KIDNAPPED FROM HER OWN BED, STRANGLED AND DUMPED IN A FIELD TO DIE - THE REAL-LIFE STORY OF A SURVIVOR AND HER JOURNEY TO FIND HER ATTACKER IN "48 HOURS: LIVE TO TELL: AFRAID OF THE DARK"
Saturday, March 11, 10:00 PM ET/PT
Jennifer Schuett was just 8 years old when she was yanked through her bedroom window by an unknown man, strangled, slashed and left for dead in a field off a gravel road in Dickinson, Texas. She didn't die - and the kidnapper couldn't silence her. Schuett tells her emotional story of her lifelong search for her attacker in 48 HOURS: "Live to Tell: Afraid of the Dark" to be broadcast Saturday, March 11 (10:00 PM ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.
Anchored by Michelle Miller, "Live to Tell: Afraid of the Dark" is the inspiring story of a young girl's will to live, her unwavering focus on pushing police to find her kidnapper, and how through the trauma she found a purpose in life by advocating for other crime victims.
"The scars that I have on my body represent a time in my life when I was scared and left helpless," Schuett says. "But they also represent survival."
Schuett was alone in her bedroom in August 1990. She woke up in the arms of a man carrying her outside of the apartment building where she lived with her mom. He said he was an undercover police officer and that they would meet up with her mother. Both were lies. He took her to the field, tried to strangle her, and raped her and slashed her throat before driving away.
"I was just left to die in a field," Schuett says.
When she came to, she couldn't scream, couldn't lift her head or even move. "I remember feeling at peace with what was about to happen, which was dying," Schuett says.
She was found by kids playing in the field. Her assailant didn't count on Schuett living, let alone having an acute ability to recall critical details of the man. While in the hospital, Schuett, struggling with a fear of men and police because of the attack, began writing notes describing her kidnapper. His name was Dennis, she wrote. She was also able to give a forensic sketch artist a detailed description of the kidnapper.
Despite the details, years went by with no suspects or closure. The case was passed between detectives, and each time it felt like she was starting over.
"Every day, growing up in the town of Dickinson, was like, I was on a hunt looking for a suspect, thinking it could be anyone," she says. "This could be our new neighbor. This could be someone at the post office, someone at the grocery store. Is he watching us? Is he going to come back and finish me off?"
Then, 18 years after the attack, Schuett got a call from Detective Tim Cromie from the Dickinson Police Department. He was now on her case. Cromie vowed to do everything he could until the end of his career to get the answers she so longed to find. Cromie partnered with FBI Special Agent Richard Rennison to work on the case. Could DNA technology not available in 1990 help find the man? It took a year for the results to return, but in September 2009, 19 years after the attack, Rennison got a call: they now know who did it.
"I really wanted to be part of the solving of my own case," Schuett says. "I wanted to help because I was the only living witness. And I wanted to go to trial and see this through to the end. I wanted to be able to face the person that wanted to silence me, and show them that I came out victorious."
"Live to Tell" is a short-run series from the producers of 48 HOURS delivering first-hand accounts of extraordinary people who refuse to give up when facing death. 48 HOURS: "Live to Tell: Afraid of the Dark" is produced by Stephen A. McCain and Marcelena Spencer. Mead Stone and Gary Winter are producer-editors. Judy Tygard is the series creator and senior producer. Susan Zirinsky is the senior executive producer.
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