A Pennsylvania woman who was kidnapped as a child has renewed her effort to find her abductor over 30 years later.
Kelly Heller was only nine years old in May of 1981 when a man kidnapped and beat her in a remote area of Upper Saucon Township. Heller, whose brothers delivered newspapers, told NBC Philadelphia she was inside her Bethlehem home getting the newspapers ready for delivery. Suddenly, one of her brothers came inside and told her about a man who claimed he was running a newspaper contest with money and prizes. The man, who was outside their home, wanted to meet with her. The unsuspecting girl left her house and then went inside the stranger’s car.
“He drove away,” Heller said. “And then his story changed to me that we were going to Saucon Park and there was a little picnic and there were games. We were going to play hide and seek.”
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Yet what Heller thought would be a fun day at the park quickly turned into a nightmare that would change her life forever.
“He grabbed me down below and he told me to take my clothes off and I said no,” Heller said.
Heller told NBC10 the man put her in a headlock and punched her repeatedly in the face before leaving her in a field in Upper Saucon. The beaten young girl went to Beverly McCartney’s home nearby and asked for help.
“I remember a little girl knocking on my door, covered in blood and barefoot,” McCartney said.
McCartney helped the young girl and called police. She never saw Heller again until three weeks ago when she heard a knock at her door.
“She asked me if I remembered the little girl who knocked on my door and I just said, ‘oh my God,’” McCartney said. “She said, ‘I’m that little girl.’”
While the kidnapping received plenty of press at the time, there have been no arrests after 34 years. That’s why Heller is now conducting her own investigation using social media.
“I remember going to the police station repeatedly and being interviewed,” Heller said. “I remember looking at mugshots and then all of a sudden it was just over and it was never discussed again. I never heard anything.”
The only Bethlehem police documents Heller could obtain were blacked out. She received a new lead in the case while speaking with McCartney however. McCartney claimed she received a police call several years ago about a sketch of a suspect in the kidnapping.
“They were gonna call her down and interview her and if she could make an identification there would be an arrest,” McCartney said. “And then I was told the officer that I spoke to was taken off the case. But I don’t know why.”
Heller says the only way to ease the torment she’s felt for 34 years is to solve her own kidnapping.
“The stories just don’t add up,” Heller said. “The more I dig the more questions I have.”
Heller hopes her social media campaign will give her the tip that leads to the breakthrough in the case. Bethlehem Police meanwhile told NBC10 they are searching through old police reports from 1981 that will eventually be available. They also said an ongoing investigation continues.