11 Kidnapped Kids Who Spent The Longest Time In Captivity

It’s hard to imagine being trapped in a basement for months, in some cases years on end. It’s even harder to imagine being put in there by your own father, and to be physically, mentally and sexually abused. No human life deserves to go through torture of that nature.

Yet, horrifically, it happened. In 2008, a 42-year old woman named Elisabeth Fritzl told police in Austria that she had been held captive in a basement of her father’s house for 24 years. Joseph Fritzl physically assaulted and sexually abused his daughter numerous times during her imprisonment. It resulted in seven children, four of which joined their mother in captivity, three of which were raised by Joseph and his wife.

The Fritzl case brought up some horrific memories from the past, specifically of kids that have been taken and have spent time in captivity. These ten cases in particular garnered a lot of media attention, but unfortunately, no amount of attention gave these kids this lost part of their childhoods back.


10. Elizabeth Shoaf, North Carolina – ten days.

In 2006, Elizabeth Shoaf was kidnapped at the age of 14 by Vinson Filyaw, who posed as a police officer. He told her she was under arrest and led her into the woods. There, in a dark and cramped bunker he had dug into the ground, he stripped her naked and chained her by the neck.

For ten days, he raped her several times a day.

When she was taken into the woods, Elizabeth dropped her shoes in the hope of someone finding them. Later, when she had gained her kidnapper’s trust and was allowed outside of the bunker, she would pull out strands of hair and throw them on the ground as clues.

Elizabeth finally saved herself by sending her mom a text from her kidnapper’s phone after he’d gone to sleep. After seeing on TV that the police were looking for him, Filyaw tried to make a run for it, and Elizabeth climbed out of the bunker.

She was found in the woods and taken to the hospital.

Filyaw was found and sentenced to 421 years in prison.


This was the underground bunker Elizabeth was kept in for ten days.


9. Shasta Groene, Idaho – seven weeks.

In May 2005, police found the bodies of Brenda Groene, her 13-year-old son Slade, and her boyfriend Mark McKenzie at their home in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Brenda’s nine-year-old son and her eight-year-old daughter Shasta were missing.

Seven weeks later, a waitress at a Denny’s restaurant recognized Shasta, who had been reported missing for weeks, in the company of an unknown man. When Shasta was reunited with her father, authorities informed him that there was little hope of finding Dylan alive.

Two days later investigators found human remains at a remote campsite. They were identified as Dylan Groene.

During their captivity, Shasta and Dylan were repeatedly molested and had been told by their captor Joseph Duncan how he bludgeoned their family to death with a hammer.


Security footage of pedophile and murderer Joseph Duncan joined by Shasta Groene.

8. Sabine Dardenne, Belgium – 80 days.

In 1996, 12-year-old Sabine Dardenne was abducted by child molester and serial killer Marc Dutroux, commonly known as “The Monster of Belgium”, while she was riding her bike to school.

She was kept in Dutroux’ tiny basement, where she was chained and sexually abused regularly. He told Sabine her parents weren’t looking for her and they refused to pay ransom. He also described himself to her as “her savior”, constantly reminding her that “the boss” wanted to kill her. This later created suspicions of a pedophile ring, but the investigation was suspended after Dutroux later confessed he acted on his own behalf.

Sabine was held for 74 days before she asked her captor for a friend. He then kidnapped 14-year-old Laetitia Delhez but his car was recognized by locals. Laetitia spent six days in captivity before both girls were found.

The girls weren’t found until two days after Dutroux had been arrested.

Dutroux was also responsible for the deaths of four more young girls. Eight-year-olds Melissa Russo and Julie Lejeune, also kidnapped and sexually abused, died of starvation in the same basement while Dutroux was in prison for car theft. In a second killing spree, Dutroux buried 17-year-old An Marchal and Eefje Lambrecks alive.

Dutroux never confessed to murdering any of the girls, but he was sentenced to life in prison, although he briefly escaped in 1998.

His wife and accomplice Michelle Martin, who was responsible for letting Russo and Lejeune starve while Dutroux was in prison for car theft, was sentenced to 30 years in prison. She was released 16 years into her sentence.


This was the hidden basement Julie and Melissa starved to death in, and Sabine and Laetitia were kept in. When authorities searched Dutroux’ house while he was in prison for car theft, they heard eight-year-olds Julie and Melissa’s screams, but they couldn’t find the entrance to the basement, leading them to believe the screams were coming from outside.


7. Elizabeth Smart, Utah – nine months.

In 2002, Elizabeth Smart was abducted from her home in Salt Lake City, Utah, at knife point. Her younger sister Mary Katherine saw it happen and immediately recognized the kidnapper’s voice, but later couldn’t tell the authorities where she knew his voice from.

She was taken into the woods by a man later identified as Brian David Mitchell, and his wife Wanda Banzee. She was chained and “married” to Mitchell through a religious ceremony, after which Mitchell repeatedly raped her.

She was kept in the woods for nine months, during which she was made to drink alcohol and watch pornography. Eventually, four months after Elizabeth’s abduction, her younger sister placed the voice, and a sketch was drawn. It was featured on America’s Most Wanted.

A biker who watched the show recognized Mitchell as he stepped out with two women (Wanda and Elizabeth) and alerted the authorities.

Initially ruled unfit to stand trial, Mitchell eventually got two life sentences and Barzee was sentenced to 15 years in prison for her role in the kidnapping.


Elizabeth Smart was found alive in Sandy on March 12, 2003.

6. Shawn Hornbeck, Missouri – four years and three months.

Shawn was 11-years-old when he was kidnapped while riding his bicycle by Michael J. Devlin in 2002. He spent over four years in captivity.

Shawn spent his first month in captivity tied to a futon with his mouth duct-taped. His kidnapper threatened that if he tried to escape, he would be killed.

Aside from years of torture, abuse, and being forced to take on the name Shawn Devlin, the little boy’s captor made pornographic photographs and videotapes of Shawn. He also took Shawn across state lines to engage in sex acts.

It wasn’t until Devlin kidnapped 13-year-old Ben Ownby, and his neighbor Mitchell Hults recognized Devlin’s van, that police raided Devlin’s apartment. They found Ben four days after his abduction, and to everyone’s surprise, they also found Shawn Hornbeck there.

Michael J. Devlin was convicted of kidnapping, child molestation and production of child pornography. He was sentenced to serving life multiple times, bringing his total incarceration to 1,850 years.

He has been in prison since 2008 and has since been attacked by another inmate, but survived.


5. Steven Stayner, California – seven years, three months and ten days.

Steven Stayner was only seven when he was approached by Ervin Edward Murphy in 1972. Murphy was an acquaintance of the man who would later be Steven’s kidnapper, Kenneth Parnell. Murphy convinced the young boy to get into convicted child rapist Parnell’s car, after which Parnell took him to a cabin. The following morning, he molested him.

Steven was told by his kidnapper that his parents had given him up because they couldn’t afford that many children, and Parnell now had legal custody over him. He renamed him Dennis Gregory Parnell and enrolled him in various schools over the next few years.

As Steven got older and entered puberty, Parnell began to look for a younger victim. He eventually kidnapped five-year-old Timothy White. In 1980, while Parnell was away at his security job, Steven took Timmy and ran. They hitchhiked back to Ukiah, but unable to find Timmy’s home address, Steven took him to the police. The boys were identified and returned to their families.

Parnell was arrested and convicted of kidnapping, but he wasn’t charged with sexual assault. He was sentenced to seven years of prison, but he only served five.

Steven Stayner died in a hit-and-run motorcycle accident in 1989, at the age of 24. Timmy, who was 14 at the time, helped carry his coffin at his funeral.


4. Natascha Kampusch, Austria – eight years, five months.

In 1998 Natascha Kampusch, aged ten at the time, was dragged into a white van on her way to school. The trail went dead for eight years.

It was communications technician Wolfgang Priklopil that took her, and locked her inside a tiny, 5 ft square, windowless, soundproof basement under his house. The door was made of concrete and reinforced steel and very thoroughly hidden.

The first six months of her captivity, Natascha wasn’t allowed to leave the tiny, humid, dark basement at all. She lost all sense of time and never saw daylight. After a long time, she was allowed upstairs with her kidnapper, where she would do chores for Priklopil.

He had terrible OCD, and had Natascha cleaning his house. He would beat her anytime she would leave a fingerprint, and for many other reasons. He made her wear a plastic bag over her hair, and eventually just shaved her head. For eight years, Natascha was beaten, starved, and kept half-naked.

Then, one day, Priklopil made the mistake of letting Natascha vacuum his car. As he took a phone call, Natascha ran, as fast as she could, with no idea of where she was. She found a house, banged on the door and screamed “I am Natascha Kampusch!”, assuming people would be looking for her.

At the time of her escape, Natascha was 18-years-old, barely weighed 100 pounds and had only grown 6 inches since she was kidnapped. Shortly after Natascha escaped, Priklopil jumped in front of a train. Natascha reportedly was inconsolable, leading experts to believe that she suffered from Stockholm Syndrome.

In 2010, she released a book, 3096 Days, which was also made into a movie. It wasn’t until 2013 that Natascha admitted Priklopil repeatedly raped her as well.

It was one of the most publicized kidnappings in the world, due to the length of her captivity and the police suspecting her mother of being involved in her disappearance.

3. Fusako Sano, Japan – nine years, two months.

Fusako Sano was nine-years-old when she was kidnapped in 1990. She was taken by Nobuyuki Satō, a then 28-year-old mentally disturbed Japanese man who lived in an apartment with his elderly mother.

He held Fusako in a room on the upstairs floor of his apartment. His house was only 200 yards from the local police station. The authorities actually searched his property, but didn’t find Fusako.

For the first few months, Fusako was kept tied up. During her captivity, she was repeatedly beaten and threatened with a knife. She would also be punished with a stun gun. Satō shared his men’s clothes with her and cut her hair.

Although the doors were never locked, Fusako never tried to escape. First because she was to afraid, eventually because she lost the energy to escape and gave up.

After nine years, it was Satō’s mother who alerted the authorities because her son was acting strange and showing aggressive behavior. Fusako was found, and Satō was arrested and sentenced to 14 years in prison.

Fusako never fully recovered. She is said to have the mind of a child and severe Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.


2. Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight, Cleveland – ten years and nine months.

Michelle was the first of three to be kidnapped by Ariel Castro in 2002. She was 21-years-old at the time of her kidnapping. Eight months later, Castro kidnapped Amanda Berry the day before her 17th birthday, and a year after that he took Gina DeJesus. She was 14.

Michelle Knight was taken on the day she was scheduled to appear in court for a custody case involving her son Joey. She was tricked into following Castro home under the false promise of puppies. The police spent limited resources on finding her because of her age.

At Castro’s house, Michelle was chained by her arms, feet and neck, and was only fed on the third day after her kidnapping. She was repeatedly beaten and violently raped by Castro. He impregnated her at least five times over the course of ten years, but induced miscarriages by beating and starving her.

After she was joined by Amanda Berry, the two women were chained to each other. He also impregnated Berry, who delivered the child whilst in captivity. Knight helped deliver the baby.

Another year later, the two women were joined by Gina DeJesus, a 14-year-old girl. Her abduction was not witnessed, so there was no AMBER alert issued.

On the day of the escape, in April 2013, it was Berry who made contact with the neigbors, after Castro failed to lock the home’s big inside door. The exterior storm door was bolted, but Berry screamed when she saw a neighbor through the screen door. They kicked a hole in the screen door, and Berry and her 6-year-old daughter escaped. Berry called 911 from a neighbors house and reportedly said “Help me. I’m Amanda Berry. I was kidnapped and I’ve been missing for 10 years. And I’m here. I’m free now.”

Castro was placed under arrest that day, and he was charged with kidnapping, rape, aggravated murder, attempted murder and assault. He was sentenced to over 1,000 years in prison, but a month into his sentence, guards found him hanged in his cell.

Ariel Castro (left) and the house where he kept Michelle Knight, Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus for over ten years.

1. Jaycee Dugard, California – 18 years and two months.

Jaycee Dugard was only 11 when she was kidnapped on her way home from school in 1991. Her kidnapper Phillip Garrido shocked her with a stun gun, leaving her unconscious. He was helped by his wife Nancy, who scouted Jaycee as a “prize” for her husband.

By the time the Garridos arrived at their home, they’d already removed all of Jaycee’s clothing. Phillip wrapped her in a blanket and locked her in a tiny, soundproof storage unit which he bolted shut. Jaycee remained in handcuffs throughout the first week, while he brought her food and milkshakes. After her first week in captivity, Garrido forces Jaycee into a shower with him and raped her for the first time. She was still in handcuffs.

Months later, Jaycee was moved into a larger storage unit, and handcuffed to the bed. Her kidnapper would go on meth binges during which he would dress Jaycee up and they would cut out pornographic figures together.

When Garrido went to prison for failing a drug test, his wife Nancy replaced him as Jaycee’s jailer.

At the age of 13, Jaycee fell pregnant with her first child. This was the first time her kidnappers started feeding her warm meals. Three years later, she gave birth to another daughter. Jaycee was forced to tell her daughters she was their older sister and Nancy Garrido was their mother.

When Jaycee was finally found, she refused to admit what had happened to her, and came up with a cover story. It wasn’t until Garrido confessed to what he had done to Jaycee that she revealed her identity. It was later made clear that after 18 years of imprisonment, Jaycee suffered from Stockholm Syndrome.

Miraculously, Jaycee grew up to be an educated, intelligent adult, and so were her daughters. They had no learning disabilities or social difficulties.

There were numerous missed chances to rescue Jaycee, yet she wasn’t found until 2009. In 2011, the Garridos pleaded guilty to kidnapping and rape. Phillip was sentenced to 431 years imprisonment, and Nancy received 34 years to life. Jaycee chose not to attend the sentencing.