Elizabeth Shoaf, the brave high school girl who was held hostage for ten days in an underground bunker and managed her own rescue, speaks out in great detail for the first time to "Dateline's" Keith Morrison in "Into the Woods," a very special two-hour Dateline, airing Friday, March 7, at 9pm on NBC. Below she writes about the experience.
By Elizabeth Shoaf
Down in the bunker was hell. When I first went in, it was very dark and cold. I couldn't see anything and everything looked creepy. After Vinson turned on the lights, it was even creepier. It looked unreal, almost like I was in a really bad dream.
I saw a bunch of shelves made out of trees and rope, with food on them. Tables were made of coolers and plastic mini tables, along with a strange bedlike thing literally made out of trees, swimming floats and comforters. The toilet was made of a nasty bucket and a broken plastic chair over it with a hole in the middle. Later on, I noticed more shelves with things like batteries and a lot of electronic stuff that I still don't know what they were. There was also a chimney made out of aluminum that went out to the ground that he would actually use to make fires.
When I was first down there it was chilly. It was always like that at night, but in the mornings when I woke up it was dreadful. It was muggy and hot and I had to sleep in a single person bed with him and me in it and I could never get comfortable. Down there it was very dirty. No matter where you went in the bunker you would get dirt on you, so you couldn't stay clean.
While I was down there in the bunker I prayed all the time. Of course at first I prayed for him not to kill me. After a few days, when I had the feeling he wasn't going to, I started to pray about my family and for them to somehow know that I was OK.
When I started to try and escape I prayed for God to help me find a way to get out. Also I prayed for God to forgive me for whatever I did because I kind of thought I was being punished. I wanted God to forgive me and help me to get away and take me safely back to my family, boyfriend and friends. I also prayed a lot to God for him to help me to calm down and pretty much stay cool. When Vinson found out on the news that I sent a text message I of course prayed that he wouldn't kill me. After he left I thanked God so much for everything and I still do a lot. When I prayed it helped me to calm down more and to have hope. At the moment though, I sort of didn't believe that my prayers were being answered , because every time I prayed nothing would happen until finally the day Vinson left.
Without my family and boyfriend and friends and prayer I wouldn't have made it. I never really prayed a lot. I would only pray every so often whenever I was in need. And now it isn't any different I still pray the same, I also feel the same about God, too. I still worship him and believe in him like I always have.
I think that Vinson, the man that kidnapped me, is just stupid. He isn't crazy because if he was, he would have killed me or done something worse. He knew what he was doing and he got outsmarted. Not to be snobby, but he thought he could get away with kidnapping and raping me for 10 days and I, 14 years old, outsmarted him -- a 36-year-old man.
He is a sore loser to me and I will never forgive him ever in my life. He doesn't deserve it. He changed sooo much that will never be fixed again. He took my innocence. He took my trust in people. Now I get depressed. At one moment for a few months, I couldn't sleep. I had panic attacks and I still think about it all the time. I can just walk around and see something and it will remind me of when I was down there, and sometimes it can make me sad and some times it can even put me into a panic attack. He pretty much scarred me and I will never forgive him for it.
I hope this haunts him the rest of his life. He deserves worse than he is getting and he better be thankful that the cops caught him and not the public. I haven't written him yet and I don't plan on it. I don't care for him and I couldn't care less if he knew about how I feel about what he did to me.
Click to read Elizabeth's mom telling how she first heard her kidnapped daughter was still alive.
For those interested in communicating with the Shoaf family, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Keith Morrison compared the relative strength of Elizabeth Shoaf and her captor Vinson Filyaw.
Click here for complete coverage of this case.