12-year-old Iowa kidnapping victim shares her story of escape - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

12-year-old Iowa kidnapping victim shares her story of escape

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 A young kidnapping survivor in Iowa is speaking out about her horrifying experience.

 Last month, 12-year-old Dezi Hughes got away from a man police say killed her friend - 15 year-old Kathlynn Shepard.

 "Just went to walk home and (he) asked us if we wanted to mow lawns to make money, told him we had to go ask our parents and then he said he'd give us a ride and then he didn't take us home. He told us we could call and then it just went on from there." It was May 20th-- Dezi and her friend Kathlynn Shepard were trapped inside this red pick up truck, driven by registered sex offender Michael Klunder. He was taking them to a hog confinement where he worked. "I don't know... I just kept thinking this wasn't right." Klunder got Kathlynn out of his truck and Dezi-- just 12 years old-- took a chance and made her escape. "I had to run though a lot of woods and cross fields and run through more. I couldn't really see any buildings." She made it to the nearest farmhouse, but wasn't certain she was safe. "I actually was kind of afraid because I thought he would be like near his house. So, I thought it was going to be his relatives or something, so I really didn't know what to do. But I had to take a chance and find out."

 The gutsy move paid off... a stranger took her in. Jeanette Andrews is Dezi's mother. "I actually thought when she called me, I thought that I had misunderstood her. I thought I was over-reacting for no reason. And, when I got there, I realized she was serious, and that was about when it hit me -- when I seen her when I first got there."
(Reporter): "How often do you think about that?"
"Every day... it's the only thing on my mind."

 Thoughts of that day fill nearly every moment and haunt her at night. "I don't sleep until like three in the morning. I can't sleep. When I do sleep, it's pretty crappy."

 Dezi and her family are already seeking counseling, but know that life will never be the same. (Reporter): "It must be so hard to try and return to a normal life and actually let her be out of your sight for a while." "So far, that hasn't happened-- really. She has to be with a boy, because obviously going somewhere with a girl didn't work."
"I try to forget that, but can't. It's gonna scar you for life, what can you do about it?"

 Michael Klunder was found dead. Police believe he took his own life hours after Dezi escaped.

 Every day, Dezi wears a necklace with a "K" pendant to remember the friend she lost - and her own close call.

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