The Disturbing Story Of Nate Kibby, The New Hampshire Man Who Kidnapped A 14-Year-Old And Held Her Prisoner For Nine Months

Published May 13, 2023
Updated March 7, 2024

On October 9, 2013, Nate Kibby offered Abby Hernandez a ride on her way home from school — then handcuffed her before imprisoning her inside a shipping container near his house.

Warning: This article contains graphic descriptions and/or images of violent, disturbing, or otherwise potentially distressing events.

When Nate Kibby stuck a “No Trespassing” sign near a red storage container near his trailer in Gorham, New Hampshire, his trailer park neighbors didn’t think much of it. Kibby had always struck everyone as being a little off. But in fact, Kibby would use the container as a makeshift prison for a 14-year-old girl named Abby Hernandez whom he’d kidnapped on her walk home from school on October 9, 2013.

Kibby held Hernandez for nine terrifying months, during which he subjected her to horrific sexual assaults and threatened to kill her family and friends. Despite his vicious abuses, Hernandez managed to earn his trust, and when Kibby learned that he might face arrest for a different crime, he let Hernandez go.

Nate Kibby

New Hampshire Attorney General’s OfficeNate Kibby was later sentenced to 45 to 90 years in prison for Abby Hernandez’s kidnapping.

Before long, police descended on Kibby’s home — and the whole world learned what he had done. So who is Nate Kibby? And where is this infamous kidnapper today?

The Strange Beginnings Of Nate Kibby

It didn’t take long for Nathaniel “Nate” Kibby to build something of a reputation among those who knew him.

Born on July 15, 1980, he struck many of his high school classmates as aggressive and cruel, according to the Boston Globe. Kibby allegedly had a “hit list” of other students and claimed to be part of a gang called the “Vippers.” However, at least one of his former classmates later dismissed him as a “loser.”

As an adult, Kibby seemed to live a double life. He found work at a local machine shop and was, by some accounts, a model employee. But Kibby also developed a reputation with local law enforcement. He got in trouble for grabbing a 16-year-old as she tried to get on the school bus, for possessing marijuana, and for providing false information while trying to obtain a weapon. Many saw him as provocative and argumentative.

In 2014, he was arrested after a traffic dispute allegedly ended with Kibby following a woman to her house and pushing her to to the ground.

“He is not a normal person,” the woman later said, according to Heavy. “He is not right.”

Kibby also developed a reputation among his neighbors, who could often hear him yelling at his girlfriend of 13 years, Angel Whitehouse (Whitehouse was no longer with Kibby during Hernandez’s kidnapping). Kibby was also known among his neighbors for his frequent anti-government rants.

He was, many agreed, a strange man. But no one knew what Nate Kibby was secretly planning.

Then, in October 2013, 14-year-old Abby Hernandez disappeared on her way home from school.

The Kidnapping Of Abby Hernandez

Abby Hernandez

Conway Police DepartmentNate Kibby kidnapped Abby Hernandez just a few days before her 15th birthday.

On Oct. 9, 2013, Nate Kibby spotted 14-year-old Abby Hernandez walking home from school in North Conway, New Hampshire, and offered her a ride. At Kibby’s plea hearing, one of her lawyers later explained that Abby had blisters from wearing no socks — so she fatefully accepted.

Soon after Hernandez got into Kibby’s car, however, his helpful demeanor changed. He pulled out a gun and threatened to slit her throat if she tried to scream or escape.

Kibby handcuffed Hernandez, wrapped a jacket around her head, and broke her cell phone. When she tried to see outside the jacket, he shocked her with a stun gun.

“Does the tazing hurt?” he asked, according to WGME. When Hernandez answered that it did, he replied: “Well, now you know what it feels like.”

From there, Hernandez’s captivity only grew worse. Kibby brought Hernandez to his home where he bound her with zip ties so tight that they left scars, stuck tape over her eyes, wrapped a t-shirt around her head, and forced her into a motorcycle helmet. Then, he raped her.

For nine months, Hernandez remained Kibby’s prisoner. At Kibby’s plea hearing, her lawyers told the court that Kibby had put a shock collar around Hernandez’s neck, made her wear diapers, and threatened her with death if she ever tried to escape. He also showed her his collection of guns and threatened to kill her family and friends.

But Hernandez, in a bid to stay alive, sought to bond with her captor despite his horrific treatment of her. “Part of how I gained his trust is I went along with everything he wanted to do,” she told the Concord Monitor.

How Hernandez Escaped Nathaniel Kibby’s Clutches

Nate Kibby's Red Cargo Container

Zachary T. Sampson for The Boston Globe via Getty ImagesThe red cargo container in Nate Kibby’s backyard where he held Hernandez.

Kibby came to trust Hernandez enough to let her write a letter — though he threw out the first draft because she’d inscribed help with her fingernails in the paper — tell her about himself, and even enlist her help to produce counterfeit money.

“I remember thinking to myself, ‘Okay, I got to work with this guy,'” Hernandez told ABC News. “I said [to him], ‘I don’t judge you for this. If you let me go, I won’t tell anybody about this.'”

For a long time, Hernandez’s tactics didn’t work, though Kibby gave her more and more freedom, like reading books. (Reading a cookbook one day, she learned his name when she saw it written inside.) But in July 2014, something finally shifted.

Then, Kibby learned that a sex worker he had paid with his counterfeit money had turned him in to the police. Concerned that they would raid his home and search the premises, he let Hernandez go on the condition that she not reveal his identity.

“I remember looking up and laughing, just being so happy,” she told ABC News. “Oh my God, this actually happened. I’m a free person. I never thought it would happen to me, but I’m free.”

After a horrifying nine months, the teenager walked home — and let herself in the front door. Then, Abby Hernandez let the police know exactly what Nate Kibby had done to her.

What Happened To Nate Kibby After His Arrest?

Nathaniel Kibby In Handcuffs

Chitose Suzuki/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald via Getty ImagesNate Kibby in handcuffs before his arraignment. July 29, 2014.

Nate Kibby may have believed Abby Hernandez when she said that she wouldn’t tell anyone about who he was or what he’d done to her. But she and her family quickly notified the police, who soon raided Kibby’s property and arrested him.

“Kibby didn’t resist at all,” one of his neighbors told the Boston Globe. “He just walked out and they took him.”

Indeed, despite his earlier aggressive reputation, Nathanial Kibby seemed to be done fighting. He pleaded guilty to seven felony counts, including kidnapping and sexual assault, allegedly to spare Hernandez from a trial.

“His decision to accept responsibility was solely driven by his desire to not put (the victim) or anybody else through the rigors and continued stress of a long and drawn-out trial,” Kibby’s defense team stated at his plea hearing.

At that hearing, Hernandez was also allowed to address her kidnapper.

Abby Hernandez After The Kidnapping

Chitose Suzuki/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald via Getty ImagesAbby Hernandez was able to address Nate Kibby during his plea hearing.

“It was not my choice to be raped and threatened,” she told him. “You did that all yourself.” But despite what Kibby had done to her, Hernandez still forgave him. She continued: “Some people might call you a monster, but I’ve always looked at you as a human… And I want you to know that even know life became a lot harder after that, I still forgive you.”

After Kibby went to jail, Abby Hernandez started her life anew. In the years since, she moved to Maine and had a child. And when a movie about her ordeal came out in 2022, Girl in the Shed, Hernandez consulted on it — and took control of her own story.

“Obviously it’s a weird experience to have this happen in the first place,” she told KGET. “And then to have it made into a movie is obviously like an even weirder experience… But ultimately I did find it healing in a weird way just to have it out there.”

Nate Kibby, on the other hand, is serving a sentence of 45 to 90 years. He may stay in prison until the day he dies.

After reading about Nate Kibby, the infamous kidnapper of Abby Hernandez, discover the story of Natascha Kampusch, the Austrian girl who was held by her kidnapper for eight years. Or, see how Elisabeth Fritzl was kidnapped by her own father and held in the family basement for 24 years.

Kaleena Fraga
A staff writer for All That's Interesting, Kaleena Fraga has also had her work featured in The Washington Post and Gastro Obscura, and she published a book on the Seattle food scene for the Eat Like A Local series. She graduated from Oberlin College, where she earned a dual degree in American History and French.
Maggie Donahue
Maggie Donahue is an assistant editor at All That's Interesting. She has a Master's degree in journalism from Columbia University and a Bachelor's degree in creative writing and film studies from Johns Hopkins University. Before landing at ATI, she covered arts and culture at The A.V. Club and Colorado Public Radio and also wrote for Longreads. She is interested in stories about scientific discoveries, pop culture, the weird corners of history, unexplained phenomena, nature, and the outdoors.
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Fraga, Kaleena. "The Disturbing Story Of Nate Kibby, The New Hampshire Man Who Kidnapped A 14-Year-Old And Held Her Prisoner For Nine Months.", May 13, 2023, Accessed May 23, 2024.