Live to Tell: The Birthday Party

48 Hours: A Federal Prosecutor Kidnapped at Gunpoint on his Birthday Recounts his Bizarre Hostage Ordeal

"Live to Tell," from the producers of "48 Hours Mystery," is a provocative limited-run series, featuring unfiltered, first-hand accounts from extraordinary individuals who came face-to-face with death but refused to give in.

On Jan. 21, 1998, the night before his 38th birthday, federal prosecutor Stanley Alpert was walking home in lower Manhattan, when he was kidnapped at gunpoint, triggering a 25-hour hostage ordeal which would range from the horrific to the oddly humorous. Now, Alpert recounts the bizarre events of his kidnapping - from his abduction to his release.

Voice on answering machine: "Hi. It's Stan. Please leave a message."

David Prager, Stan's Friend: It was Jan. 22, 1998. It was Stan's 38th birthday. He didn't come to work, and that's not like Stanley. Here's a very diligent person with a very high-profile job.

And he had an appointment that he didn't show up for and didn's call anybody about. A federal prosecutor was missing and nobody knew where he was.

A group of his friends were throwing him a party at a club in downtown Manhattan. It was his birthday. And he didn't come to his own birthday party.

Kathleen Flynn, FBI Special Agent: Did he go out? Did he go partying? Did he drink? Was he using drugs? Was he involved in some sexcapades?

You know, they were saying, "No." You know, he's kind of a quiet, mild-mannered guy. He wouldn't just disappear. He wouldn't just not come to work.

Prager: One possibility was that he was at home, either ill or sleeping or passed out.

When we arrived at Stanley's apartment, the superintendent didn't have a key. So one of the guys followed the building superintendent up the fire escape and the superintendent used his elbow to smash in Stanley's kitchen windows.

There was nothing that indicated that Stanley had been there recently. Then, somebody pressed the answering machine on his telephone.

Voice on answering machine: "Hi. It's Stan. Please leave a message."

Prager: You know…beep, happy birthday, from some friend or relative. And then the third message was: "This is your credit card company calling to say there is unusual activity on your card."

A couple beeps after that it was even worse.

A person called and she said, "I found your wallet in Bedford-Stuyvesant in the garbage…" And that was really scary. Bedford-Stuyvesant is a tough neighborhood in Brooklyn. What would his wallet be doing in Bedford-Stuyvesant?

Somebody said, "Maybe he's lying in an alleyway somewhere bleeding." And somebody else said, "Or maybe, he was dead…"

Flynn: This is unbelievable. There's got to be something more to this story. As we started to look into it, people were thinking this is really way too crazy to be true.