Abby Hernandez faces her alleged kidnapper in court


Zenya Hernandez, left, sits with her daughter Abigail as Nathaniel Kibby, 34, of Gorham, N.H. stands during his arraignment at Conway District Court in Conway, N.H., Tuesday, July 29, 2014. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

New Hampshire teen Abby Hernandez was seated in the front row of the courtroom as her alleged kidnapper was arraigned on charges of kidnapping on Tuesday.

Police have charged a 34-year-old New Hampshire man Nathaniel E. Kibby with one count of felony kidnapping of 15-year-old Hernandez, who disappeared on her way home from school nine months ago.

If convicted, Kibby faces up to seven years in prison, a $4,000 fine and up to five years probation. Bail has been set at $1 million cash.

At the request of prosecutors, the judge sealed court documents in the case that might shed further light on what happened to Hernandez during her disappearance. Associate Attorney General Jane Young said that few details will be released until subsequent court hearings because the investigation is ongoing and Kibby’s house is still being searched.

“Our goal now is to be able to prosecute this case to the fullest extent,” Young told reporters in a press briefing.

Neither Abby Hernandez nor her mother Zenya Hernandez or sister Sarah, who accompanied her in court, spoke to the media.

Kibby was arrested without incident at around noon on Monday, law enforcement officials said, after a week of extensive interviews with Hernandez and her family. Prosecutors said they had enough information on Sunday night to obtain an arrest and search warrant for Kibby and his home.

Just hours before Kibby’s arrest, in an interview that aired on NBC News’ Today show Monday morning, Abby Hernandez’s mother tried to shoot down persistent rumors that her daughter might have been pregnant or had run away.

“The majority of people somehow believe that she was pregnant, she was not, she did not run away,” she told “Today.”

This booking photo released by the New Hampshire Attorney General's Office shows Nathaniel E. Kibby, 34, of Gorham, N.H., who arrested Monday, July 28, 2014 and charged with one count of felony kidnapping. of Abigail Hernandez, who went missing in Conway, N.H., in October 2013, and returned home last week. Kibby will be arraigned Tuesday in district court in Conway, N.H. (AP Photo/New Hampshire Attorney General's Office)
This booking photo released by the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office shows Nathaniel E. Kibby, 34. (AP Photo/New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office)

 

 

 

Kibby lives in a trailer home in Gorham, N.H. His neighbors, who first learned of his connection to Hernandez’s disappearance when SWAT teams appeared at his home, seemed to know almost nothing about him, according to reports.

“He seemed to be nice, down to earth. He was very polite,” his neighbor Roger Lawrence told the Associated Press.

“No words can explain it. I was ready to wring his neck,” he said. “I was wondering what happened to that little girl myself, seeing it on the news, thinking ‘Where could she have gone?’”

When Abby Hernandez was reunited with her family on July 20, she was pale and thin, her mother said.

Without providing any details about how Abby Hernandez was able to return home, Attorney General Joseph A. Foster gave the young girl much of the credit.

“Her courage and resolve to return home in the way she did, I think speaks for herself,” he told reporters Tuesday.

In a statement by the family posted on a Web site run by their supporters, they said her health had “deteriorated” and they hoped that “soon she will be back on solid foods.”

In her nine-month absence, she made contact with her mother one time with a letter several weeks after she was last seen leaving her Conway high school, according to police.

Police have said that then 14-year old Abby ‘had no known means to facilitate her disappearance on her own or provide herself with food, shelter and other necessities.’

Just four days after authorities released a sketch of a suspect, based on information provided by Abby, Kibby was arrested and charged with kidnapping.

Abby Phillip is a general assignment national reporter for the Washington Post. She can be reached at abby.phillip@washpost.com. On Twitter: @abbydphillip
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