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Top 10 Terrifying Famous Kidnappings

All ten of today’s cases were news stories that shocked the world and made parents hold their children a little closer. For decades, stories like these have created legislature, led to the Amber alert, and made us all a little bit more careful and wary of strangers. So, let’s get started! Here are the Top 10 Terrifying Famous Kidnappings. But before we get started, why not become an archivist today by clicking that subscribe button and notification bell so you don't miss out on any future uploads! If you end up enjoying this video, let us know by giving it a thumbs up and tell us in the comment section which of these cases that you remember!



10. Jaycee Lee Dugard
Jaycee Lee Dugard’s kidnapping is one of the most shocking stories to make it into the limelight. It’s no wonder why everyone was so entranced by the story. It’s not only horrifying, but it’s also every parent’s worst nightmare. Luckily, it has somewhat of a happy ending. It all started when Jaycee was just eleven years old, walking to the bus stop on a normal day.

A man named Phillip Garrido drove by, shot her with a stun gun and kidnapped her. He then held her captive in his house, where he lived with his wife, for 19 years! She bore two children and was only found almost 20 years later when Garrido’s “really pale” daughters raised suspicions at a UC Berkley event. Garrido was interrogated and asked to come to an appointment with his family, at which he showed up with Jaycee who he introduced as “Alissa”.

After thorough interrogation, Garrido admitted he had kidnapped her and she finally gave the police her real name. Police said she was showing signs of Stockholm's Syndrome, which she adamantly denies. She was freed, interviewed on TV for fascinated and shocked spectators, and she even wrote a book! All these years - and lots of therapy later - she has lived somewhat a normal life.

9. Elizabeth Smart
Elizabeth Smart’s case is one of bad parenting, a society that chooses to look the other way, and plain old bad luck. Elizabeth was the abduction victim of Brian David Mitchell and his wife Wanda Barzee. Mitchell was a Mormon boy raised in a large family in Utah. His parents taught him harsh lessons, leaving him in remote areas to find his way home to “learn independence”. His second ex-wife’s children also accused him of sexual abuse. After their divorce, he met his partner in crime, his wife Wanda Barzee, with whom he held 14-year-old Elizabeth Smart in a cabin. This was after taking her from her family home in the middle of the night at knifepoint.

Her sister witnessed the kidnapping, pretending to be asleep, and over the next nine months put together enough details to create a police sketch which helped identify Mitchell, which would finally land him into custody. He was sentenced to life without parole and his wife was sentenced to 15 years, of which she served about 9. Upon gaining freedom, she was repeatedly interviewed and asked about her experience. Several movies about her have been made since her release.

8. Adam Walsh
America’s Most Wanted has often depicted the faces of many kidnappers, rapists, and dangerous criminals. It was an ingenious way of informing people, entertaining them and catching bad guys all at the same time. What you might not have known, is that the host of America’s Most Wanted was a victim of crime himself. Adam Walsh, the father of whom was John Walsh, was a kidnapped child that was murdered in the early 1980s. Adam was abducted from a department store after he was asked to leave the area his mom had left him, an Atari play zone with other boys. After an argument over the turns ensued, the boys were escorted to an exit unknown to him and he was kidnapped sometime after.

Two weeks later, fishermen found his body in a drainage canal. The rest of his remains were never found. Adam’s murder led to several important bills and to a special code in department stores for lost children. Ottis Toole, a serial killer, confessed to and then recanted his confession of Adam’s murder. It’s unknown, but several theories have come up including one saying serial killer and sex offender Jeffrey Dahmer did it. Unfortunately, we’ll probably never know.

7. Michael Anthony Hughes
This case has so many strange ties, it’s easy to get lost in how screwed up it is. It’s the case of Michael Anthony Hughes, who has been missing since the day his mother’s husband, Franklin Delano Floyd, abducted him from his elementary school classroom. Let’s back it up though. His kidnapper was also his mother’s kidnapper from when she was a child. He took her and her sister from their home and began sexually abusing them, raising one as her daughter and then marrying her! Explicit photos of her were found among Floyd’s belongings from when she was just four years old.

She was killed in a hit-and-run in 1990, which Floyd is suspected of having committed but was never arrested for. After her death, Floyd put Michael in foster care, where he was adopted. After being released from prison, Floyd attempted to regain custody but was denied after a failed paternity test. So, as you do when you’re a psychopath, he kidnapped Michael from his first-grade classroom, forcing the principal at gunpoint to help him. Floyd was arrested two months later but no signs of Michael have ever been found. In 2015, he alleged he’d killed the boy the same day of the kidnapping.
To top it all off, Floyd is currently on death row for murdering yet another woman.

6. Sabine Dardenne
Young Sabine was on her way to school in Belgium riding her bike, much like any child in the mid-‘90s, when Marc Dutroux took her and held her for almost three months. During that time, Sabine was hardly submissive. She asked him repeated questions, begged to be allowed to write to friends, which Dutroux said he’d send but never did. To try to get on the girl’s good side, he kidnapped another girl, Laetitia Delhez, in order for her to have friends, and of course for him to have more child sex slaves in his basement. During her abduction, however, Dutroux was careless enough to have been spotted. His license was caught by witnesses, which led to the rescue of the girls soon after. Unfortunately, those who came before them hadn’t been so lucky. Authorities would find five bodies of previous victims of Doutroux’s in his cellar.

5. Graeme Thorne
Graeme’s kidnapping was the first of its kind in Australia, a crime inspired by greed. The kidnappers were after Graeme’s father’s lottery money. The boy was taken, like many others on our list, on his way to school. His carpool noticed he wasn’t at his usual spot, and checked with the mother, who immediately notified authorities. The kidnapper called the boy’s house, requesting $25,000 before 5 p.m.

A police officer pretended to be the boy’s father and spoke to the kidnapper who threatened to “feed the boy to the sharks” if his demands weren’t met. He called back before 10 p.m. to give more instructions to the family but didn’t finish before hanging up abruptly. Unfortunately, what started out as a crime for money turned out fatal. The boy’s body was found six weeks after the kidnapping and the forensic evaluation that ensued was rigorous, leading to the arrest of Stephen Bradley, who had fled the country soon after the murder. He later died in prison in 2012.

4. Shawn Hornbeck
In 2002, Shawn Hornbeck was taken from his bike after a man named Michael John Devlin ran into him with his car. He approached the boy to “help him” and put him into his car. He kept the boy for four years going absolutely unrecognized. Shawn was allowed to go out, too. He dated, went out, even spoke to police about a missing bicycle. The boy believed he had no choice but to stay, that he couldn’t break his silence. Dissatisfied with just one victim, he kidnapped a second boy, Ben Ownby. Another child, a witness to the crime, told police about the beat-up white pickup he saw, which led authorities to find Devlin, Ben and Shawn all in the kidnapper’s one-bedroom apartment. Both boys were returned safely. Devlin was sentenced to 74 consecutive life sentences. While in prison, he was stabbed by another inmate but survived.

3. Elisabeth Fritzl
Shortly after turning 18, Elisabeth was kidnapped and kept hostage in her own home. During her captivity, she was repeatedly raped by her own father, Josef Fritzl. He lured her into the family basement and kept her there for 24 years. Her story is actually the premise of the Netflix documentary “Story of a Monster”. During her captivity, she gave birth to seven of her father’s children, three of which were brought upstairs for her mother to raise as if they were children Fritzl had just found. The others were held captive in the basement, though one died shortly after childbirth. The children raised by Josef and his wife were approved by social workers, who regularly visited the house and testified that they never suspected of anything going wrong inside the home.


They also said the stories of the “found children” seemed plausible and that’s why nobody raised a flag. Elisabeth was only found after she convinced Josef to take one of their children to seek medical attention after she mysteriously fell unconscious. Doctors didn’t really buy Fritzl’s story about having “a note from the mother”. Questions were raised about Elisabeth, who he claimed had run away and joined a cult, showing letters from her which seemed unnatural. Soon after, Josef cracked and allowed everyone to leave to visit the child in the hospital where they were all apprehended by police. Finally, in 2009, he was sentenced to life imprisonment.

2. Michelle Knight, Amanda Berry, and Gina DeJesus
Number two on the list is the kidnapping of several children. They were abducted separately, first Knight, then Berry, and finally DeJesus, all of which were girls. Each year, the kidnapper, Ariel Castro, would kidnap one more, starting in 2002 and finishing in 2004. They were all young women who were unfortunate enough to be at the wrong place at the wrong time, near Castro. He took them into his house, severely abused them, sometimes withholding food and keeping them tied up.

During the captivity, several of the women got pregnant and suffered forced miscarriages, usually involving violence. Amanda Berry actually had a child with Castro, delivered in the house by the other women, which he publicly showed off sometimes calling her his girlfriend’s daughter, or other times his granddaughter. Berry and her daughter managed to escape one day when they made contact with a neighbor through the screen door and they called 911. The other two women were rescued as well. A month into his life sentence, in 2013, Castro was found dead inside his cell. He had hanged himself with a bedsheet.

1. Jayme Closs
Finally, our number one was solved just recently. In late 2018, the Closs family made a call to 911 in the late hours of the night, or at least it seemed like it. In reality, the operator only heard yelling. When police arrived, the door had been shot in, and the Closs parents, James and Denise, had been shot dead. Their daughter was missing. Little to no information was found leading to suspects and further information. The case was silent until on January 10th, 2019, when Jayme approached a woman walking her dog and asked her for help. They called authorities and her description of her captor, the killer of her parents, led to the arrest of the suspect just minutes later. 21-year-old Jake Patterson was taken into custody to face the charges of kidnapping and murder. Jayme, though mentally scarred, is okay.

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