** This Woman Digitally Kidnapped Twin Girls From A Family She Had Never Met Before

 

This Woman Digitally Kidnapped Twin Girls From A Family She Had Never Met Before

When April and her husband Nathan found out that she was pregnant with twins, they couldn’t have been happier. But one day that all changed and instead of her living ‘happily ever after’ April discovered that her dreams had been destroyed when someone digitally kidnapped her children’s photos and identities.

Meet the happy couple

After giving birth to her twins, April realized that she could turn to parenting groups online for information and support. April thought it would be better to start a fake online account so that she could join online groups for mothers with twins or triplets and still retain her anonymity. This way she could share intimate details about herself after the birth without it being linked to her directly.

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Stolen

After about a year posting in the groups, April received a terrifying private message from a friend. April’s friend explained that she had seen a woman posting a story similar to Aprils, with the same children’s pictures but she was calling herself their mother.

Not only was she claiming to be the twin’s real mother, she had also renamed the twins. April’s friend then wrote, “I am almost positive that someone has stolen all of your twins’ photos”. Was this a case of digital kidnapping? April felt a surge of emotions, she just didn’t know what to think.

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What is digital kidnapping

It turned out that there was a good reason for April to be scared. You see, digital kidnapping isn’t just when someone steals your profile picture and then passes it off as their own. When someone digitally kidnaps images, they steal a child’s pictures and claim them as their own. They stalk your child online and steal as many pictures as they can find.

What is digital kidnapping

They then also build incredible backstories relating to those images. These digital kidnappers then rely on the feedback they receive online to fulfill their emotional needs, but when that feedback is no longer enough, a digital kidnapper will concoct elaborate stories, like illness or separation, to get even more sympathy.

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Snapping into action

Once April found out that her daughters had been digitally kidnapped, she quickly snapped into action. She would do anything to protect her new family and keep her girls safe.

April’s husband Nathan was terrified that the person would take it a step further and try and harm his wife or steal their beautiful daughters. Through their children’s images, a kidnapper could discover where the children lived as well as their age and their full names. Not knowing what to do, the couple hired a private detective who was able to shed light on the person who had stolen the pictures.

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Shutting it down

The private detective discovered that the photos were being stolen by a woman named Ashley who had been arrested in the past for burglary, assault and computer fraud and had actually spent time in jail.

Shutting it down

With the detective’s help, April and Nathan were able to find all of the online accounts where the pictures were being used and the managed to get them shut down. However, unfortunately digital kidnapping isn’t illegal and there was not much else they could do. For now, the posting had stopped, and it looked like it was over. After a long period of peace and quiet, one day April received a link to a blog where images of her children were once again being posted by Ashley.

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It starts happening again

When April and Nathan saw the blog, they were shocked, “I saw that all of my twins’ photos like all of their delivery room photos, the photos after they were born, everything was on this blog site,” April said. Ashley had done it again.

It starts happening again

The blog also revealed that Ashley was now writing long, detailed posts about her and the children and all of the things they did together. It had begun to sound like Ashley really believed the twins were her daughters.

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Emotional Exploitation

The twins were once photographed during a doctor’s visit and Ashley had even stolen this picture as well as adding a caption describing how the girls were having seizures! Sadly, Ashley was now posting about the girls’ health and everyone who saw the posts reached out and offered help, money and support.

The situation had escalated, and Ashley wasn’t just stealing April’s pictures, she was using them to exploit others emotionally and financially.

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Photos get Photoshopped

Ashley was now photoshopping April’s pictures. Where the girls’ names were visible, Ashley would airbrush them out. She was now calling the twins by different names and with each post, she had a long story about what her and the girls were doing when the pictures were taken.

This was just too much for April to bear and once again, she set to work with the detective to have the blog taken down.

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Pressure on the family

The stress of this whole ordeal began to eat away at the once happy family. April and Nathan had understandably grown paranoid and resentful. April and her husband found relief in the fact that the blog and accounts had all been removed and it looked like it was now all behind them.

Sadly, for April and her family that is not where the story ended, and for the next four years, Ashley continued to steal pictures and post them on various accounts and blogs.

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Threats become too real

Eventually, they couldn’t stand it any longer. The twins were getting bigger and spending more time at school or out of the house. After many restless nights, April confessed to her husband that she was worried that Ashley had grown so fixated that the children might be in real danger.

Threats become too real

Her husband had been thinking the exact same thing after he saw one of Ashley’s comments that claimed she would see the children soon.

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Taking drastic measures

Since this started the family had to take some drastic measures, “It had changed our way of life for sure. Because you just can’t be too careful when it is with your children. It was crazy” said April. They did everything they could, they had hired a private detective, policed their family’s posts, watermarked their pictures, made the pictures private and they were always hypervigilant when the girls were out of the home.

Taking drastic measures

Even though they had installed security cameras in their house as an extra precaution, when Ashley began posting about how she would be seeing the girls soon, Nathan decided that he would take the drastic step and get a gun which he kept locked and loaded.

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Their last hope

Ashley didn’t give up and continued to play out her fantasy online. In their desperation, April and Nathan turned to the police but at this point, surprisingly, there was nothing they could do. Out of desperation Nathan posted on Ashley’s online account and told her to stop for good.

Their last hope

When they never heard a response, they thought that was the end of it all, they hoped that she grew scared and gave up on her weird exploit. But Ashley wasn’t about to give up any time soon.

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Paging Dr Phil

On a whim, a friend suggested that the story was so crazy that it could be on the Dr Phil Show. Agreeing that the show would be a safe environment to confront Ashley, April wrote into the show and asked for help.

Paging Dr Phil

She explained, saying “We have been victims of a four-year-long stalking escapade by a stranger over our twin daughters.” Immediately Dr. Phil contacted April and offered to help.

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Dr Phil to the rescue

Dr. Phil was able to locate their cyberstalker Ashley and when he reached out to her to be part of the show, she agreed! The stage was now set for April and Nathan to confront the person who had been stalking their family. Dr. Phil hoped that the meeting would allow the parties to meet and discuss the situation so that it could be resolved.

Dr Phil to the rescue

After all, while Dr. Phil wanted to protect the twins, he also wanted to help Ashley but when the cameras started rolling and the couple met Ashley, her responses were more than unsettling.

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Meet Ashley

During the show, Dr. Phil talked to Ashley alone first and he made it clear he was willing to listen. Ashley claimed that she had heard the allegations that she had stolen the pictures but that it wasn’t true. When Dr. Phil asked Ashley if she had any children, things really began to get strange. When Ashley replied she told Dr. Phil all about her twin daughters whom she loved immensely but sadly she had lost custody of.

Meet Ashley

According to Ashley, she had given birth in June 2012 and had to sign away custody of the girls four months later when she went to prison. While Ashley initially says she doesn’t know who has custody of the girls, she later said that they were with her mother-in-law. At this point, the television host was wondering if Ashley had claimed April’s girls were hers because she had lost her own daughters.

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Pictures don’t lie

Just when he started to feel sorry for Ashley, Dr. Phil decided it was time for Ashley to embrace the truth of what she was doing. Dr. Phil brought April and Nathan on stage and they sat down quietly as Ashley looked on in horror. Dr. Phil took out his iPad and began scrolling through Ashley’s online posts.

He then turned to Ashley, showed the audience and Ashley his iPad screen and asked Ashley “Then who are these girls”? There on the screen for everyone to see were the happy little faces of Nathan and April’s twin girls.

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Those are my babies not yours!

When Dr. Phil asked about the picture April screamed, “those are my girls, those are my babies, not yours”! Just to make his point clear, Dr. Phil then showed several other pictures he found on the social media page and asked the same question once again, as April and Nathan sat opposite Ashley repeating the words, “those are our babies”.

Those are my babies not yours!

All the while Ashley insisted that she didn’t know how the pictures got there and that it wasn’t her account. If this wasn’t enough of a shock, Dr Phil told Ashley that his team had previously seen that there were more pictures on the account and therefore she must have deleted some before she went onto the stage.

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Don’t the girls look like me?

Ashley had posted a collage of herself and the girls with a caption saying, “don’t my girls look just like me?” Even after Dr Phil showed this to the audience Ashley kept denying that the account was hers, however, she did confirm that it was a picture of her at three years of age. In a robotic, almost deadpan tone, Ashley insisted she did not digitally kidnap the twins and that she didn’t know April and Nathan or understand why she was there. April turned to Ashley and said “you have been taking my babies’ pictures and saying my girls are yours! You’ve freaked us out. You really have. You need help.”

Don’t the girls look like me?

But even with the confrontation, Ashley sat still with an emotionless expression, doing nothing but blinking as they confronted her.

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Pictures on the wall

Seeing that she still refused to face what she had done, Dr. Phil then showed Ashley more proof that she had stolen the pictures. In an online advert, Ashley had placed pictures of furniture items that she had put up for sale. In those pictures, you could visibly see pictures of the twins next to pictures of Ashley.

Pictures on the wall

In the background, there were noticeable framed pictures of the girls on the walls of Ashley’s house as well as on the dresser and on the side table. Now, with this evidence everyone was waiting to see if Ashley would face what she had done and finally confess.

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Dr Phil pleads with Ashley

When Ashley still denied she had digitally kidnapped the twins and that she was claiming April’s children as her own, Dr. Phil begged Ashley to see reason. Ashley, he said “those [pictures] are in your house. Please, please I’m trying to help you here. You’ll never have a better offer. These people came to me and said they don’t want me to burn you down they want me to help you”.

Dr Phil pleads with Ashley

Dr. Phil was begging her to admit the truth so that she could move on and accept the help she needed.

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Ashley Finally responds

After all the evidence Ashley just couldn’t deny it. Eventually, she confessed that she had stolen the pictures. She explained she didn’t mean any harm and she apologized for making the family feel violated. Her delivery was emotionless and as Ashley spoke, it just didn’t sound quite right. It was very scary to watch.

Ashley Finally responds

Dr. Phil and April noticed this and neither were sure if Ashley meant it nor if she was now going to stop.

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Ashley’s real children

Early in the interview, Ashley had told Dr. Phil that she had twin girls who she lost custody of while she was in jail, but Dr. Phil knew this wasn’t true. He had spoken to Ashley’s family who said that she had never even been pregnant. The police had interviewed Ashley and they knew that she had no children.

There were no birth records found and when Dr. Phil confronted her with this information it was finally enough to break through to Ashley. She decided to tell the truth about everything.

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Ashley tells the truth

Ashley admitted she had never had children and that she had stolen every picture April had ever posted. She explained that she didn’t know why she reposted the pictures and claimed they were her children. She said that the girls looked like her when she was that age and when she claimed they were sick she got a rush from all the concern people showed her online. She knew what she was doing was wrong, but she couldn’t stop, even after Nathan told her she needed to.

Shocking everyone, she said she had been doing it since the twins were born and April’s children were not the first. After hearing this, everyone realized how troubled Ashley was.

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There is help for you

Dr. Phil offered to help Ashley build her support system and get the help she needed. Ashley admitted finally that she had a very serious problem. Thankfully, she promised to leave April and her family alone and said she would never post another picture of the twins again.

There is help for you

We don’t know if Ashley followed through with her promises or if she removed the pictures of Aprils daughters from her home, but we sincerely hope Ashley got the help she needs and didn’t do this to another family.

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