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The Terrors of Mrs. Braun

When Grandma Braun went missing, folks figured she wandered off. Then came the ransom note.

Shackled in the darkness, praying for warmth—and for strength—Heddie Braun lost all sense of time.

At one point, she thought she heard helicopters and wondered if she was in a flight path or near an airport. Try to remember everything, she told herself, so when they find you, you can be of some help.

Briefly, she had glimpsed her masked abductor that first night as he carried her across a moonlit field and flung her inside a small, white utility trailer—the kind used for snowmobiles. But she had no idea where she was or how long she had been there.

Her legs were pinned to the floor, the chains cutting into her ankles. At first, he had tied her wrists too, but she had cried in such pain that he eventually released them.

She prayed and dozed fitfully and tried not to think of the pain. Every now and then he came with food—orange juice and a hamburger.

Heddie tried to engage him in conversation, remembering her training from the home for mentally disabled where she had worked years ago. No matter what he has done, he is a person, just like me, she thought.

And so she thanked him politely for the food, asked if everything was going according to plan. But her abductor never said a word.

She knew her family would be searching for her. She knew she couldn't last much longer in this cold. She would bite small pieces of hamburger and press them against her stomach, trying to stay warm.

-from Kidnapping Grandma Braun
By Helen O’Neill
The Associated Press
March 29, 2005

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