This July, Abigail Hernandez surprised everybody. Missing nine months and presumed dead, she defied the statistical odds by surviving a brutal abduction and finding her way home again -- welcome back, Abby Hernandez. Well done.
Nine days of total seclusion later, she would stun us all once more, showing up in court to face the accused kidnapper she'd been quietly helping investigators to finger. He in chains this time; she stoical but stone-faced, and seeming so much older than the little girl pictured in her missing person poster. So much wiser than her mere 15 years.
July 29, 2014, Conway District Court, NH: She still sees it all in her mind's eye. She still feels imprisoned in her soul. She thinks this monster standing in front of the judge's bench, who would snatch a young girl like some coveted object on a store shelf, has robbed her of more than just time.
He's taken things she can't retrieve anymore, no matter how hard she might try. He's stolen her childhood, her naiveté, her innocence ... she might never laugh or love again.
Beside the gaunt, pale and hard-jawed Abigail Hernandez sits her stricken mother Zenya. She's overjoyed to have a long lost child at her side once more of course, but, like her traumatized daughter, she too wears a grave and tortured expression.
Together the two solemnly watch the court proceedings unfold from the first row; both bearing an uncannily sad family resemblance and defiantly eying the lanky, shackled defendant who boldly turns to glance at them.
His name is Nathaniel Kibby, age 34, and he has a criminal rap sheet as long as he is tall, dating all the way back to when he was a teenager.
If convicted of abducting Abby Hernandez on October 9th 2013 and cruelly confining her for nearly a year in a soundproof shipping container next to his mobile home, Kibby will receive only a seven-year sentence.
Which means the career criminal would likely serve about five years max, assuming that throughout this brief period of incarceration he at all times exhibits "good behavior."
On the other hand, if "Crazy Nate" Kibby can be linked to other eerily similar disappearances in the area, then the good people of New Hampshire could probably put him away for life...