Most cases of long-term captivity — such as the one in Perris, California, where a couple is accused of imprisoning their 13 children — are unique in their bizarreness.
But as the cases navigate the court system, common themes emerge.
The abductors rely on raw force, psychological manipulation or combination of the two. They often have a sexual motivation. Their justice is swift and harsh, as judges lock them in cells and throw away the keys.
And the victims? They seem to rebound in surprisingly big ways.
Amanda Berry, Michelle Knight and Gina DeJesus
In May 2013, neighbors rescued three women and a 6-year-old girl from the Cleveland, Ohio, home of ex-school bus driver Ariel Castro. Berry, Knight and DeJesus had been kidnapped between 2002 and 2004, and DNA tests determined Castro was the father of the girl, Berry’s daughter.
Knight was 21 at the time of her disappearance, Berry was 16 and DeJesus 14.
Castro faced almost 1,000 counts, including 512 counts of kidnapping and 446 counts of rape. He eventually pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life in prison, plus 1,000 years. He committed suicide in his cell in September 2013.
Knight, who changed her name to Lillian Rose Lee, published a memoir in 2014. Berry and DeJesus collaborated on a book released the following year. A Lifetime movie detailing their captivity, “Cleveland Abduction,” also came out in 2015.
A Cleveland news station hired Berry last year to host its segment, “Missing,” which focuses on missing persons in Northeast Ohio.
Brown, 30 at the time, was found “chained up like a dog” in a shipping container in northwest South Carolina in November 2016. Brown and her boyfriend had been missing for more than two months.
The woman’s last social media interaction had been with suspect Todd Kohlhepp, and investigators used phone records to track her down at his 95-acre farm in Woodruff.
Kohlhepp, a real estate agent and registered sex offender, would eventually face charges of murdering seven people over 13 years, including Brown’s boyfriend, Charles Carver, whose body was found along with two others at the farm.
To avoid the death penalty, Kohlhepp cut a plea deal and received seven life sentences, plus 60 years on sexual assault and kidnapping charges.
During an interview on the “Dr. Phil” show last year, Brown said she knew exactly what she’d say to Kohlhepp given the chance.
“He cannot destroy who I am, and I won,” she said.
At 11, Dugard was walking to a school bus stop in South Lake Tahoe, California, when she felt “tingly” and “numb.” Phillip Garrido, accompanied by his wife, Nancy, had shocked her with a stun gun, Dugard told ABC of her 1991 abduction.
“It was like the most horrible moment of your life times 10,” she told the station.
The couple took Dugard to their Antioch home where she was barred from saying her own name. Phillip Garrido raped her repeatedly, and she bore two children during her 18 years in captivity. She first gave birth in the Garridos’ back yard when she was only 14.
Phillip Garrido was busted in 2009 when, amid efforts to procure an event space at the University of California, Berkeley, he spurred the suspicions of two campus police officers. He had brought Dugard’s two daughters, then 11 and 15, with him, introducing them as his daughters.
When one of the police officers later mentioned the daughters to Garrido’s parole officer, the parole officer replied, “He doesn’t have daughters.”
The Garridos pleaded guilty to numerous charges, including kidnapping, sexual assault and rape by force. Phillip Garrido was sentenced to 431 years in prison, Nancy Garrido to 36 to life.
Dugard has written two books, “A Stolen Life: A Memoir,” and “Freedom: My Book of Firsts,” about her life after captivity. She told ABC in a 2016 interview that she wouldn’t bar her daughters from seeing their father in prison.
“I want them to make their own choices in life, and if that’s something that they need to do, then you know I’d … I wouldn’t be OK with it. But I wouldn’t not let them do it,” Dugard told ABC.
For 24 years, Fritzl was locked in a basement by her own father, who repeatedly sexually assaulted her. The rapes resulted in seven children, including a twin who died shortly after birth, police say.
She was only 18 when Josef Fritzl threw her into a customized cellar in their Amstetten, Austria, home and told family members she had run away to join a cult.
The dungeon would remain a secret until April 2008 where Elisabeth Fritzl’s then-19-year-old daughter became ill and was rushed to the hospital, where the staff became suspicious and called police.
Fritz was found guilty of rape and imprisonment at his 2009 trial and was sentenced to life in prison.
Elisabeth Fritzl and her children were given new identities by the state. They also received a pension and a home in an undisclosed location in rural Austria, according to media reports at the time.
Hornbeck was kidnapped in 2002 while riding his bike in Richwoods, Missouri. The 11-year-old would be sexually abused for four years by pizzeria manager Michael Devlin, who had a knack for convincingly introducing Shawn as his son.
In January 2007, amid an investigation into another missing boy — Ben Ownby, 13, who had been missing for four days — two police officers who frequented the pizzeria where Devlin worked asked him about his truck, which was similar to one investigators were seeking in Ownby’s case.
Police were disturbed by Devlin’s demeanor and alerted the FBI. When investigators returned to Devlin’s Kirkwood apartment, they found both boys.
Prosecutors charged Devlin with many offenses, including attempted murder, kidnapping, forced sodomy and counts related to producing child pornography.
He received 74 life sentences for his crimes.
A 10-year anniversary story in the January 13, 2017, edition of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that Ownby works and attends college in the St. Louis area. Gary Toelke, the Franklin County sheriff at the time the boys were found, said Ownby was into video production and “is doing really well.”
Hornbeck, who now has the word “respect” tattooed on one forearm and “faith” on the other, was working at a factory in Pevely, Missouri. Washington County Sheriff Zach Jacobsen told the newspaper he had done ride-alongs with deputies and “always seemed to be in a good mood, very talkative.” His parents still live in Richwoods, the newspaper said.
Brian Mitchell and Wanda Barzee abducted Smart at knifepoint from the bedroom of her Salt Lake City, Utah, home in June 2002. Smart’s younger sister was the only witness to the crime.
The drifter couple took the the 14-year-old to a campsite in the foothills above Smart’s home, where they tethered her to trees and Mitchell repeatedly raped her. When the weather began to turn cold they took Smart to a suburb of San Diego for several months before returning to Utah.
On March 12, 2003, after two witnesses recognized the perpetrators from “America’s Most Wanted,” police found Smart walking down the street with her captors in Sandy, about 18 miles from her home.
Mitchell and Barzee were charged with six felony counts, including aggravated burglary, aggravated kidnapping, aggravated sexual assault, as well as two charges related to a failed attempt to kidnap Smart’s cousin.
The case traversed the court system for years until, in 2009, Barzee accepted a plea deal and agreed to cooperate against Mitchell. Barzee was sentenced to 15 years in prison, while a federal judge ruled Mitchell would spend the rest of his life there.
Now 30, Smart is married with two children. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Brigham Young University and has participated in Mormon missions. She’s also a journalist and sought-after child safety activist who founded an eponymous foundation focused on sex crimes and internet crimes against children.
Her case, arguably the most famous of its kind, has formed the basis of numerous books and movies.