“The woman who was abducted at age 12, held captive for 19 years, and gave birth to nine children. But before we start, . It’s 2016, and Rosalyn McGinnis has just arrived in the Mexican border city of Nogales with eight children in tow. She waits nervously for the papers that will allow her to return to the United States, almost two decades after she disappeared from an Oklahoma school. Here is the story of her horrific ordeal.
Rosalind’s nightmare apparently began when she was a mere 10 years old and living in Springfield, Missouri. There, she’d enjoyed a relatively normal childhood, playing in the local park with her brothers and learning to play the violin. And as a student on the honor roll, the young girl had a future that looked bright. Even at such a tender age, Rosalind had big plans. In a November 2018 interview with KSHB Kansas City’s 41 Action News, she recalled her youthful aim, saying, “I wanted to grow up to be a veterinarian and teach violin. I had goals as a very young child.”
Sadly, however, her life was to play out in a different way. When Rosalind was 10, her mother, Gala, met one Henry Piet while distributing leaflets in their neighborhood. What’s more, soon, the pair’s friendship became a romance. And yet, Henry apparently had a dark side.
According to Rosalind, he started to sexually abuse her, a trauma that she says remained etched in her memory to this day. “It’s like life stops the moment you’re sexually abused,” Rosalind told 41 Action News. “You can remember every detail, everything, like where you were, the sun was shining,” she said. “It’s kind of hard to explain to someone who hasn’t been through that, but it’s like imprinted on your mind.”
Furthermore, Rosalind believes her mom, Gala, was aware that Henry was abusing her and claims that she did nothing to prevent it. And it seems that things got worse when Henry later relocated the family to Wagner, Oklahoma. There, the McGinnises found themselves cut off from their loved ones back in Missouri.
Henry soon married Gala too, but Rosalind says she never saw him as a father figure. “He knew exactly who to target and how to get what he wanted,” she continued. “He was never a stepfather. He was a child predator who moved into my neighborhood and targeted my family in Oklahoma.”
Roslyn claims the abuse continued, and then when she was 11 years old, events reportedly took a bizarre turn. Allegedly, Henry attempted to marry his young stepdaughter, asking his son to officiate a ceremony in a van.
It’s also said that he subjected Gala to at least one violent beating. By all accounts, Gala then decided to leave her abusive husband, taking her child back to stay with a grandparent in Missouri. However, Henry apparently caught up with them there and forced them to return to Oklahoma, where they moved into a tent outside the small town of Gore.
And yet, soon enough, says Rosalind, Gala tried to escape once more. This time, it seems that Gala fled with her children to a women’s refuge, but that this still wasn’t enough to keep Rosalind safe. And on January 31st, 1997, she was attending Pansy Kidd Middle School in the city of Poteau, Oklahoma, when a man arrived to collect her, whisking her away from her family to begin an allegedly terrifying ordeal.
With her daughter now missing, Gala reached out to Child Search Ministries, and soon, the organization had produced flyers bearing Rosalind’s details, along with the heartfelt plea, “Please help find this child.” The accompanying text also suggests that Henry might have played a role in the young girl’s disappearance. However, Rosalind appeared to have vanished without a trace, and just prior to her 13th birthday, the searches would ultimately cease for 19 long years. In fact, her whereabouts remained a mystery.
But then, in 2016, she re-emerged, saying that she’d been held against her will by Henry in Mexico during the intervening time. A shocking story then began to emerge. According to Rosalind, it was her stepfather, Henry, who had kidnapped her from school all those years ago. “I didn’t know what was happening,” she reported to 41 Action News. “The next thing I know, my mother’s not there, my brothers are not there, and none of my family are there, and I’m by myself with this man.”
Roslyn said that Henry had taken her to Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he rented a hotel room. And there, it’s claimed he managed to convince the terrified girl that she’d been complicit in his abuse and that she faced being sent to a mental institution if they were found. “That was the last thing that made me feel helpless,” she recalled. “It’s reported that, in order to disguise Rosalind’s identity, Henry forced her to wear glasses and dye her hair black.
He also apparently told her that she would have to relinquish her name and instead give her the first of various aliases. And allegedly, after months of being sexually and physically abused by her stepfather, Rosalind fell pregnant, although she ultimately lost the baby. “I was scared, and I was so confused, and I didn’t even know what was happening,” Rosalind said. “Looking back on what happened to me, I don’t even know how any human can do that to a child, what he did to me.”
However, by all accounts, the abuse continued, with Henry shuttling his stepdaughter between different hotels during those initial months. It’s claimed that Henry was then eventually able to smuggle Rosalind south into Mexico, and it was apparently there, a few years later when she was just 15 years old, that Rosalind gave birth to their first child.
Despite the arrival of a young son, though, it seems that they were living in abject poverty, sleeping in a rotting mobile home without access to proper utilities. What’s more, Rosalind’s brood continued to grow despite her desperate circumstances. And reportedly, while Henry spent what little money they had on drugs and alcohol, his stepdaughter resorted to begging in order to keep the children fed.
Rosalind said that at one stage, she’d raise funds by selling homemade ice cream, but that Henry kept her under close observation even then. Roslyn also claims that, on a number of occasions, she attempted to escape her captor.
Yet, it seems that he always managed to catch up with her, doling out harsh punishment to boot. “When I was caught, the consequences were great,” Rosalind continued in her interview with 41 Action News. “Eventually, at one point in time, it didn’t affect me anymore because I was used to it.”
News eventually at one point in time, it didn’t affect me anymore because I was used to it. Then, as the years passed, the violence reportedly continued. In fact, according to Roslyn Henry, her captor regularly beat her with weapons and other objects, even going so far as to shoot her a few times. On one occasion, she claims he assaulted her with a frying pan, injuring her so badly that her arm was sliced to the bone. It’s alleged that ultimately Rosalind gave birth to all of her total of nine children while in captivity, struggling to raise them as she dealt with an onslaught of abuse.
Then, towards the beginning of 2016, she met Ian and Lisa, a British-American couple who would finally provide a glimmer of hope at the end of the tunnel. At the time, Rosalind and the children were, by all accounts, living with Henry in the central Mexican city of Oaxaca. When they first encountered Ian and Lisa, they were shopping in a local supermarket.
The couple had two giant carts of groceries, one entirely filled with meat, which the children told us later was only for him and they couldn’t pay the bill. Lisa and Ian gave them money, and Rosalind was grateful. Following this, a friendship soon formed between Roslyn and the couple. They were desperate to talk, not the very youngest ones because they wouldn’t say anything until they got to know us, but they just wanted anybody to talk to because it was not something they were allowed to do.
Yet, the relationship was cut short when Henry moved the family to a remote mountain village in the Oaxaca region. Fortunately, however, Ian and Lisa remained in contact with Rosalind, or Stephanie as she was known by then. During a visit to the mother’s home, the British-American couple realized that something was terribly wrong. The children were dangling precariously off the balcony, a sign of their desperation for contact with the outside world. Inside the home, things went from bad to worse.
There were three stalls, for lack of a better word, all in a line with a raw cement floor. They had holes in the walls for doors and windows but no doors and windows. On the floor of each of the cubicles were very, very thin foam exercise mats, and these were the kids’ beds. Eight children living in three cubicles that were little more than walk-in closet size.
Then, on another visit, the couple apparently discovered one of Roslyn’s daughters lying in a fetal-like posture on the floor, and all the youngsters were painfully thin. You could just feel the desperation, she said, both in the children and in her concern for Roslyn and her children.
Lisa and Ian continued to visit them at their remote village home, and on one occasion, it seems that Henry revealed to them that he was 62, three decades older than the alleged mother of his children. The couple then grew increasingly alarmed. “He’s 62,” she would have been 14 when she got pregnant, this is wrong, there’s something seriously wrong.
At that time, Roslyn fell ill and required surgery to take out her gallbladder, and the mother later claimed that while she was recovering in a tent following a crude operation, Henry grew violent and ordered her to do household chores. According to Rosalind, that was the moment that everything changed. “I knew that if I didn’t get out of there, I’d either go insane or I’d end up dying and leaving my kids with that man,” she told people in 2017. So, when Lisa reached out to offer her support, Roslyn gathered the confidence she needed to finally break free.
Roslyn says that just weeks after speaking to Lisa, she waited until Henry was in an alcohol-induced sleep one day and seized her opportunity to escape. By that point, her eldest son had fled to America, but she grabbed her other eight children and jumped in a taxi. Eventually, the family arrived at Lisa and Ian’s home.
While Lisa and Ian subsequently looked after the young family, Rosalind began the process of arranging their return to the United States. One day, the mother confessed her real name. Lisa then quickly found Roslyn’s details online and realized that she’s the same person who had gone missing 19 years earlier.
The family subsequently made their way to Oaxaca to speak to the U.S. consulate in the city. However, officials there weren’t able to help, so desperate Roslyn reached out to Lisa, who contacted the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children on her behalf. Using the organization’s advice, Roslyn then took the children by bus to Nogales, a city some 1,600 miles north of Oaxaca, and there they at last received the documents they needed to make it home, leaving their ordeal behind.
They finally arrived in the United States later in 2016, with their wider family greeting them in Kansas City, Missouri. “Me and my kids rode an airplane together for the first time,” Roslyn told 41 Action News. “I was scared, they were scared, but they were so excited too.”
Yet, even though she and her children were at last safely across the border, Roslyn remained frightened that her alleged abuser would find her. She would tell me about the nightmares, Lisa recalled. Every single night, I swear to God, he was standing over me.
Eventually, Rosalind decided to open up about her experience in the hope that Henry might be brought to justice, and her wish seemingly began to come true in October 2017 when the authorities arrested him as he was trying to cross into the United States. In November 2017, Henry appeared in court facing charges of kidnapping and traveling with the intent to engage in a sexual act with a juvenile. So far, he’s denied the charges, claiming that Roslyn is his wife, and that the vast majority of her allegations are lies. As of December 2018, he’s in Wagner County Jail, Oklahoma, awaiting trial.
Meanwhile, things have been tough for Roslyn and her children. Apart from everything else, although the family is now safe from the alleged abuse, they’ve had to contend with financial difficulties. The cost of healthcare, rent, and tutoring for the kids have left the family struggling to make ends meet.
Yet, despite all this, Roslyn has bright hopes for the future and plans to renovate a house to provide her children with a stable home. Meanwhile, a GoFundMe account established by her cousin Dana Archuleta has so far raised almost forty thousand dollars to help them on their journey. And for now, it seems that McGinnis is simply happy to have escaped with her life, as she said to 41 Action News, “It’s a miracle I’m sitting here today.”