10 Famous Kidnappings that Made History

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Kidnappings aren’t uncommon. More often than not, they are brutal and painful. They take place nearly every day and each newspaper has a section dedicated to kidnappings. People read about them, feel sad for a few moments and continue with their daily activities as usual. However, there are some kidnappings which the world cannot forget and we still hold on to them. They are stories of abuse, murder, and crime which are so intense that they cannot be washed out of our minds. Some victims survived to tell their tale but others couldn’t make it through. Some emerged too traumatized to ever be normal again while some tried to make this world a better place after seeing what suffering can truly be like. Some were tortured by strangers, others by their very own. Read on to know about ten kidnappings that made history.

10. Fusako Sano

fusako sano

Fusako Sano is a Japanese woman who was kidnapped at the age of nine. Her captor was a man named Nobuyuki Sato. She was last seen watching a baseball game at her school and was forced into a car afterwards. She was held captive for nine years and two months and was kept on the top floor of the apartment which Sato shared with his mother who lived downstairs. Her captor brought her meals, cut her hair and gave her men’s clothes to wear. Fusako was too scared to venture out of the first floor of the house and she remained there for the entire term of her kidnapping. She was rescued when Sato’s mother called the hospital to ask them to take a look at her son who had been acting abnormally.

9. Kyoko Chan Cox

kyoko chan cox

Before Yoko Ono married John Lennon, she had already married twice. Her second husband, Anthony Cox, kidnapped their eight year old daughter after the divorce. He joined a cult with his next wife and forced Kyoko into it. After some time, he converted to Christianity and left the cult along with his daughter. However, Kyoko did not venture out because she was afraid to get her father prosecuted on the grounds of kidnapping. She could not meet her mother nor communicate with her for the next twenty-three years. She later met her mother again in 1997, for the first time since her kidnapping.

8. Shawn Hornbeck

shawn hornbeck

Shawn Hornbeck was kidnapped in 2002 while he was riding his bike near his home in Richmond, Montana, USA, at the age of eleven. He was kidnapped by a man named Michael Devlin who used to manage a pizza parlour. He was found about four and a half years later, at the age of fifteen, by the police who were investigating a scene with a regular search warrant. Devlin was sentenced to life imprisonment for kidnapping not just Shawn, but another boy too. The boys were sexually abused for the entire four and a half years and both the families said rescuing them had put an end to a great ordeal.

7. Elizabeth Smart

Elizabeth Smart

Elizabeth Smart was captured at the age of fourteen by Brian Mitchell and Wanda Barzee at knife-point from her home in Salt Lake City, Utah, in the year 2002. She was forced into a polygamous marriage with Mitchell. The couple force-fed her drugs and alcohol and raped her multiple times a day. They travelled with Smart for about nine months, along Salt Lake City. It was on one of these outings when they were spotted and convicted. Luckily, Elizabeth’s sister had recognized her captor and the police aired his picture on television as Most Wanted. Even after her horrible experience, Elizabeth returned, completed high school, went to college and became an attorney for kidnapping survivors. She also helped the United States Department of Justice write a handbook for kidnapping survivors.

6. Elizabeth Fritzl

elizabeth fritzl

Elizabeth Fritzl was kidnapped by her own father, Joseph Fritzl. She was sexually abused by him since the age of eleven. At the age of eighteen, her father prepared a cell in their house specially to torture her. He lured her into it and then began twenty-four years of continuous torture. He impregnated her eight times and raised six children while two died. Three children were raised above, in the house while the other three were down in the dark cellar. Joseph Fritzl was only caught when one of the children in the cellar suffered from kidney failure and had to be hospitalized. Today, Elizabeth has taken a new identity and is adjusting to a new life in Austria with all her father’s children.

5. Steven Stayner

Steven Stayner

Steven Stayner became quite famous after his abduction at the age of seven. He was kidnapped when he was walking home from school, in California. He was reunited with his parents seven years after his capture. His kidnapper, Kenneth Parnell, convinced him that he had legal custody of him (Steven) and enrolled him in school. Parnell also sexually abused him for the entire period. Steven escaped when Parnell kidnapped another boy. He took the other boy with him and went to the police station as soon as he could. Later on, a television show called “I Know My Name is Steven” was made, based on his real life ordeal.

4. Amanda Berry

amanda berry

Amanda Berry was kidnapped on the night before she turned seventeen. She vanished while walking back home from her job at Burger King. Her captor, Ariel Castro, has lured her into his vehicle. It took her ten years to escape and two other women who were held captive along with her, managed to escape too. Castro used to keep Berry chained in the basement and also impregnated her and had a child named Jocelyn, who managed to escape along with Berry. Castro was convicted and sentenced on multiple grounds including 177 attempts of kidnapping, 139 counts of rape and 2 of aggravated murder because of trying to force abortion.

3. Natasha Kampusch

Natasha Kampusch

Natasha Kampusch is an Austrian national who was abducted at the age of 10, on her way to school. Her kidnapper, Wolfgang Priklopil, kept her captive for eight years. Priklopil held her in a small cellar under his garage. She was never allowed to leave the cellar at night. One day, she was vacuuming Priklopil’s cars when he got a call and went inside to answer it. Kampusch left the vacuum cleaner on and ran to the police station. When Priklopil found out that the police were after him, he jumped in front of a train because he had told Kampusch that he would never let the police catch him alive.

2. Jaycee Dugard

jaycee dugard

Jaycee Dugard was captured at the age of eleven, outside her house in California. Her stepfather witnessed her abduction and alerted the authorities but she could not be traced. She was taken nearly 200 miles away, to another town. She was held by a rapist named Philip Garrido, and his wife, Nancy. Dugard bore two of Garrido’s children. She was held captive for eighteen years. When she escaped, Garrido was convicted. He claimed to have a religious explanation for his actions. Jaycee published a book called A Stolen Life which gives a painful account of her years spent in captivity.

1. Lindbergh Baby

lindbergh baby

The Lindbergh baby kidnapping was one of the most publicized kidnappings of the 20th century. The toddler had been snatched from his room. The kidnapper had entered with the help of a ladder and left behind a ransom note. A series of three to four more ransom notes followed along with middlemen operating to rescue the baby but all efforts were in vain. Two months later, the baby’s body was found a little distance from the Lindbergh home. Medical examinations portrayed the cause of death as skull fracture. After two years of investigation, Bruno Hauptmann was convicted and sentenced to death in an electric chair. However, he pleaded his innocence till the end.

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  • Vizzini

    More often than not, they are brutal and painful.

    This is not true. Most kidnappings are conducted by a non-custodial parent and the child is never abused or in any danger.