CONCORD, N.H. — The man charged with kidnapping a teenager nine months ago is very bright, has strong opinions and thrives on conflict, according to a police officer who had two decades of contact with him.
Former Conway Lt. Chris Perley, who left the force in April after 29 years, has known 34-year-old Nathaniel Kibby since the kidnapping suspect was 12 years old.
Kibby was arrested at his Gorham trailer Monday and charged with kidnapping Abigail Hernandez on Oct. 9, a week before her 15th birthday. Abby returned home July 20, but investigators have been tight-lipped about the details surrounding her disappearance and return.
Perley said his most recent dealing with Kibby was over a summons for running a red light.
“He thought he should be entitled to (run the light) because he went to work at such early hours,” Perley said.
“He was smart, but he was also brutally myopic in whatever view he had,” Perley said. “You could not shake him or redirect him in the way he saw the world.”
Kibby has a lengthy criminal record, including several assaults. Particularly disturbing, Perley said, was an arrest in March when Kibby was charged with criminal trespass and assault after following a Conway woman to her home after a minor car accident. Police said he pushed her to the ground in her driveway after she ordered him to stop taking pictures of her car.
“I remember thinking that was so over the top,” Perley said. “You don’t go to their home and get into a chest-bumping situation, especially with a woman.”
Kibby grew up in and attended school in Conway, a tourist-dependent town of about 1,800 people in the southeast corner of the White Mountain National Forest. Although he’d lived in Gorham for a while, he returned to Conway to work as a machinist at two gun makers – Green Mountain Rifle Barrel Co. and E.M.M. Precision. Various news outlets have reported he was laid off this year for economic reasons.
Kibby was arraigned Tuesday and is being held on $1 million cash bond. He’s due in court Aug. 12. His public defender, Jesse Friedman, did not return a call seeking comment.
Prosecutors have revealed little of what they have learned since Kibby’s arrest, saying only that investigators continue to search his home and the surrounding grounds. It remains unclear where Abby was held for more than nine months. She attended Tuesday’s brief hearing, wide-eyed but otherwise expressionless, and made no comments.
On Thursday, Abby stopped by the offices of the Conway Daily Sun, the newspaper that ran a daily box counting the number of days she had been missing and urging people to call police with any information. Abby’s mother, Zenya, told the paper her daughter occasionally saw the box while she was in captivity, and it gave her hope.
Daily Sun reporter Daymond Steer said Abby and her mother seemed relaxed during the visit.
“They seemed like they were on the mend,” Steer said. “They’ve been through a lot obviously, but she’s getting better.”
Court documents show Kibby has convictions on four trespassing counts, simple assault, providing false information to obtain a firearm and two counts each of receiving stolen property and resisting arrest. He faces up to seven years in prison if convicted of kidnapping. But Perley said nothing foreshadowed the kidnapping allegations.
“You’re always hoping it’s some stranger and that evil doesn’t live in your midst,” Perley said. “Certainly nothing he’d ever done would lead you to believe this is what he would do. If it is true, the depravity of the man knows no limits.”