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Never give up, says kidnap survivor Jaycee

Famous kidnap survivors Jaycee Dugard and Elizabeth Smart have words of wisdom for the three women found this week in Cleveland years after their disappearance.

Dugard was abducted from a California bus stop in 1991 at age 11 and held captive for 18 years in a backyard, where she gave birth to two children conceived by rape.

She made a reference to the Cleveland case as she accepted an award in Washington yesterday from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

"What an amazing time to be talking about hope, with everything that's happening," she said. She urged the hundreds of people at the annual awards gala not to give up on missing children. "Just urge yourself to care," she said.

The Cleveland women, Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight, went missing about a decade ago, when they were in their teens or early 20s.

They were rescued on Monday after Berry kicked out the bottom portion of a locked screen door and used a neighbor's telephone to call emergency services.

Dugard, in a statement released through her publicist, said the women needed a chance to heal and reconnect with the world. She said that the human spirit was resilient and that the case reaffirmed that people should never give up hope.

 

HELLISH

Dugard's mother, Terry Probyn, said in Washington that she understood what the relatives of the Cleveland victims were going through.

"I feel the same relief and the same joy that I felt when Jaycee was returned to me safely after 18 hellish years," Ms Probyn said. "I never doubted for one minute that I would someday be reunited with my daughter."

John Ryan, CEO of the centre, praised the vigilance of investigators in Cleveland, saying they followed up on tips and never forgot about the missing women.

"There are other missing children out there that are only a phone call away from getting away from their predators," Mr Ryan said. "I have every hope and confidence that this will lead to future recoveries."

Meanwhile, Elizabeth Smart said she was overjoyed to hear about the happy ending for the Cleveland women. She said the ordeal highlighted the importance of the public staying alert and vigilant. She advised the women to focus on moving forward and letting go of the past.

Ms Smart said it was also important for others to respect the privacy of those women as they recover from the decade-long ordeal.

Smart was kidnapped from her bedroom in Salt Lake City when she was 14. She was freed nine months later when she was found walking with her captor on a suburban street in March 2003.

hnews@herald.ie


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