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KIDNAP GIRL KEPT IN BUNKER FOR 10 DAYS; Victim saved after texting mum from booby-trap pit.

Byline: By Karen Bale

A KIDNAPPED 14-year-old girl was rescued from a hand-dug, booby-trapped pit after she managed to send a text SOS to her mum.

Quick-thinking Elizabeth Shoaf got hold of her captor's mobile as he lay sleeping in the hideout.

Police searchers tracked the approximate source of the signal from phone masts.

They also narrowed down the search to an area around a quarry after Elizabeth's text said she could hear heavy machinery.

Officers found the girl about a mile from her home in Lugoff, South Carolina, in a 15ft deep hole in the side of a hill covered with plywood.

Elizabeth shouted out as searchers approached the bunker.

Just 24 hours later, police arrested the alleged kidnapper, 37-year-old Vinson Filyaw, after a woman said he tried to steal her car.

Filyaw had earlier escaped from police last week when they tried to arrest him on an unrelated charge of criminal sexual conduct against a 12-year-old girl. Officers said he got away through a tunnel leading from his bedroom to a shed.

It's believed he had been hiding out in a number of holes he had dug in dense woods around his home.

Sheriff Steve McCaskill said: "The big relief was when we found Elizabeth Shoaf alive and well.

"It is a great relief when you get a criminal of this type out of society and behind bars."

Elizabeth was last seen getting off a school bus on September 6.

Filyaw posed as a police officer when he met her and she was walked around in the woods until she was confused.

He then used handmade grenades and a flare gun to threaten her while she was in the bunker.

McCaskill said that the hideout - about 20ft long with front and back doors - was protected by a booby-trap. It had a hand-dug toilet, a camp stove and shelves made with cut branches and canvas.

McCaskill said: "I'm 6ft 4in and I could stand up in it without any problem. It was quite a bit of work he put into it."

McCaskill said Elizabeth appeared to be unharmed but was taken to hospital for checks.

Police say they will talk to her when she is ready.

Aunt Geraldine Williams said: "We're just glad that she's alive and she's safe and that she will be home with us.

"She's a good girl. We never believed that she ran away."

Police were tipped off to Filyaw's location after a woman said he tried to hijack her car outside a pizza restaurant.

The jobless construction worker was on foot - about five miles from his house - carrying a pellet gun, a Taser and a long hunting knife when he was caught.

McCaskill said: "Aircraft were hovering over, the bloodhounds were coming - so he gave up pretty easily."

Filyaw will be charged with kidnapping, impersonating a police officer and possession of an incendiary device.

More charges are likely to follow after detectives quiz Elizabeth.

This is the second case this year in South Carolina involving abducted teenage girls taken to an underground hideout.

Kenneth Hinson was charged with kidnapping two 17-year-olds in March and taking them to a cupboard-sized dungeon behind his home.

The girls escaped and Hinson was captured after a four-day hunt.


UNDERGROUND PRISON: The hand-dug pit, left, which can be entered by a trap door, top. Above, a crudely made ladder in the bunker. Right, Sheriff Steve McCaskill says the bunker is one of several APPHOTO
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Sep 18, 2006
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