13 Times Kids Were Brainwashed By Their Kidnappers

Stockholm Syndrome is a condition that causes victims to develop a psychological alliance with their captors as a means for survival. It was formally named in 1973 after a bank robbery in Stockholm Sweden. After being released, the four hostages would not cooperate to testify against the men who had held them hostage. Instead of testifying, the former hostages defended these men. The FBI's Hostage Database System shows that roughly 8% of victims show signs of this syndrome. There are four main components used to gauge this; the hostage develops positive feelings toward the captor, the hostage and captor never had a previous relationship, a refusal by the hostages to cooperate with or assist police officers, and the hostage's belief that their captor exhibits signs of humanity.

There are plenty of situations where this is absolutely the intent of the captor, brainwashing, and then other instances where things just seem to work out that way. An example of this would include not trying to escape when there is a blatant opportunity to do so.

You may ask yourself, why would someone in their right mind stay, when they could escape? You could argue that after being abused, tortured, sleep deprived, etc, that these people are not, in fact, in their right minds. The will to survive is the single most important thing on their mind.

13 Nineteen Year Old Turned Terrorist

Patty Hearst was only 19 years old when she was kidnapped from her apartment in Berkley, California in 1974. This case was highly publicized, as she was the daughter of newspaper publisher, Randolph Hearst. She was captured by the Symbionese Liberation Army. Patty was put into isolation and tortured by this group. After nearly a year of being with them, she grew sympathetic to their cause and joined this left wing terrorist group. She began participating in robberies, propaganda announcements and other illegal activities.

She was eventually captured by the FBI, and charged the same as her captors. She weighed only 87 pounds, and was examined by a psychologist who said she was a "Low IQ, low affect zombie". Her actual IQ test confirmed that her IQ had dropped nearly 19 points during her time being held captive. Doctors determined this to be a classic case of brainwashing. However, she was found guilty of her crimes, and sentenced to 35 years in prison. She was later pardoned by President Jimmy Carter.

12 Fourteen Year Old Didn't Scream For Help

Elizabeth Smart was taken from her Salt Lake City home one night, and was not found until nearly 9 months later. During this time, her captor, Brian Mitchell moved her across the country both torturing and sexually assaulting her. Her story became the fear of every family, how could something like this happen to your little girl?

It remains somewhat unclear if Mitchell took steps to intentionally brainwash Elizabeth. Best guesses are that he did not, but that the torture and neglect that she endured had a significant impact on her personality.

Later, in a police interview, Elizabeth explains that there were times when she had an opportunity to try and run, and chose not to do so. When she was criticized for this, she went on to defend her position, stating, "I was under threat of my life, I was under threat of my family's life. And those two threats right there are stronger than chains for me. It is wrong for any person to ever judge someone in any situation."

11 Eleven Year Old Victim Turned Wife

Jaycee Dugard was kidnapped in 1991, when she was just 11 years old. She was held captive by Phillip Garrido, who filled her head with the insanity that was in his own head. He talked of "demon angels" who had allowed him to take Jaycee to fulfill the sexual desires he had, that society condemned him for. These were child molestation and rape.

Jaycee's relationship with Garrido became very similar to a marriage, in the fact that they had 2 children together. Garrido had such control over Jaycee that when police arrived at the home to investigate Garrido, she gave a false name. She also stated that she was aware he was a sex offender, but was a changed man and was good to her and her children.

Police noted that they children, ages 11 and 15, and had strange looks in their eyes, like brainwashed zombies. After Garrido was arrested, Jaycee admitted, “I adapted to survive my circumstance."

10 Twenty Year Old Imprisoned For 23 Hours A Day

In 1977, Colleen Stan was hitchhiking to a birthday party, when she was picked up my Cameron Hooker and his wife Janice. She later reported that she felt safe getting into the van, because it held his wife and baby. Once they made it to an isolated area, Hooker pulled off the road, put a knife to Colleen's throat, and forced her into a small box.

This case is held to be unparalleled in brutality by the FBI. Colleen underwent such physical and mental torture, it is amazing she didn't have a more intense mental break. Colleen was kept locked in a coffin sized box under the bed for 23 hours a day for almost 7 years. For a short time, in about the middle of the 7 year imprisonment, Hooker allowed her to be out of the box and to help care for the couple's children, and interact with the neighbors.

Even then, Colleen never spoke up, for fear that "The Company" that Hooker had warned her about, was watching, and would kill and torture her family. Hooker brainwashed Colleen to the point of which she signed herself into sex slavery in 1978.

In 1983 Colleen worked up the courage to leave Hooker, she returned to her family, but did not speak of the abuse. Janice, Hooker's wife, later turned him in to authorities. Hooker was up for parole in 2015, and it was denied. He will not be eligible again until 2022.

9 Ten Year Old Locked In Secret Cellar

10 year old Natascha was kidnapped while walking to school alone in Vienna, Austria. Wolfgana Priklopil was the name of the man who abducted her. He took her to a secret cellar, where she was kept for more than 8 years. Throughout her time in captivity she was physically beaten, mentally abused, and even starved. This kept her from having the strength to try and escape.

The most intense mental abuse during her time in captivity was a day that Priklopil shoved her towards the front door, beaten, bruised, and half starved. She was wearing only her underwear. He told, "Go on, run! See how far you get!" The embarrassment and humility she felt kept her right where she was.

Nastascha was also convinced by Priklopil that the windows and doors were booby trapped with explosives. At age 18, she finally worked up the courage to escape. Wolfgana Priklopil laid down on railroad tracks and killed himself just hours after her escape. So severe was the mental torture that Natascha had sustained, that when she heard the news of his death, she mourned for him.

8 Eleven Year Old Held Captive With Internet Access

Michael Devlin, a pizza restaurant manager, hit 11 year old Shawn Hornbeck with his vehicle, while Hornbeck was riding his bike. Devlin pretended to show concern, but then grabbed Hornbeck and forced him into the vehicle.

He was abused and molested for four years until he was discovered by law enforcement. They were investigating another child abduction, and it led them to Michael Devlin. During his imprisonment, Hornbeck had opportunities to escape, but never tried. When asked by People Magazine why he never tried to escape, Hornbeck said, “You’re brainwashed, it's as simple as that. I know people use that term a lot, but that’s what happens to you. It’s like you are on autopilot, only someone else is controlling all the switches. They control every little, minute detail in your life. Everything."

It was found that Hornbeck had posted a questions on a website created by his parents, asking how long they would continue looking for him. Now, years later, he said that when he hears of kidnapped kids being rescued it reminds him of the wonderful moment when he was reunited with his parents.

7 Seven Year Old Kidnapped And Enrolled In School

Steven Stayner was kidnapped at age 7, by Kenneth Parnell. His was taken while walking home from school, and driven some 200 miles away to another county in California. After the first few days of torture and sexual abuse, Steven told Parnell that he wanted to go home. Parnell stated that Steven's parents had signed over legal custody to him, because they could not afford to take care of all 5 children in the Stayner family. For 7 years he was tortured and molested. Surprisingly, he was also enrolled in school, under a fake name, but with his real date of birth.

As Steven hit puberty, Parnell was no longer interested in him. Parnell tried to get Steven to help him abduct other children, all of these attempts were unsuccessful. Steven later revealed he had botched these attempts on purpose. When Timmy White, age 5 was abducted, he came to live with Parnell and Steven. Timmy protested so severely that while Parnell was at work one night, Steven took Timmy and hitchhiked to safety. They couldn't find Timmy's home, so they walked into a nearby police station.

Parnell was arrested but would only serve 5 years of prison time. While both boys were returned safely to their families, things in the Stayner household were never the same. Steven's father claimed he didn't need counseling. After a bad relationship with his father, he moved out, and started his own family. This gave him some peace. Steven later died in a motorcycle accident in 1989, he was only 24 years old. Cary, his older brother, who felt neglected as his family grieved for Steven, was convicted of murdering 4 women, and is currently awaiting his execution on death row in California.

6 Three Women Survive A Decade With Ariel Castro

After nearly a decade as captives of Ariel Castro; Gina Dejesus, Amanda Berry and Michelle Knight escaped to safety. These 3 women endured unspeakable torture and sexual assault for nearly a decade. Amanda Berry even birthed a child by her captor while she was in captivity. The little girl was 5 years old at the time of the escape. Her mother, Amanda Berry is the woman credited with making a bolt for it, kicking in the front door, and escaping.

After years of torture the women were allowed to read headlines about their families looking for them, hear voicemails left by loved ones pleading for them to come home, and were then told they now belonged to Castro. The girls developed an alliance with one another, which Castro quickly tried to end by telling them things about one another and trying to turn them against each other.

Amanda asked for toys and teaching supplies for her daughter, and set up a classroom in the single room the 3 girls shared. She would include a 'walk to school' each day, where they would pretend they were crossing the street to school. As Castro softened to the idea of having a daughter, Amanda confesses that she developed a warmth towards him, a feeling which was incredibly confusing.

Castro was found guilty, and sentenced to 1,000 years in prison. He committed suicide by hanging himself a month after he was incarcerated.

5 Fourteen Year Old Becomes Pittsburg Milk Carton Kid

In 1996 Tanya Kach was seduced by the janitor at her high school when she was 14 years old, and experiencing problems at home. She thought they were developing a relationship, but soon found out that something was very wrong. He hid her in a second story bedroom for four years, allowing her to shower only once per week, and forcing her to use a bucket to go to the bathroom.

As she got older, he made her dye her hair, and changed her name to "Nikki Allen" he then introduced her to his family as his girlfriend. As this occurred, she was able to leave the house, but had a very strict curfew. As Tanya continued to realize that her relationship was not normal, she confided her true identity to a grocery store clerk, and asked him to send police to the house.

Thomas Hose was convicted and sentenced to 15 years in prison. He was just recently denied parole. Tanya speaks of her decade of imprisonment. "I was just so brainwashed. I feel humiliated now. Absolutely. Most of the time I ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches along with a banana and a can of Faygo soda pop."

4 The Manson Family

While Charles Manson never technically kidnapped anyone, it is impossible to have a conversation about brainwashing, and not talk about him. During the 1960's, he began collecting his followers. They consisted of mostly young women with troubled pasts. He asked them to give up their ego's and make self sacrifices for the greater good of the "Family." He would preach his ideas, followed by dosing them with LSD, which only increased his level of control. While these women were under the influence of this hallucinogenic drug, he would preach sermon and sermon about his racist  and murderous beliefs.

He kept the ratio of women to men 5:1, so the women could fulfill all of the men's sexual desires. He convinced his followers that in order to bring about "Helter Skelter" (his name for the impending apocalyptic race war) was to kill innocent people. The Family carried out a series of 7 murders under his control and direction. One of these murders was that of actress Sharon Tate, who was pregnant at the time of her murder.

Manson was sentenced to death, but this sentence was lessened to life imprisonment after California abolished the death penalty.

3 Thirteen Year Old Abducted

Jessyca was abducted by a Stephen Oliver, who was her creative writing "mentor" and an aid at Jessyca's school. Knowing who had taken her didn't ease the pain for her family. It was almost more painful to know who, and still not be able to find her.

Stephen invented a new identity for Jessyca, who he kept with him in a hotel. He cut and dyed her hair, and told everyone she was his daughter. While Jessyca was only in captivity for 3 1/2 months, the pain that she endured can only be understood as brainwashing. She was abused mentally, physically and sexually. Stephen would threaten to kill her parents, or siblings if she spoke out and said a word to anyone who was at the hotel.

After hearing numerous times that her parents did not want her back, Jessyca realized that it was useless to resist Stephen, and only gave her more severe beatings. Her rescue came when a hotel employee saw an episode of "America's Most Wanted" which confirmed the suspicions he had about Stephen being a shady character. He contacted police immediately. Jessyca was reunited with her family, and Stephen was sentenced to 40 years.

2 Found Before Brainwashing Was Completed

Katie Beers, age 9, was kidnapped 2 days before her tenth birthday. Her neighbor, John Esposito, lured Katie with promises of birthday presents. Once at his home, he sealed her in a concrete bunker, 6 foot by 7 foot, that was in his garage. There was a toilet, TV set, mattress, and chains that were used to keep Katie restrained.

As police were led to the bunker by Esposito, they uncovered the trap door and found Katie alive, a mere 17 days after she had been taken. Katie later divulged that Esposito had raped her, although he was not formally charged with the assault at the time of trial.

Katie was sent to live with a foster family,  after authorities realized she was being neglected by her mother, and abused by her father before ever being taken captive by John Esposito. Katie escaped a situation that was set up to include abuse and brainwashing, but unlike many other victims, she was rescued before she could experience the full level of torture that was sure to await her.

1 Fourteen Year Old Tricked, Then Out-Smarted Her Captor

In 2006 Elizabeth was kidnapped by Vinson Filyaw while walking home from her school bus. Vinson was dressed as a police officer, and told Elizabeth that her family was under suspicion for growing marijuana, and that she needed to come with him and answer some questions. Elizabeth knew her family was not participating in any illegal activity, but since she had never dealt with the police before, she thought it would be best to cooperate.

When questions from Vinson turned to her virginity she knew she had been tricked, but by then, it was too late. She was held captive in an underground bunker, one that was booby-trapped. She was hung from the ceiling by her neck, and sexually assaulted. After 10 days, Vinson left his cell phone laying around, and Elizabeth used it to send a text message to her mother. Police arrived, and rescued her.

Sources: Ranker.com, DailyMail.co.uk

More in Incredible