On July, 22nd, Amber Simonson was alone at her home in Fergus Falls, Minnesota with her four children. At around 2 p.m. that afternoon, a man named Anthony Randklev – a convicted sex offender – broke into her home, held her at gunpoint, and abducted her in front of her children.
For the next few hours, Simonson endured unthinkable horrors until she was rescued later that day. Unimaginable. There are no words. Something that no one—no mother or child—should ever have to experience or endure.
Immediately after she was abducted, Simonson’s children (all under 10) found her cell phone. They called their dad who immediately called police. A search was begun for Simonson, and an alert was put out for the suspect’s vehicle. A few hours later, the vehicle was found, a police chase ensued, Randklev was caught, and Simonson was rescued from his car.
As of now, Randklev is in custody, and although Simonson and her family will have trauma to recover from for quite some time, Simonson is home and everyone is working on healing.
Simonson reached out to Scary Mommy to tell her story. And what stood out more than anything (and what Simonson wants to focus on as she recovers) is how her small town came together to rescue her — and continues to aid in her recovery.
Not only were the local police incredible, and worked diligently to find Simonson and arrest the perpetrator, but as Simonson describes it, her entire town (population 13,000) mobilized together to find her.
Simonson tells the story of Jared Nordick, a local man who did not know her family, but who had gone out searching for her on his own.
“By chance he met up with my father while searching and stayed by his side throughout the entire day, helping to search and comforting him,” she said.
Nordick put up a video on Facebook detailing those moments with Simonson’s dad. He describes how he comforted Simonson’s father during those terrifying hours when Simonson was missing, and was there with him when word came that Simonson had been found safe. It’s an emotional and intense video.
“This was one of the most touching experiences I had had in my lifetime,” Nordick says. “The was the least I could do for an individual that I might never meet again, but that will never leave my heart.”
Nordick challenges us all to be there for each other when tragedies like this strike. “I’m just a person—an American—that chose to re-do my schedule to try to help an individual. And I would challenge all of you: if you ever see anything, it’s boots on the ground.”
But he was not the only hero that day, as Simonson explains. “People from all around our community went out in their cars to search for me that day,” she tells Scary Mommy. “If it would not have been for a local fireman and his wife who spotted the vehicle that I was taken in, things may have ended differently.”
And heroes from Simonson’s town continue to touch her life.
Her community set up a Go Fund Me (found here), and have raised almost $20,000 to help cover the family’s expenses, which include lost pay from missed work, medical and therapy bills, as well as home security upgrades. All the money will be used for the family’s recovery and rehabilitation, and any excess money will be donated to help others who are healing from sexual assault.
Simonson’s community truly has not left her side throughout this whole ordeal. “We have a large support group in our relatively small town,” she says. “They are people who band together to help those in need. Countless people have contacted our family to tell us they are praying for us and offering to help in any way they can.”
As for how Simonson and her family are doing now, there is certainly a long process ahead in terms of healing, but Simonson is finding comfort in the support of her family and friends, as well as her faith.
“I am working through things with prayer, Christian counseling, and the love and support of family and friends,” she says. “Even in my darkest moments when I had been kidnapped, I felt a peace and I knew it was God’s presence. Without my faith to ground me, I don’t know how I would get through this emotionally.”
She says that her children are doing as well as they can “considering what they endured that day,” but that the “fear and uncertainty” will likely take a long while to heal from, and will require counseling.
We are so glad that Simonson was rescued so quickly, and we wish Simonson and her family all the best as they continue to recover.
And may Simonson’s community be a model for all us all. We must help, protect, and look out for one other, always. And if tragedy strikes, we must do whatever it takes to offer aid and comfort to our friends, family—and even strangers.
Because everyone is our neighbor, everyone matters, and all of us must do our part to make the world a better, safer, more peaceful place.
If you would like to donate to Simonson’s family’s Go Fund Me, you can do so here.