Despite arrest, Abby Hernandez's disappearance and return remain shrouded in mystery

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CONCORD, New Hampshire — A trauma specialist says she's surprised a New Hampshire teenager provided a name within a week after she returned to her Conway home from nine months of what prosecutors call "captivity."

Dr. Judy Cohen, medical director of the Center for Traumatic Stress in Children & Adolescents at Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, said it's not unusual for a kidnap victim to wait a week or more to reveal information about her alleged captor that leads to his arrest.

Abigail "Abby" Hernandez provided the name of 34-year-old Nathaniel Kibby of Gorman within a week of returning home, according to court documents recently released in response to an Associated Press motion to unseal the arrest warrant affidavit for Kibby. He was arrested the next day, July 28, on a kidnapping charge and is being held on $1 million bond.

"A week is a very short amount of time," Cohen said. "Any expectation you're just going to walk back into freedom and function normally as if these nine months hadn't occurred is rather unrealistic.

"After being held captive for that amount of time, you come to believe more and more that you'll never be free," she said.

Rather than protecting her captor, as some have suggested, Cohen said it's more likely she was trying to protect herself from the reality of what happened.

Some have likened Hernandez's case to that of Elizabeth Smart, who was kidnapped from her Salt Lake City home in 2002 and held captive for nine months by the couple who snatched her — Brian David Mitchell and his wife, Wanda Barzee. In a book detailing her ordeal, Smart said that even when police approached her she did not try to escape because she believed the couple's threats that they would kill her family.

Prosecutors have not revealed the circumstances of Hernandez's disappearance or her return. Kibby has yet to be indicted or have a hearing on the evidence against him.

Hernandez was last seen walking away from Kennett High School Oct. 9, 2013, en route to her home 1½ miles away. Her disappearance launched a nationwide search.

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