On May 11, 1966 17-year-old Peggy Ann Bradnick, a high school junior from rural Shade Gap, Pennsylvania got off the school bus and started walking home with her five brothers and sisters.
Before they made it to the house, they were approached by a shotgun-toting man known locally as the Bicycle Man, in reference to his normal mode of transportation. He took Peggy at gunpoint and warned her siblings that he'd kill all of them if they tried to help her. With that, he dragged Peggy into the woods of the Tuscarora Mountains and disappeared. The kidnapper, 44-year-old former mental patient William Hollenbaugh, had spent 6 years of his life in prison and an additional 13 years in Pennsylvania's hospital for the criminally insane after being diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic.
More details (and a slew of photos) after the jump.
The abduction was the beginning of what turned out to be a painful 8 day ordeal at the hands of Bill Hollenbaugh. Most of the time was spent scrambling from one remote mountain hiding spot to another hiding from an ever-growing rescue search and rescue party. Hollenbaugh gave Peggy some filthy old men's clothes to wear and dragged her up and down the mountains and through creeks and rivers to various isolated spots where he'd stashed food and supplies. The entire time he made two things clear to her: one, that he'd kill her if she gave him any trouble and two, that he planned to keep her and to never let her go.
Eventually, FBI agents caught up with the pair and Hollenbaugh gunned down agent Terry Anderson (only the ninth FBI agent ever to die in the line of duty). Following Anderson's death, the efforts to capture Hollenbaugh were further intensified and he was eventually shot and killed on a nearby farm owned by the Rubeck family.
Following the eight day ordeal, during which she lost 14 pounds, Peggy spent a week in the hospital recovering from cuts, bruises, and severe dehydration.
In 1991, a full 25 years after the incident, the story of Peggy Ann's kidnapping was the subject of an NBC TV movie called A Cry In The Wild: The Taking Of Peggy Ann. The movie featured Megan Follows as Peggy Ann, while kidnapper William Hollenbaugh was played by David Morse (recently seen portraying George Washington in the HBO series John Adams), and murdered FBI agent Terry Anderson was played by David Soul.
Despite the emotionally and physically painful ordeal, Bradnick maintained a remarkably compassionate view of her kidnapper. As she said in a July 16, 1966 article in the Saturday Evening Post:
"It would be easy to say that I despise the very memory of the Mountain Man and let it go at that. But I don't believe that all the misery, sorrow and death he caused was entirely his fault, any more than it is a snake's fault when it strikes someone who steps on it. I'll leave it to the psychiatrists to diagnose what's wrong with his mind, but it seemed to me that he was a person everybody had rejected, not tried to help. Apparently nobody ever took an interest in him. He was about as lonely as a human being can get. So he was fighting back in the only way he could figure out, trying to capture by force the human companionship he couldn't get any other way. I just happened to be the one he caught."
These days Peggy Ann Bradnick Jackson manages a senior citizen center in Three Springs, Pa about a dozen miles from Shade Gap. In October 2008, she spoke at length about her kidnapping to the Fulton County Historical Society.
The black and white photos below appeared in the Saturday Evening Post in July 1966. The color photo, which appeared in the Fulton County News, was taken in October 2008, when Bradnick Jackson spoke to the Fulton County Historical Society about the kidnapping and its aftermath.
And if you're still hungry for additional photos, the LIFE magazine archives feature six more.