch was confined still stands, and she is now its owner.


Read: Ariel Castro in court, charged with rape and kidnapping>

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