Family Crimes

Rosalynn McGinnis Speaks Out On How She Escaped 19 Years In Step-Dad's Captivity

“I knew that if I didn’t get out of there I’d either go insane or I would end up dying and leaving my kids with that man.”

Last year, Rosalynn McGinnis and eight of her nine children successfully fled from her step-father, who had held her captive for almost two decades. Now, McGinnis is opening up to People about the nightmarish scenario and her brave escape.

“I knew that if I didn’t get out of there,” she says “I’d either go insane or I would end up dying and leaving my kids with that man.”

Henri Piette, who tortured and raped, beat, and tortured McGinnis repeatedly over 19 years, remains at-large and has not yet been aprehended or charged with any crime. The FBI is currently investigating the situation.

McGinnis had been begging for change and selling homemade snacks on the streets of Mexico. After receiving rudimentary surgery for a severe medical condition and being commanded to immediately return to servitude, she had decided she'd had enough. Eventually, she raised enough money for a cab to Oaxaca City, where she called the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) to inform them of her situation.

“It was so nice to be able to tell somebody the truth,” McGinnis says. “I was still scared, but it was wonderful not to have to lie anymore.”

She went into hiding until multiple agencies aranged for the creation of emergency passports for her and her children to escape.

Since returning, she now works for the JAYC Foundation, Inc., a nonprofit founded by fellow abduction survivor Jaycee Dugard

“It took a lot of courage. It took a lot of bravery,” says Robert Lowery, the vice president for missing children at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, of McGinnis’ escape.

“She wasn’t only concerned for herself,” Lowery says, “but for her children.”

[Photo: Screenshot from People]

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