Text Message Leads To Girl's Rescue

The trap door leading to a hand dug bunker near Lugoff, S.C., is shown Saturday, Sept. 16, 2006.
AP Photo/Jim Davenport
The text message from the missing 14-year-old South Carolina girl to her mother was a ray of hope.

"I was given some hope back that she was OK and we could get to her," said her mother, Madeline, on CBS News' The Early Show Monday.

It was the tech-savvy skills of the 21st century teen that kept the girl alive, reports CBS News correspondent Jim Acosta. Kidnapped from her school bus stop in remote South Carolina, police say she was in a 15-foot-deep bunker that Vinson Filyaw dug out of the ground and stocked with food. It had a hand-dug privy with toilet paper, a camp stove and shelves made with cut branches and canvas.

"You know, you think you have seen it all and when you see something like this, it's hard to describe, it's hard to imagine," Capt. David Thomley of the Kershaw Co. Sheriff's Office said on The Early Show. "And I have tried many times to describe it but it's difficult. It's nothing I have ever seen before."

Later Monday, Kershaw County Magistrate Roderick Todd denied bond for Filyaw, saying the suspect was a flight risk and "significant threat" to the community.

The hideout was booby-trapped. But police say when Filyaw fell asleep the girl was able to grab his cell phone. She text-messaged her mother, "Hey, Mom, I'm being held in a hole."

"I was scared. I knew it was her. I was thankful," Madeline told The Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith.

Filyaw surrendered Sunday morning to police as he walked along Interstate 20 near Columbia, about five miles from where investigators found the teenager a day earlier.

He was armed with a hunting knife, an air pistol and a taser gun, reports Acosta. Investigators say he had just tried to carjack a woman.

He was charged with first-degree criminal sexual conduct, kidnapping, possession of an incendiary device and impersonating an officer, and was being held at the Kershaw County jail.

The text message was the break in the case, Thomley said.

"We asked for assistance from the United States Marshals Services that provided us services that tracked the tower, where the text message was sent from, and through triangulation, they were able to put us in a spot consistent with where the text message said she would be located," Thomley said.

The searchers heard her calling for help, and it then took them only a few minutes to find her.

CBS News and other news media are not using the girl's last name because police have identified her as a victim of sexual assault.

  • Scott Conroy On Twitter»

    Scott Conroy is a National Political Reporter for RealClearPolitics and a contributor for CBS News.