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Kidnapped teen rescued after SMS to mom

Shoaf was found by deputies in a 4.5-metre deep hole in the side of a hill that was covered with plywood.

india Updated: Sep 17, 2006 13:22 IST
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India

A text message sent by a kidnapped 14-year-old to her mother led to her rescue, when police found her in a hand-dug, booby-trapped bunker.

Elizabeth Shoaf's message also led investigators to name a suspect in her September 6 abduction - police were searching a wooded area where the girl was found for 37-year-old Vinson Filyaw, said Kershaw County Sheriff Steve McCaskill.

Shoaf was found by deputies on Saturday about a kilometre from her home in a 4.5-metre deep hole in the side of a hill that was covered with plywood. The bunker had a hand-dug privy with toilet paper, a camp stove and shelves made with cut branches and canvas.

McCaskill said the girl appeared to be unharmed but was taken to Kershaw County Medical Center for evaluation. Police have not interviewed her, saying they would leave her alone until she's ready to talk.

"We're just glad that she's alive and she's safe and that she will be home with us," her aunt, Geraldine Williams, told WLTX-TV in Columbia. "She's a good girl...We never believed that she ran away."

Investigators say Filyaw, 36, may have posed as a police officer when he met Shoaf. The unemployed construction worker also is wanted on an unrelated sexual assault charge.

"He dug this pit and this child was in this pit," McCaskill said. "He is linked to her disappearance and he's got to answer for that."

The sheriff said the text message the girl sent to her mother came from Filyaw's cell phone and deputies began looking for him Friday night.

First Published: Sep 17, 2006 13:22 IST