The Night My Daughter Was Kidnapped

The Night My Daughter Was Kidnapped
Me and my daughter on the south rim of the Grand Canyon in 1998.

It happened when she was ten years old. We were on vacation headed to the Grand Canyon. Father and daughter together on a truly special adventure. She was the cutest little thing. We laughed and listened to music for hours. Then I would spend hours in solitude driving while she slept periodically. I remember looking at her sleeping peacefully as shadows and sun rolled over her tiny face as we cruised down the highway.

We had been to White Sands New Mexico that day, a wonderland for a child and a man. I cherished the joy and curiosity of a child so evident in her expression as she stood in awe of all that pure gleaming white sand. We took pictures and video as we talked about how cool it would be to show everyone her great discovery when we returned. I remember holding her hand and helping her up little sandy hills. Then holding out my hand to her pretending that she was helping me up those little hills. She would smile, knowing I was pretending.

We hopped back in the 4WD Honda Passport and headed for Phoenix. I wanted to make it there by midnight. She braced herself for the trip understanding we’d have more time at the Grand Canyon if we got started. She was asleep in the back curled up in a blanket my mom had made for her. I reached the suburbs of Phoenix around 11:30 PM.

I watched for signs and pulled off to a motel when I felt I was close enough. I pulled under the awning of the motel. I glanced back. She was asleep. Then I did the stupidest thing I’ve ever done in my life. I can only blame it on the fact I was a little groggy from the long drive. I left the keys in the Passport.

This is the 4WD Honda Passport that was stolen with her in it. This pic was taken a couple years earlier in May of 1996 in Colorado near Gunnison Canyon. We were on a butte. There’s a big drop-off just there in front of the vehicle.

The vehicle was only a few feet from the entrance. Things were quiet. Nothing was going on. My guard was down. Just a quick sign-in and then to bed. No biggie. The Asian lady at the counter said, “Need your ricense’s prate number.” As she processed my AMEX and I signed it. I went back outside to write down my license plate number. I glanced at the number, hastened back in and got the key and room number. I came back out and my vehicle had vanished.

I don’t know if anything like that has ever happened you. It is beyond the most surreal thing you can ever imagine. It’s amazing. As I reflect on it, it’s a paradox how fast and slow the mind seems to work. It was so unbelievable I thought for a split second that my daughter had played a joke on me. Sneaking into the driver’s seat and driving around to the parking lot or something. Then I thought, she wouldn’t do that she’s too little and she’s never driven before, I must have parked already. I took a step to look for the vehicle.

Then like a blinding light from nowhere, I was blasted by a reality-cannon into a horrifying realization. In a billionth of a nanosecond I had one last idiotic thought …someone’s stolen my truck! Then my world blew apart revealing my daughter’s sleeping form in a trillionth of a nanosecond. Like bats swarming from a cave, demons seemed to swirl around my lonely horror. For a moment, the God of the universe heard a cry from the pits of despair. I think echoes of that terrified crying voice still resonate in my soul or traces of psychological scars.

I ran back inside and told the lady what had happened and to call 911.  She was freaking out. I hung up. I don’t remember much after the 911 call. I remember feeling like I was deep down, beating the inside of an iron dungeon with a tack hammer, powerless and full of fear and rage.

The Asian lady and I were the only ones there. I remember feeling deaf. Then she tapped my shoulder. “I got call for you. It police. You come here …phone …for you! Hurry!”

It was the Phoenix dispatcher …I think. I took the phone and braced myself. It had been the longest 12 minutes of my life. All the person said was the Sheriff is on his way. I mumbled something. Five minutes later a Sheriff’s car pulled under the awning. I nearly tore the door down getting out to him. The driver’s side was away from me. He was a dad too. How do I know? Because he jumped out and said loud and evenly, “Your daughter is ok. We found her.” He didn’t waste time telling me to get in the car. I was pulling on the knob before he finished the sentence.

We drove a few blocks away, where two Phoenix police cars were parked lights flashing.

I got out and ran to her. The craziest things run through your head. The mind can flash your whole life before your eyes. You seem to be granted a unique but quickly fading ability to see remembrances, analogies, particles of thought all happening in nanoseconds, as if they drift in slow motion, without gravity then suspended for eternity and then they are gone in a blink. Voices and reality come rushing back in, you hit the floor and there she is, standing there, complete, looking up, happy to see me, my little girl, like a midnight sun.

The demons got sucked back into the cave.

When the thief had taken off with Kristin, she woke up of course. At first, she thought I was just driving fast. But then she heard him cussing and cigarette smoke was drifting through the air. Can you imagine the helpless shock and horror she felt? Where is my daddy? What’s happening?

The thief drove for a while, even after he realized she was there. He was slowing down at a red light, fully intending to run it. She grasped lever and seized the opportunity. She opened the door and out she went into the night. He sped away with all the replaceable things. She was ten years old shivering with fear barefooted and wrapped in her grandmother’s blanket in Phoenix Arizona at midnight.

When the thief drove off she looked up the road. In the distance, she saw the faint flickering of blue and red lights. Police cars. They had pulled over somebody. She ran to them.

The policemen had heard the dispatcher describing a little, blue-eyed, blond-haired gift from God (at least that’s the way I think of her). They were going about their business handing out a routine ticket when PRESTO! She appeared out of the darkness, barefoot, wrapped in that little blanket my mom had made for her.

For some unfathomable reason, God had sent a guardian angel. Why? For me? A father who’d suffered a momentary lapse of reason brought on by fatigue.  Of all the suffering in the world, God chose mercy for my daughter and me that night.

To this day it makes me cry tears of joy and wonder; the undeserved attention. God, the God of my childhood, The One my mother and father believed in. The Great I Am, the Author, the Finisher, the Alpha and Omega. Ancient of Days, had mercy on us, a puff of vapor in history.

And for that moment, God can deny me all I was ever promised. He has done enough. If tomorrow I die in an accident, it was worth it to see my God have mercy.

I can’t discount the efforts of wonderful people working together to put my little miracle back in my arms. The little lady at the motel, the dispatcher, the sheriff. For some reason, He has given us free will and we clash with our kind and Him. He expects us to use the hands he gave us. Everyone used his or her God-given will that night. We overpowered the darkness of ill will in Phoenix Arizona that night.

The media found out. They stormed the motel and the little Asian lady protected us. She wouldn’t reveal our room or phone number. I wonder if they tried to bribe her. The motel gave us a free night. The media stuck microphones and cameras in our faces the next morning. We were on the NOON news!

You should have seen these empty skirts and suits beg for an interview. I watched it later. I know firsthand how they twist things for ratings.

My company paid for the airfare back to Dallas. The local churches called to assist us. The sheriff gave my daughter some shoes. The media followed our cab to the airport.

The cab driver swore he’d have smacked that thief in the head with a baseball bat. He joked a lot and made Kristin laugh. I appreciated it. I could sense he knew her world had been disturbed, innocence violated. In a way, he was reassuring her there was good in the world. He kissed her on the cheek when we got out. “She reminds me of my granddaughter,” he said in a New York accent. He winked, “Good luck” and slapped me on the shoulder. He told me to keep my money for his service.

As we walked through the airport the media was in front and behind us. One guy was walking backward taking footage for the night’s news I guess. The crowded airport parted like the Red Sea for Moses. They thought we were famous. People were gawking at us. I thought someone would ask for an autograph but they couldn’t place us.

She slept on the plane as we flew above the clouds. I watched shadows and sunlight drift across her face. The forces of darkness are not always contained, I thought. I looked out the window and thought of the many stolen lives that were raped, tortured, drowned, shot dead, or thrown off a bridge with rocks making them sink to the bottom of the water. I could’ve been one of those parents left with that emptiness while remorseless murderers eat, work out, love, get married, write letters, listen to music, watch TV, and dream of parole. The murdered decompose. The loved ones visit the graveside on holidays so the departed won’t be alone.


We returned in triumph to the Grand Canyon three months later. It ranks as one of my greatest
vacations. I told my daughter “Never give up, don’t let things get you down. We were dealt a blow. You survived. Now let’s go back and shout at the devil. We ain’t gonna let him get away with it.”

Allen G. Bagby is an American author of fantasy fiction and an experienced blogger. His favorite and influential authors are David Gemmell, J. R. R. Tolkien, Bernard Cornwell, Terry Goodkind and C. S. Lewis. He is also influenced by movies such as Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Gladiator and the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Blood & Soul is the first book in the Creed of Kings Saga. It can be read alone. He independently published Blood & Soul in mid-2014. It hit #1 a couple of times and stayed five and a half months on Amazon's Top 100 in various related genres. He's currently writing the next book in the Creed of Kings Saga, the working title is Out of Oblivion. Website: Twitter: @aspeakinghuman Facebook Page: Goodreads Author Page:

3 Comments on “The Night My Daughter Was Kidnapped

  1. When my oldest daughter was about 3 years old, she was playing in the garage of our first home in southeast Texas. I was there but had taken my eyes off of her for just a minute, busy with some chores. A woman had parked her vehicle, walked up the entire length of our driveway, and was less than 10 feet from my daughter before I saw her and she saw me. She mumbled something, turned around, quickly walked to her vehicle, and drove away. Never saw her again. I am convinced she was trying to kidnap my child. I learned my lesson. It only takes a few seconds of negligence on the part of a parent for bad things to happen. I thank the Lord that He woke me up just in time from a momentary lapse of vigilance that I normally exercised around my kids. Thank God she is now a beautiful adult.

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