The ones who got away: Victims who escaped serial killers

Serial killers get off by inflicting harm to others, and revel in ending a person’s life. They enjoy the hunt and chase, and relish watching the light flicker out of their victim’s eyes as they take their final breaths.

Few have ever encountered a serial killer and lived to tell about it. These are the stories about those who have. These are the lucky ones—the victims whose strength, bravery, and will to live was stronger than the evil that attempted to take their lives. These are the ones who got away.

Kala Brown

Kala Brown and her boyfriend, Charles Carver, went missing on August 31, 2016. Some had assumed the pair ran off together, while others knew something was wrong. Several months later, authorities discovered a beaten down Brown chained up like a dog on the property sex offender Todd Kohlhepp.

Before being chained up like an animal, Brown watched the love of her life die after a shot to the head. Thankfully, police received a tip to search Koelhepp’s property, and they discovered the missing woman as she frantically screamed from inside her prison.

Brown was forced inside the shipping container for most of the time during her three-month captivity, except for when Kohlhepp took her for walks. Fortunately, Brown was saved from the nightmare, but police found two more buried bodies on the property—and learned Kohlhepp was responsible for a quadruple murder in South Carolina.

Teresa Thornhill

Teresa Thornhill was just 15-years-old when her life completely changed. She was walking home in 1988, when someone violently grabbed her. The person tried shoving her into their van, but she bit him, grabbed his crotch, and screamed at the top of her lungs. The man let her go, and she was able to report the incident to police. That man was Robert Black, a Scottish serial killer who murdered four other girls.

Black was also a pedophile, and his victims were between the ages of 5 and 11. He kidnapped and murdered young girls across the UK between 1981-1986. Black never admitted to his crimes, even after he was caught. He died of a heart attack in prison in 2016.

Lisa Noland

Lisa Noland had just finished a long night at work when she was snatched off her bike on the way home. The 17-year-old had a gun pointed to her head when she was dragged across a street and forced into the passenger-side of a stranger’s car. Fear flowed through her body as she was blindfolded and her hands and feet were bound. She was sexually assaulted and abused for over 26 hours.

Despite the horror, Noland remained calm. She spoke with her captor and gained his trust. She made him think she liked him, and that she liked what he was doing to her—and it worked. Her captor removed his mask so she could view his face, and then he dropped her off at home as if nothing had ever happened.

Noland reported the incident to police and helped capture the man; the man named Bobby Joe Long. At that time, Long had assaulted over 50 other women. He was sentenced to death for his crimes.

Shawn Grate

A kidnapped woman managed to call police for help—while she was lying next to her captor. Her whispered pleas for help were heard in her 911 call to police, where she described her assailant sleeping next to her, and explained where she was.

She was kidnapped, taken to a vacant home, and sexually assaulted by an unknown man. She had been tied up, but was able to free herself partially to make the call for help. The woman stayed on the phone until police arrived and rescued her. Her captor, Shawn Grate, was arrested, and two bodies were discovered in his home.

Kate Moir

A drunken night out led to a horrifying ordeal for 17-year-old Kate Moir. Out of her wits after leaving a bar, she accepted a ride home from an assuming couple, David and Catherine Birnie. Moir quickly learned the couple wasn’t harmless after all, and realized she was in danger.

The couple were in the middle of a 4-week killing spree of young women in Australia, dubbed by the media as “The Moorhouse Murders.” When they picked up Moir they decided they were going to take her home with them. They raped the young girl for hours, forced her to smoke weed and take showers, and they shackled her to their bed.

Moir was convinced she was going to die. She even wrote goodbye letters to family. Until, one day she saw an opportunity to escape.

When David was at work and Catherine was left alone with Moir, someone knocked on the front door. The distraction gave Moir enough time to escape through a bedroom window and run for help. Police were alerted and the Moorhouse Murders came to an end.

Whitney Bennett

A divine intervention saved 16-year-old Whitney Bennett from becoming Richard “The Night Stalker” Ramirez’s next victim. On July 5, 1986, the killer broke into Bennett’s home and brutally attacked her with a tire iron. He pulled out a telephone cord to strangle her to death, but sparks began flying. Ramirez took it as a sign from God that the young woman wasn’t intended to die that day, so he stopped. He fled the scene, leaving a bloody footprint behind—and Bennett alive.

Kathy Kleiner

While notorious lady-killer Ted Bundy was on the run in 1978, he decided to break into a Florida State University sorority house. He assaulted three women living inside in the most horrific ways, but one of the victims miraculously survived.

Kathy Kleiner was beaten with a club, had her jaw broken, and her should severely injured. However, she survived Bundy’s vicious attack.

Tracy Edwards

Tracy Edwards made the fateful decision to go home with a stranger he met at a bar on July 22, 1991. When he arrived at the man’s apartment, he immediately felt uneasy. It smelled strange, and it was cluttered with barrels. Then his date began acting weird too.

While watching a movie, the man laid his head onto Edwards’ chest. He told him he was going to cut out his heart and eat it. Edwards remained calm, and played along with the man. He kept him talking, and essentially stalled him from carrying out his twisted fantasies.

Edwards finally took a chance and punched the man in the face, knocking him backwards. This gave him the opportunity to escape the apartment and report the guy to police. When police arrived, they discovered 17 dismembered bodies scattered throughout the guy’s apartment. The guy was Jeffrey Dahmer.

Dahmer was arrested and would later be murdered in prison.

Cynthia Vigil

Cynthia Vigil Jaramillo thought she was under arrest when she was approached by a police officer. He placed handcuffs on her and told her she was in trouble for solicitation. The problem was, the man wasn’t a police officer; the man was sexual sadist David Parker Ray.

Ray brought Vigil back to his trailer which was full of torture devices. He and his accomplice, Cindy Hendy, tortured and sexually assaulted Vigil for three days. Although she was living a nightmare, Vigil remained alert and strong.

Vigil’s strength helped her seize her only opportunity to escape. When Ray left his victim in the care of Hendy, Vigil waited for the woman to become distracted. She was able to free herself from the bed she was chained too by grabbing a key nearby. She smashed a light over Hendy’s head and ran from the trailer wearing only a dog collar around her neck.

The battered woman found help and police uncovered the horrifying truth behind the walls of Ray’s mobile home. The man, now known as “The Toy-Box Killer,” is believed to have anywhere from 40 to 60 victims; however, no bodies have been recovered.

Thanks to the bravery of Vigil, his torture games were put to an end, ultimately saving any future women from becoming his prey.