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How can you get away from an abductor? Kidnapping survivor Kara Robinson's strategy for getting away: Stay calm. Gather information. Wait for the captor to let down his guard. Escape.
On June 24, 2002, Robinson was 15 years old and at a friend’s house in Lexington County, South Carolina. They were planning to spend the day at a lake. While her friend got ready, Robinson was in the front yard watering the lawn.
Then, in an instant, she was gone.
Robinson was abducted in broad daylight by a stranger who had pulled up in his car and approached her with magazines, Robinson told “Escaping Captivity: The Kara Robinson Story," a two-hour Oxygen special that premiered September 26 and is now streaming.
“As he was leaning, I felt a red flag,” she said, adding that he held a gun to her head and threatened to shoot her if she screamed.
“I think I felt a moment of terror,” Robinson told producers. “But I knew I just needed to do what he told me to do.”
Her abductor, later identified as Richard Evonitz, told her to get into a giant plastic container in the car’s backseat. “At that point, my brain shut off my emotions. I just went into survival mode,” she told Oxygen.
But against all odds, she kept her composure.
“I wanted him to believe that I would be compliant," she said, adding that she knew she had to save herself.
Curled inside the plastic tub, she fixed her gaze on its serial number. “I had to get as much information about this person and my surroundings as I can, so that I can escape and so that I can identify this person when I do escape,” she said.
That identifying number, like other telltale details, she stated, got “locked into my brain.”
The kidnapper took Robinson to his apartment, where he sexually assaulted her and held her captive for 18 hours.
Throughout her harrowing ordeal, Robinson studied her abductor and her surroundings: A refrigerator magnet with the name of a dentist, small animals in cages, artwork on the walls, long red hair in a brush in the bathroom.
While her captor slept in bed next to her, Robinson saw her moment for freedom arrive as the sun rose the day after her abduction.
She freed one hand from a pair of handcuffs and her feet from a rope and crept to the door of the apartment. In addition to being dead-bolted, a metal accordion closet door blocked the main exit.
“I put my hand on the knob,” she said. “This was my moment to escape.” She flung open the door and dashed for freedom. “I just ran,” she said. “I didn’t look back for a second.”
Robinson sprinted toward a car in the parking lot and told the people inside she’d been kidnapped. She asked them to bring her to the police.
“I felt like getting into that car was my first step back into safety,” she said.
After her escape, Robinson helped lead authorities to her abductor’s apartment. The information she’d stored in her head proved invaluable in confirming his identity.
Inside Evonitz’s apartment, authorities made a chilling discovery. His belongings connected him to the abduction and murder of three girls who’d been taken from their homes in Virginia earlier: Sofia Silva, 16, in 1996, and Kristin, 15, and Kati Lisk, sisters who vanished and were found dead in 1997.
“Following my escape, I was able to go to Virginia and meet with the families of the three girls,” Robinsom said. “And that meant so much to me.”
In 2010, Robinson graduated from the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy, reported WISTV.com. She began working with the Richland County Sheriff's Department as a school resource officer.
Today, 19 years after her harrowing ordeal and remarkable survival, Kara Robinson Chamberlain is married with two sons -- and 219,700 TikTok fans.
She uses that social media platform and other resources to “spread hope and encouragement to other survivors,” she notes at kararobinsonchamberlain.com. “To remind them that they are not alone and that they are stronger than what happened to them.”
To learn more about Kara Robinson, watch “Escaping Captivity: The Kara Robinson Story," streaming now on Oxygen.
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