An arrest has been made in the strange saga of a woman who told FBI agents her stepdad had kidnapped her at age 12 and held her captive for 19 years.
Henri Michele Piette, 62, was arrested last week in Mexico and extradited to Oklahoma, where he was charged with rape, child abuse and other offenses, The Oklahoman reported.
Rosalynn Michelle McGinnis, now 33, said she was able to escape last year from a filthy tent with eight of her nine children. She made her way to a U.S. Embassy, investigators said in court documents, the paper reported.
Her eldest child is grown and escaped before her, she said. They have since been reunited, she said.
In an interview with People magazine, McGinnis said she was speaking publicly because “I want the world to know. I want him to be stopped and I want justice to be served.”
She was beaten with a baseball bat, raped, stabbed, shot and choked unconscious during nearly two decades with Piette, she said.
He has been charged in Wagoner County. He “married” her in a van after kidnapping her from school, she told investigators. Her mother had left Piette because he beat her and the mom and daughter were living in a women’s shelter, McGinnis said.
McGinnis and Piette’s children were dragged across states including Texas, Montana and Arizona, according to FBI agents.
Ultimately, they landed in Mexico, where they lived in a tent in a remote village.
After 19 years of abuse, and recovering from a crude surgery to remove her gallbladder, McGinnis decided it was now or never.
“I knew that if I didn’t get out of there,” she told the magazine. “I’d either go insane or I would end up dying and leaving my kids with that man.”
Back in the U.S., McGinnis has been working the JAYC Foundation, Inc., a nonprofit began by Jaycee Dugard, who was abducted at age 11 in South Lake Tahoe, Calif., before she was rescued after 18 years.
She also has been helped by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
“It took a lot of courage. It took a lot of bravery,” Robert Lowery, vice president of missing children for the organization, told the publication.
“She wasn’t only concerned for herself,” he said, “but for her children.”