NH man arraigned on kidnapping charge in Abigail Hernandez case

Nathaniel Kibby in court during his arraignment, July 29, 2014.

CBS Boston

CONCORD, N.H. - Nathaniel Kibby, a 34-year-old New Hampshire man, was arraigned Tuesday on a charge of kidnapping 15-year-old Abigail Hernandez more than nine months ago and was ordered held on $1 million cash bail.

Hernandez appeared in court alongside her mother for the hearing at Conway District Court, which lasted roughly 20 minutes.

Authorities say Kibby, who appeared in court in an orange jumpsuit alongside his public defender, was arrested Monday without incident at his Gorham home, about 30 miles north of Conway, where the girl was allegedly abducted.

Kibby did not enter a plea to the charge of felony kidnapping with a purpose to commit an offense against Hernandez. His attorney said that due to the arrest warrant being sealed and the lack of information from prosecutors, he was unable to explain to Kibby what he is being charged with.

Kibby's attorney requested that the judge unseal the arrest warrant but that request was vehemently disputed by prosecutors, who cited an ongoing investigation. The arrest warrant remains sealed.

If convicted, Kibby could face 7 years in prison, the judge said Tuesday.

A probable cause hearing in the case was scheduled for August 12.

Police allege Kibby knowingly confined Hernandez, then 14, on Oct. 9, sometime after she left Kennett High School in Conway to walk home. The teen returned home the night of July 20, but authorities have not explained the circumstances of her return.

Attorney General Joseph Foster said Hernandez provided the police with details of her kidnapping that led to Kibby's arrest.

Senior Assistant Attorney General Jane Young, who heads the criminal bureau, spoke briefly following the arraignment Tuesday. She said the investigation is ongoing and that searches are currently being conducted at Kibby's residence.

Abigail Hernandez in court for Nathaniel Kibby's arraignment, July 29, 2014.
CBS Boston

"It will be methodically searched and depending on what the search reveals, there may be other searches," Young said.

"We will continue to ensure that justice is done," she continued, adding that at this time, there is no information that indicates anyone else was involved in the alleged kidnapping.

Young would not comment on whether Kibby and Hernandez knew each other or the circumstances of the teen's return.

In an interview earlier on NBC's "Today," the teen's mother, Zenya Hernandez, said that when her daughter returned home, she was thin and pale and had "a look in her eyes I've never, ever seen before. And that's something that's haunting me, and I think will haunt me for the rest of my life."

Abigail Hernandez also issued a statement following her return, which was posted on Facebook, thanking people who searched for her and saying she believes their hopes and prayers "played a major role in my release."

Zenya Hernandez said she believes her daughter did not run away and didn't know the man believed to have driven off with her. The mother also said that rumors that her daughter was pregnant aren't true.

Several months into her disappearance, authorities revealed that the teen had written home to her mother. When the letter surfaced, FBI agent Kieran Ramsey said it was possible the girl had run away but that someone could be coercing her into staying away. Police have not revealed the contents of the letter.

Several in Kibby's neighborhood said they weren't well acquainted with him.

"He seemed to be nice, down to earth. He was very polite," said Roger Lawrence, 66, who lives in the same mobile home park as Kibby.

Lawrence said he met him last summer while Kibby was walking his dog. He said they exchanged pleasantries. He said he didn't see Kibby all winter, but saw him Saturday, walking past his home to get his mail.

Lawrence said he was shocked to hear of the arrest.

"No words can explain it. I was ready to wring his neck," he said. "I was wondering what happened to that little girl myself, seeing it on the news, thinking 'Where could she have gone?'"

Another neighbor, Raylene Beaulieu said she had not seen Kibby during the time the teenager was missing and had not seen him much before then.

"He pretty much kept to himself," she said.

She was surprised to hear of his arrest.

"I can see his trailer from mine, and I had no idea," she said.

Donald St. Germain, who lives three trailers down from Kibby's home, said he doesn't know Kibby.

"The only time I saw him was this spring when he had to fix the roof on his trailer," the 76-year-old St. Germain said.