Woman kidnapped from the front steps of her house when she was two years old recalls the terrifying ordeal – and her miracle rescue by three teenage boys wagging school

  • Woman who was kidnapped aged two broke silence on terrifying ordeal
  • Kathy Wrethman was in front yard of Sydney home when she was taken in 1968
  • She remembered very little but recalled being told to go to sleep by man 

A woman who was kidnapped when she was two years old has recalled her feelings of terror while being kept prisoner by her abductor. 

Kathy Wrethman was sitting on the front steps of her house at Dundas, in Sydney’s west, when she was taken on June 12, 1968.

The abduction sparked a massive police search with the army joining the hunt before she was found by three teenagers wagging school three days later.

Kathy has broken her silence to recount the terrifying ordeal saying she remembered being kept in a room and told by a man to go to sleep.

A woman who was kidnapped when she was two years old before she was rescued has recalled her feelings of terror while being kept prisoner by her abductor

Kathy Wrethman was sitting on the front steps of her house at Dundas, in Sydney’s west, when she was taken on June 12, 1968

‘And I remember being terrified of a dog, an Alsatian. It was under my bed and kept licking my face,’ she told 7Life. 

Kathy and her family had only arrived in Australia three weeks earlier after migrating from the UK.

Kathy was sitting on the front steps of her house and eating lollies on the day she was kidnapped.

She had just returned home with her mother after dropping her brother Angus off at school and her baby sister Maria was sleeping in the house.

Her mother ducked into the house to quickly go to the bathroom and returned to the front yard to find her daughter missing.

A local said they had spotted Kathy walking hand in hand with a red-haired man and noticed the little girl was crying – but was told by the man that Kathy ‘had fallen off a slide’.

Kathy said she had little recollection of her abduction but remembered upsetting someone when she was ‘fiddling’ with something while sitting in the front of a car. 

Mark Byrne, John Findlay and Jeffrey O’Neil were walking the streets of Whalan, 30km from where Kathy disappeared, when they heard crying in a paddock 

The search and rescue mission was dragging into the third day when three teenagers wagging school stumbled across Kathy 

The search and rescue mission was dragging into the third day when three teenagers wagging school stumbled across Kathy.

Mark Byrne, John Findlay, and Jeffrey O’Neil were walking the streets of Whalan, 30km from where Kathy disappeared, when they heard crying in a paddock.

The trio spotted a girl with short hair and immediately recognised it was Kathy after seeing her photograph on TV.

The three teenagers were afraid they would get in trouble for wagging school so asked a tradie to keep an eye on her, but were encouraged to wait for police instead.

The trio received a hero’s reception from the community and were gifted watches by Kathy’s dad.

Kathy lost touch with the schoolboys over the following years and was only reunited with one of them after a BBC journalist reporting on her case reached out in 2021.

In an emotional interview, Kathy told the BBC she always wanted to reunite with her rescuers and thank them.

‘I would wrap my arms around them,’ she said.

Kathy and her family had only arrived in Australia three weeks earlier after migrating from the United Kingdom

In yet another happy twist, she was able to do just that.

‘I want to introduce you to somebody,’ journalist Jon Kay said.

Kathy gasped as a smiley Mr Byrne appeared on the screen and said hello.

‘Long time no see,’ Mark said.

After the video finished Mark showed Kathy the watch her parents bought him to say thank you for finding her back in 1968.

On the back the watch is engraved with: ‘Thank you from Kathy to Mark.’

Kathy’s case remains unsolved with police unable to identify her kidnapper. 

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