13 Most Gruesome Kidnapping Stories That Shocked Humanity

Modern criminology surrounds itself with a dark horizon of history and is to no surprise an amalgam of fascinating cases of murder, rape, kidnappings, theft, and more. Well the subject of attention today clocks at the most shocking kidnappings that the world has witnessed till date.

On a personal front, kidnapping is the most atrocious form of crime that is performed on the victim and their families, sometimes giving a lifelong mental and psychological trauma to the victim. Sometimes many strange cases erupt, like abducting for reasons beyond ransom or cases where kidnapper and the victim develop empathy: called “Stockholm Syndrome” (the origin of the name goes back to an assault on a bank in Stockholm where the criminals were defended by the hostages).

As per The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (U.S. Department of Justice) reports, nearly 800,000 children are kidnapped each year, making it a long list. What makes this list stand out is the way these crimes were done. Many cases have entered the world history and it is time we too should know more. Let’s have a look at these 13 most shocking kidnapping stories that won the news at front pages.

1 The Den Of Torture In Cleveland

Most Gruesome Kidnapping Stories

The terrifying story of the three women in Cleveland (USA) whose abduction lasted a decade, does not cease to shake the world. The Puerto Rican house seemed abandoned, but victims were remained in captivity in basement. When the girls (Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesús and Michelle Knight) were kidnapped. at that time they were 17, 14 and 21 years respectively.

The culprit appeared to be an ordinary Ohio worker. As a result of the abuse, Ariel Castro turned out to be the father of Amanda Berry’s daughter. The minor was also forced into captivity.

The house in Cleveland is also known as “the house of horrors” and was a den of torture. Ariel Castro, a public service ex-conductor was charged with the case of ill-treatment. He used to chain the girls, sexually abuse them and allowed them to go to the bathroom only occasionally.

One of the girls became pregnant and Castro suspended her food and kicked her belly, trying to abort the child. Berry was fertilized and allowed the baby to live but the baby too had to suffer the fate. The families of the girls believed that they had died and the authorities stopped their search owing to absence of clues. One of the abductees called for emergency and they were then restored.  Thus their freedom and life was restored.

2 Hell Of 24 Years

Most Gruesome Kidnapping Stories


The whole world was taken to shock at the news of a man in Austria who locking up his daughter Elizabeth in a basement for 24 years. Not only he captivated his daughter but also sexually abused her during the entire time she remained 24 years in captivity.

The man was Joseph Fritzl, now 76. Seven children were born as a result of the rapes. Joseph built a dungeon in the basement of his house, that was accessible through a 300 kg concrete door. He had forbidden the rest of his family from approaching the place. The underground prison measured about 60 square meters in area and the only contact it had with the outside world was through a ventilation tube.

The children who emerged from the abuse went to live outside the home of Joseph. In order to curb suspicions, he said that “they had been left in front of the door in a basket” and he adopted them. The tales of abduction and abuse surfaced after one of Elizabeth’s daughters who was taken to the doctor and the doctor found a hidden note asking for help. Police was made aware of the doctors’ complaint and thus the scandal unveiled.

3 Woman Who Found Her Kidnapped Daughter Coincidentally

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Luzaida Cuevas was a Puerto Rican woman living in Philadelphia, United States. She gave birth to a baby girl- Delimar. The baby was about ten days old and it was presumed that she had been burned by the flames. This incident happened in December 1997, but seven years later, Luzaida Cuevas met a girl at a birthday party where there were many children.

Seeing the little girl made her heart beat like never before. She felt, she was the daughter whom she thought was dead. Luzaida told the girl that a piece of chewing gum had stuck to her head and cut some hair for a DNA test. It was thus confirmed that she was her daughter who had been kidnapped for seven years. Police rescued her daughter from the accused Carolyn Correa.

4 Being Raped For Eighteen Years

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Jaycee Dugard was 11 years old in 1991 when she was kidnapped near her home in San Francisco (California, United States). She was walking by the lake when a car began to chase after her. All of a sudden she was kidnapped by a man.

Phillip and Nancy Garrido were the one who kidnapped her and attacked her with a Taser (an electro-shock weapon). Jaycee spent 18 years in captivity, locked and raped by her abductor. She was locked up in a small bunker built in the garden of the captor’s house. Philip, one of the captors, had already been charged with rape and spent time in prison.

Social workers visited him in freedom and the authorities monitored. In total, about 60 social teams visited the house where Jaycee Dugard was held captive. In one of those visits she alerted her case but the complaint never worked. Once, she managed to get to a police station and report the facts and she could finally got free in 2009. The abductor and rapist were sentenced to life imprisonment.

5 The Niigata Girl Incident

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Fusako Sano was kidnapped at the age of nine by Nobuyuki Sato and held in captivity for nine years and two months- November 13, 1990 to January 28, 2000. The Japanese know this case as the Niigata girl incident.

She was a minor who had disappeared in 1990, on her way towards the home after watching a baseball game. Nobuyuki Sato was a 28-year-old mentally unstable and unemployed Japanese man. He forced her into his car, and detained her on the second floor of his apartment in Niigata prefecture, west of the country. Her kidnapping was also looked the Police as an abduction by North Korean intelligence network.

Sano told the police and her family that she gave up and accepted that life as her fate. Her kidnapper used to threaten with knife and beatings and even shared men’s clothes with her. She was served food thrice a day. He also cut Sano’s hair and since there was no bath upstairs, he rarely allowed her to take bath. The door was never locked and but Sano did not take a step outside the captive place for nine years, accepting that “I was too scared to escape and eventually lost the energy to escape.”

She suffered from jaundice. Although 19, she acted like a child and also suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Finally on July 10, 2003, the Supreme Court sentenced Nobuyuki Sato to serve 14-years imprisonment sentence.

6 The Lindbergh Kidnapping

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Charles Lindbergh was a famous aviator and the first to fly under the Atlantic without having any stop. The kidnapping of his son Charles Lindbergh Jr., a 1 year and 8 months old baby, caused uproar in the United States in 1932. The child was kidnapped in his crib and rescued for a ransom of $ 50,000.

Also called the “Crime of the Century,” this case brought the involvement of the President Herbert Hoover. Al Capone offered to help in exchange for money or his freedom. The kidnapping had left the country stirred. A reward of a fortune- $ 75,000 was offered by the family to anyone who found the child out.

However the case did not have a happy ending. A wanderer found the Lindbergh Jr.’s body after two months, in a woodland seven miles from the family home. The investigation which lasted for more than two years resulted in the conviction of carpenter Bruno Richard Hauptmann. He was executed in the electric chair in April 1936.

7 A Kidnapping For Music Promotion

Most Gruesome Kidnapping Stories

Frank Sinatra Jr. was kidnapped in 1963 at a restaurant in Lake Tahoe when he was only 19 years old. His father Frank Sinatra was an affluent man and used his fame and contact to receive aids and updates from official sources such as the FBI and from doubtful organizations such as the San Giacana Mafia. The FBI director J. Edgar Hoover was directly involved in the case.

After two days of negotiation and payment of ransom Frank Sinatra Jr. was released. The police ensured about solving the case and successfully did so. Also Frank Sinatra got his money back through the police. Although the case was resolved but it brought up stories telling that it was all framed to promote Frank Jr.’s musical career. The sad part is that it did not work.

8 Unsolved Kidnapping Case Of Amber Hagerman

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On January 13, 1996, a shocking case happened in the suburban town of Arlington, Texas, causing a commotion across the United States. A 9 year old girl named Amber Hagerman was kidnapped when cycling near her home.

The abduction was witnessed by a neighbor who called the police, and Ricky (Amber’s brother), who went home to tell his parents about the occurrence. The entire police force and community were moved to locate the girl, but only to find her dead. Her body was found floating breaststroke in a stream, with a cut at the neck. The murderer was never found and the case remains unsolved.

Devastated by the death of their child, Amber’s parents and the community sought more efficient ways to broadcast information about lost children. An association of Dallas radio managers has teamed up with local law enforcement agencies to implement a search system called the AMBER Alert Plan.

The AMBER Alert is an acronym for America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response and is a tribute to little Amber. The Amber Alert works throughout the United States. The system helped recover 20 victims in the state of California during the first six months of implementation.

8 Abduction Of A TV Host For $ 2 Million

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Patrícia Abravanel, the country’s most famous television host was in the limelight, but this time for no catch or party rhythm. On August 21, 2001, Patrícia Abravanel, daughter of Sílvio Santos, was kidnapped at the door of her family’s home in Jardim Morumbi, in São Paulo. The kidnappers called the same day and demanded a ransom of $ 2 million along with total secrecy from the press. The absence of the press from the case did not come, but the ransom was paid and Patricia was released next week by the kidnappers.

This was not the end of the story. Fernando Dutra Pinto, who mentored the whole kidnapping, was chased by the police and killed two police officers in firing. On August 30, Fernando invaded the home of Silvio Santos and kept the whole family of the SBT owner hostage.

It was only after assurance from the governor of São Paulo Geraldo Alckmin that Fernando surrendered to the police. Fernando died in prison after a few months, owing to a deep cut in the back and its widespread infection. A report was prepared by the NGO Teotônio Vilela Human Rights Commission, claiming that Fernando died as a result of torture, ill-treatment and medical negligence. Inmates of the unit where he was reported accused that Fernando was beaten days before he died and did not receive adequate medical attention.

9 A Famous Singer Who Faced 94 Painful Days In Captivity

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The gospel singer and songwriter Wellington Camargo was the victim of one of the kidnappings that mobilized the press and the Brazilian people. After being kidnapped in December 1998, Wellington spent 94 days in captivity and even had a piece of his ear cut off to pressure the $ 300,000 ransom payment.

Wellington was on wheelchair, a victim of polio from the age of two. The presenter Ratinho, at the time living the climax of his audience, tried to propose a 0900 that raised the money for the payment of the ransom. His attitude eventually had a negative reaction. While trying to raise $ 3 million with the public in national network, Ratinho did not know that the kidnappers had already accepted $ 300,000 in negotiations with the lawyer of the brothers Zezé and Luciano. As a result, a package was sent to the SBT retransmitter in Goiânia with a piece of Wellington’s ear and a ticket asking for agility in payment.

After rounds of negotiations a value of 300 thousand was paid on March 20, 1999. Next day the singer was released in a hole, 150 meters from a road between the cities of Goiânia and Guapó. Seven of the 10 accused of participating in the abduction were arrested on March 23 in Campo Grande (MS) and convicted in November of that year.

10 Abílio Diniz

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The abduction of businessman Abílio Diniz is interspersed with many conspiracy theories, ranging from the direct involvement of the PT (The Worker’s Party) in the action to the hypothesis of having served as a point of inspiration for the criminal faction of the CCP (First Command of the Capital).

Diniz was abducted on December 11, 1989, just six days before the second round of the presidential election. He was caught in a caravan by a white Caravan in the Jardim Europa region of São Paulo and then taken to captivity in the neighborhood of Jabaquara, in the South Zone. The kidnappers were graduates of left-wing Latin American revolutionary movements. They were Chileans, Argentines, Canadians, and a Brazilian: Raimundo Rosélio da Costa, a history professor from the state affiliated to the PT.

This case was more than enough for the police and the press to take advantage and attempt to weaken Lula in the run-up to the elections. Former São Paulo governor Luiz Antônio Fleury, the state’s Secretary of Public Security at the time, admitted in an interview to the Last Second Gen that police had donated PT shirts to the hijackers before showing them to the press. The presence of party campaign materials in the apartment in Jabaquara made the allegation strong and created the impression of involvement of the PT in the case. This fact ended up being denied days after the result of the elections.

The ten accused were imprisoned in the State Penitentiary of Carandiru until 1999, but were sent back to their countries after a hunger strike and a campaign supported by the Brazilian politician Lula. According to Fleury, the coexistence of kidnappers with Paulista criminals in the state prison system would have been decisive for prisoners like Marco William Camacho, Marcola, to organize a strong structure that would form the CCP.

11 Washington Olivetto

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The famous publicist Washington Olivetto was kidnapped in a way that was considerably similar to that of Abilio Diniz. Washington’s kidnapping was planned by Chileans, Colombians and Argentines, all militants of the armed struggle in their countries. They held him hostage for 53 days- from December 11, 2001 to February 2, 2002, in a tiny 3-square-meter captive at Brooklin, South Zone of Sao Paulo. Washington was located after the police received repeated complaints and claim from a medical student who lived next to the captivity and a Realtor of Serra Negra, 150 km from São Paulo.

Washington’s abduction was a result of careful 10 month planning that included his day-to-day spying, disguises, electronic gadgets, weapons and six addresses in the state. Sources in the police revealed that there were 15 people involved in the crime, and the entire episode expensed about $ 340,000. The redemption amount requested was US $ 18.5 million.

The accusation from the Realtor of Serra Negra took police to the place where Maurício Hernandez Norambuena, leader of the hijackers, was present along with the arms and ammunitions, disguises, and notes on the kidnapping. Norambuena proposed the release of the publicist if he was allowed to warn others who were involved in the crime. On February 2, after a power outage in Brooklin, the captive guards fled the scene suspecting a police invasion. Olivetto realized that he was there all alone and began to scream for help. His screaming was heard to Aline Dota’s stethoscope, a medical student who lived next door. She called the police and, finally, the victim was rescued.

12 Hair Raising Captivity Of 3096 Days

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Natascha Kampusch, an Austrian by birth, was only 10 when she was abducted on the morning of March 2, 1998 in Vienna. For 8 years she was kept in a basement hijacked by Wolfgang Priflopil. Her years of confinement in the dark basement finally broke on August 23, 2006 when she escaped her abductors.

Natascha became much more famous after the publication of her book 3096, describing her 3096 days in the captivity of the Portuguese. Years later a film was released based on her history. The book is a descriptive insight into her day-to-day life in captivity by Wolfgang, and the way her abductor tortured her by depriving of food and life outside the house.

In 2013 she admitted having been raped several times. Reports come in from various sources claiming that she had developed a certain “Stockholm Syndrome” (the case where the kidnapper and the victim develop empathy) for Wolfgang. In her book she reveals having felt sorry for the poor soul of her tormentor. The police claim that she cried inconsolably at the knowledge of Wolfgang committing suicide by throwing himself on a moving train during a police escape in 2006.

13 Kidnap And Murder Of Eloá Pimentel

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Sao Paulo was shaken to its roots after the kidnapping of a 15 year old student Eloá by her boyfriend Lindemberg Alves Fernandes (22) took the shape of the teenage girl’s murder.

The police, media and the entire city was in 100 hours of terror that ended with the girl’s life. Many term this case as one of the most famous cases of police journalistic coverage in Brazil. Also it made Brazil stop the habit of anticipation of any criminal outcome.

This crime of passion was motivated by the end of the couple’s 3-year relationship. Post break-up, the boy invaded the girl’s apartment in Santo Andre where she was doing a school work with three friends. Witnesses revealed that he was fully armed at the time of invasion and hence was easy for him to hold the girl captive.

The Special Tactical Action Group of the Military Police and TV stations began arriving at the place, making it a media circus, until the tragic end of Eloá with two shots on October 16, 2008. The case was finally closed in February 2012, with Lindemberg being sentenced to 98 years in prison. He remains imprisoned today in Tremembé (SP).