(Updated) After much speculation as to why and how 15-year-old Abigail Hernandez disappeared on Oct. 9, 2013 in Conway, New Hampshire – and where she’s been for the last nine months – an arrest has been made in a case that always had more questions than answers. On July 28, 34-year-old Nathaniel E. Kibby was arrested at his home in Gorham, New Hampshire, shortly after noon.
Hernandez was missing for nine grueling months before suddenly appearing at her mother’s house in Conway on July 20, according to The Boston Globe. The New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office made the arrest announcement today, adding that Kibby is expected to appear in court for arraignment on July 29.
Also today, the teenager that many theorized might have been complicit in her own abduction, or perhaps ran away because she was pregnant, released a statement saying that she’s grateful “beyond words” to everyone who helped search for her these last nine months. Hernandez went missing on a routine walk back to her home after school – a walk she made plenty of times without incident. Adding to the speculation that Hernandez wasn’t kidnapped and there was no foul play involved in her disappearance, the teen girl had written letters to her family during the time she was missing.
“I wish that I could personally thank everyone who looked for me. My gratitude is beyond words,” she said. “It’s an incredible feeling to be home and I believe in my heart that your hopes and prayers played a major role in my release. Thank you all for the welcome home.”
Authorities are still actively investigating this case – especially now that an arrest has been made. Anyone with any knowledge or information about Kibby and activities that may have taken place at his residence in Gorham since Oct. 9, 2013, is asked to contact New Hampshire State Police at 603-271-3636 or the Conway police at 603-356-5715.
“Over the course of the past week, law enforcement officers have worked around the clock to ascertain the facts and circumstances surrounding Abigail’s disappearance and return,” the attorney general’s office said. “Abigail Hernandez provided the police with details of her kidnapping sufficient to warrant today’s arrest.”
The New York Daily News reported the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office as saying that Kibby was charged with one count of felony kidnapping. The attorney general’s office added that Kibby was arrested without incident.
Abby’s mother, Zenya Hernandez, is speaking to the press and trying to quell rumors that her daughter went missing because she was pregnant. The joyful mom confirmed that her daughter isn’t pregnant, did not run away, and that she didn’t know her abductor. The mom, who said that she was among the “happiest people on earth” when Abby came home last week, also said that her daughter was “alarmingly thin” upon returning home.
Zenya told “Today” that her daughter lost a lot of weight and was very pale. “She had a look in her eyes I’ve never ever seen before, and that’s something that’s haunting me and I think will haunt me the rest of my life.”
Update: Police are combing through Kibby’s Gorham mobile home and focusing their attention on a “bunker-like shipping container” sitting in his back yard, according to The Daily News. Kibby had purchased the storage container a few years back to house his then-girlfriend’s motorcycle. Police are still releasing very little in the way of new details about the case, and aren’t confirming or denying whether or not Abby was being held captive in that shipping container.
Kibby’s neighbors don’t have anything positive to say about the man known for trespassing on his neighbors’ properties. Last week, Kibby had been found guilty of criminal trespass in his New Hampshire neighborhood.
“He is not a normal person. He is not right,” Tammy Shackford, one of the neighbors he trespassed against, said.
Another neighbor, Michelle Smith, called the mobile home owner “scary.”
“You wouldn’t want to approach him on the street,” she said. “You just wouldn’t want to do it.”