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Parents describe how girl escaped from captor's hole

Story Highlights

NEW: Elizabeth Shoaf's parents recall her as saying: "I found the police"
• Vinson Filyaw faces felony charges of kidnapping, sexual conduct, among others
• Teen found in hole booby-trapped with explosives not far from home
• Teen went missing September 6
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LUGOFF, South Carolina (CNN) -- On the same day the man suspected of kidnapping their daughter was arrested, Elizabeth Shoaf's parents described how she rescued herself from a 10-day nightmare in a booby-trapped hole.

"Hey mom, it's Lizzie," Madeline Shoaf recalled her 14-year-old daughter's text message as saying.

"I looked at the text, and I ran straight to (my husband) and told him, "It's Elizabeth. No one else has my cell phone." (Watch parents describe daughter's strength, smarts -- 4:00)

"She told me exactly where she was, down the road, which road it was ... get the police. She's in a hole," Madeline Shoaf recalled.

A man who lived a few hundred yards from the girl's home was captured Sunday morning after a massive manhunt. Vinson Filyaw, 36, faces several felony counts in her kidnapping on September 6, Sheriff Steve McCaskill said, calling the case "the most bizarre thing I think we've seen here in Kershaw County."

Filyaw was already being sought on an unrelated sexual misconduct charge and was captured, thanks to a woman who identified him as a suspect in an attempted carjacking in nearby Richland County, McCaskill said.

Investigators, aided by U.S. marshals, had traced Elizabeth Shoaf's call to an area near Filyaw's trailer, less than a mile from the Shoafs' home in Lugoff, South Carolina.

On Saturday morning they discovered Shoaf standing in the mouth of a bunker dug into the floor of the surrounding woods.

Her parents later recalled Shoaf telling them, "I found the police ... I found them."

Sheriff: Girl waited until Filyaw slept

The bunker where Shoaf was found was well-built and stocked with food, clothing and a toilet, as well as cigarettes and pornography.

"There was pornography wherever he was -- in his house, in his bunkers, wherever he was," McCaskill said.

The girl told deputies she was afraid to leave the bunker because Filyaw had told her the place was rigged with explosive booby traps. McCaskill said officers found homemade grenades, made from pill bottles and the gunpowder found in fireworks, as well as a flare in the bunker. (Watch sheriff describe "ugly scene" in bunker prison -- 2:15)

"He was a very calculating man, a very thinking man -- he did the best he could with what he had," the sheriff said.

Shoaf managed to get Filyaw's phone while he slept and send a text message, McCaskill said.

When Filyaw awoke, she told him she was only playing with the device, McCaskill said.

Filyaw faces kidnapping, sex charges

Filyaw had posed as a law enforcement officer to lure her into the woods, McCaskill said. Investigators found a shirt on which the suspect had drawn by hand the insignia of a sheriff's deputy's uniform. Shoaf's parents said the teen was suspicious of Filyaw, but went with him because he said her younger brother would be harmed if she did not.

Filyaw faces charges of kidnapping, first-degree criminal sexual conduct, two counts of possessing an incendiary device and one count of impersonating a police officer in the abduction, McCaskill said.

Filyaw's common-law wife, Cynthia Hall Filyaw, will be charged with aiding and abetting the abduction by providing him with food and fuel for the bunkers, the sheriff said.

McCaskill defended his department's decision not to issue an Amber Alert for Shoaf, saying investigators had no reason to believe she had left the area.

National and state guidelines for issuing an Amber Alert do not require evidence a child has been taken any certain distance away, but it is left to local officials to make the judgment.

Little news coverage was given to the South Carolina case until nine days after Shoaf's disappearance. Nonetheless, dozens of neighbors and friends helped search for her. The pace picked up after her text message on Wednesday.

Shoaf's parents say she is "holding up strong" two days after being rescued.

"She's strong-willed, and she's determined to get through this, and she's glad to be home. That was her only comment," Madeline Shoaf said.

"She doesn't want everybody asking how she's doing. She just wants to know that she's home, and she's with us."


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Vinson Filyaw was arrested early Sunday and will be charged with kidnapping and other crimes, police said.

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