It’s every parent’s worst nightmare: something happening to their child. For Elizabeth Shoaf’s parents, they had to endure 10 days of absolute agony when their 14-year-old daughter went missing without a trace.
Lucky for them, Elizabeth is smart, and she wasn’t about to give up without a fight.
In 2006, Elizabeth was walking herself home from school. Taking her normal route, a man claiming to be a police officer approached the young girl and told her she was under arrest. The man was dressed in combat fatigues, and Elizabeth didn’t want to get into any more trouble than she already assumed she was. The man handcuffed her, then led her deep into the woods.
But the man was not a police officer. In fact, he was far from it. 36-year-old Vinson Filyaw was an unemployed construction worker who was looking for someone to capture and torture. He didn’t live far from Elizabeth’s home, which made her the perfect target.
“He just walked out in camouflage and told me he was the police and that he needed to talk to me,” Elizabeth recalled of that day. “And then I walked over and he handcuffed me behind my back.”
As for why she was “under arrest,” Elizabeth said Vinson told her it had something to do with marijuana, and that her 12-year-old brother Donnie had already been arrested.
“Then he put like a fake bomb. I didn’t know it was fake, because he told me it was real. But he put it around my neck,” Elizabeth told Dateline. “I was confused. I was like, kind of angry, because he had told me he had my little brother with the other people. And then that angered me, because I’m just protective over my brother.”
Instead of leading Elizabeth into a squad car, like a real officer would, Vinson led the young teen farther off the road and into the woods.
“He was asking me just like the oddest questions,” Elizabeth said. “If I had a phone and if I was a virgin and–Of all things for a police to ask me, that’s when I kind of was wondering what was going on. And then he said that I was a smart girl and I should have figured it out. And then that kind of got me scared. That’s when my heart started pounding because I knew something was wrong.”
Her intuition was right, and unfortunately, that meant she was in for 10 days of complete hell.