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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Gorham man held on $1M in Abigail Hernandez kidnapping

CONWAY – A New Hampshire man charged with kidnapping a teenage girl nine months ago was ordered held on $1 million bail Tuesday as the girl watched from the front row of the courtroom.

Abigail Hernandez disappeared after leaving her high school in October and returned home last week. ...

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CONWAY – A New Hampshire man charged with kidnapping a teenage girl nine months ago was ordered held on $1 million bail Tuesday as the girl watched from the front row of the courtroom.

Abigail Hernandez disappeared after leaving her high school in October and returned home last week.

Nathaniel Kibby was arrested Monday without incident at his Gorham home, about 30 miles north of where Hernandez lives. He’s charged with felony kidnapping, a charge that carries up to seven years in jail if convicted.

Police said Kibby, 34, confined Abigail, then 14, on Oct. 9, sometime after she left Kennett High School to walk to her North Conway home. Abigail, who turned 15 a week after she disappeared, returned home the night of July 20, but authorities have not explained the circumstances of her disappearance or return.

Kibby was arraigned Tuesday and ordered held on $1 million cash bail. The only time he spoke was to answer, “Yes, I am, your honor” when the judge asked if he would seek a public defender.

The judge denied public defender Jesse Friedman’s request to unseal affidavits, search warrants and other investigative material before the hearing. Friedman argued that it was impossible for him to begin to defend Kibby without knowing the facts that led to his arrest.

Law enforcement officials said there were no other suspects and that searches of Kibby’s home were continuing.

Attorney General Joseph Foster said Monday that Abigail provided the police with details of her kidnapping that led to Kibby’s arrest.

Kieran Ramsey, an FBI assistant special agent in charge, said the investigation hinged on three factors: the community outreach, the team of investigators who followed up on every tip and, mostly, Abigail.

“Abby herself helped her safe return through her courage and resolve to come home,” Ramsey said.

Senior Assistant Attorney General Jane Young, who heads the criminal bureau, would not comment on what Kibby does for a living or supply other details about his background. He has a criminal history dating back to 1998, including convictions on simple assault, criminal trespass and breach of bail conditions, according to court records. He is scheduled to return to court Aug. 12.

Abigail, who sat with her mother in court, issued an earlier statement, which was posted on Facebook, thanking people who searched for her and saying she believes their hopes and prayers “played a major role in my release.”

Young said when the girl disappeared, she apparently had no way to get about or secure food, shelter or other necessities on her own. She said the teen “went dark” and could not be traced through social media for the duration of her absence.

However, police revealed several months ago that the girl had written to her mother. When the letter surfaced, Ramsey said it was possible the girl had run away but that someone could be coercing her into staying away. Police have not revealed the contents of the letter.

“Abby continues to work on restoring her strength,” said Paul Kirsch, a family friend. “I have never been so blown away by a child’s strength. This kid had found a way to survive for nine months.”