High-profile child kidnappings and abductions have sparked national attention for decades

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High-profile kidnapping cases through the years
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High-profile kidnapping cases through the years

Etan Patz

Six-year-old Etan Patz vanished on May 25, 1979, after leaving his family's Manhattan apartment for a short walk to catch a school bus. His picture was one of the first to be put on a milk carton. In 2012, Pedro Hernandez confessed to killing the boy, but his remains have never been found.

(AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

Jaycee Lee Dugard

Phillip and Nancy Garrido abducted Jaycee Lee Dugard in 1991 near Lake Tahoe when she was 11 and held her captive for 18 years. Dugard was forced to live in tents and sheds behind Garrido's home in California. She was found in 2009 after Garrido brought her to his parole meeting and investigators became suspicious. Phillip Garrido reportedly raped her for years and fathered two children with her. Phillip was sentenced to 431 years to life in prison and his wife was sentenced to 36 years to life.  

Nancy Garrido
(Photo by El Dorado County Sheriff via Getty Images)
Jaycee Lee Dugard
(Photo by Mark Boster/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
Phillip Garrido
(Photo by El Dorado County Sheriff via Getty Images)

Charles Lindbergh, Jr.

Charles Lindbergh Jr., the son of the American aviator, was kidnapped from his home in March 1932. A ladder was used to climb up to the baby's bedroom and a ransom note was left behind. The infant's body was later discovered near the Lindbergh's mansion in New Jersey. Bruno Richard Hauptmann was convicted of murder and was later executed by electric chair.

Charles Lindbergh Jr.
(Photo by BIPS/Getty Images)

Bruno Richard Hauptmann
(Bettmann via Getty Images)

Elizabeth Smart

Elizabeth Smart was kidnapped from her bedroom in Salt Lake City, Utah in 2002 when she was 14. She was found nine months later after she was recognized while out in public with her captors. Brian David Mitchell was convicted of kidnapping and raping Smart and was sentenced to life in prison in 2011. Mitchell's estranged wife, Wanda Barzee, admitted to her role in the kidnapping and was sentenced to 15 years in prison.

(Photo by Douglas C. Pizac-Pool/Getty Images)
(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Adam Walsh

Adam Walsh was abducted from a mall in Hollywood, Florida on July 27, 1981. The six-year-old was murdered and his severed head was found by fishermen on August 10, 1981. In December of 2008 a man long considered the lead suspect in Adam's murder was finally conclusively linked to the crime. The accused, a serial killer named Ottis Toole, died in prison more than a decade ago. Adam's father, John Walsh, went on to become a victims advocate and host of the TV show, America's Most Wanted.

(AP Photo/File) 

Caylee Anthony

3-year-old Caylee Anthony was last seen alive on June 16, 2008. She wasn't reported missing until a month later when her mother, Casey Anthony, told investigators that a babysitter kidnapped her. The young girl's remains were found in a wooded-area in December 2008. Casey Anthony stood trial for her daughter's murder but was acquitted.

Caylee Anthony
(Photo by Orlando Sentinel/Orlando Sentinel/MCT via Getty Images)

Casey Anthony
(Photo by Red Huber/Orlando Sentinel/MCT via Getty Images)

Shawn Hornbeck & Ben Ownby

Shawn Hornbeck (L) was kidnapped while riding his bike in Missouri when he was 11. Ben Ownby (R) was abducted while coming home from school in Missouri when he was 13. Hornbeck was missing for more than four years and Ownby was missing for four days when the two were found alive in 2007. Michael Devlin was arrested for holding the boys captive in his apartment and is currently serving multiple life terms for kidnapping and assault.

Shawn Hornbeck
(AP Photo/Tom Gannam, File)

Michael Devlin
(AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

Ben Ownby
(AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

Madeleine McCann

Madeleine McCann disappeared during a family vacation in southern Portugal in May 2007, shortly before her fourth birthday. The girl's parents had left her and her siblings to sleep in their vacation rental while they dined nearby. Madeleine is still missing.

(AP Photo/Sang Tan, File)

Natascha Kampusch

Natascha Kampusch vanished when she was 10-years-old in 1998 while walking to school. The woman broke free on August 23, 2006, after living for eight years in a small basement area under a garage next to the suspected kidnappers house in Strasshof, 15 miles outside of the capital Vienna. The suspect, Wolfgang Priklopil committed suicide after Kampusch managed to escape.


Sheila Lyon and Katherine Lyon

Sisters, Sheila and Katherine Lyon, never returned home from a Maryland shopping mall in 1975. Forty years later in 2015 imprisoned sex offender Lloyd Michael Welch Jr., was charged with their murders. The girls bodies have never been found.

(AP Photo/Montgomery County, Md., Police Department)

Kyron Horman

Kyron Horman vanished on June 4, 2010 after attending a school science fair in Portland, Oregon. The last person to see the 7-year-old was his stepmother, Terri Horman, but no arrests have ever been made in the case.

(AP Photo/Greg Wahl-Stephens)

Carlina White

Carlina White, seen here as a baby and adult, was kidnapped from Harlem Hospital in 1987. As she grew up she began to question if the woman who was raising her was actually her mother. After doing some research she discovered a picture of herself when she was an infant on the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children website and was eventually reunited with her family 23 years later. The woman who abducted her, Ann Pettway, was sentenced to 12 years in prison.

(Photo by NY Daily News via Getty Images)

Sandra Cantu

Sandra Cantu disappered on March 27, 2009. The 8-year-old was last seen skipping home. Her body was found several days later in a suitcase dumped in a pond. Melissa Huckaby, a Sunday school teacher and former friend of the young girl's mother, plead guilty to first degree murder and was sentenced to life in prison without parole.

(AP Photo/Calixtro Romias, Pool)

Lisa Irwin

Lisa Irwin was 10-months-old when she disappeared from her home in Kansas City, Missouri. The baby girl's mother believes someone abducted her from her crib in the middle of the night on October 4, 2011. The case remains open.

(AP Photo, Kansas City, Missouri Police Department, File)

Relisha Rudd

8-year-old Relisha Rudd disappeared on March 1, 2014. She was last seen spending time with the janitor of the homeless shelter where she stayed with her mother. That man, Kahlil Tatum later killed himself but Relisha has never been found.

(Photo by Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Sky Metalwala

Sky Metalwala disappeared on November 6, 2011. The 2-year-olds mother told police she left him alone in an unlocked car after running out of gas and when she returned he was gone. Sky remains missing.

(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)


More than 797,000 children are reported missing each year according to the U.S. Department of Justice. The pictures and information revealed in child kidnapping and abduction cases often stick in people's minds for the years that follow, including cases like the Lindbergh baby kidnapping and Etan Patz -- who was one of the first missing children to ever appear on the side of a milk carton.

Some cases have also sparked major change for the victims, their families and their communities. The kidnapping and murder of Adam Walsh in 1981 led to his father, John Walsh, becoming one of the most vocal advocates for victims rights and the host of the long-running criminal justice show, America's Most Wanted.

While the abduction of Elizabeth Smart in Utah helped bring awareness to the need for rapid response to kidnappings and resulted in former President George W. Bush signing a nationwide Amber Alert bill.

​​​​Click through the slideshow above to see more high profile kidnappings from around the world.

See another 'milk carton kid' recall life on the run after her kidnapping:

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