Friday, May 15, 2015

A Story of God’s Grace: Peggy Ann Bradnick

Peggy Ann Bradnick Jackson
photo by Sandy Sieber
For anyone, the thought of being kidnapped is terrifying. For one 17-year-old girl back in 1966, this actually happened. In fact, this particular kidnapping of an ordinary girl named Peggy Ann Bradnick became a historic event because finding her involved read more
the largest manhunt to take place in Pennsylvania up to that time.

On May 11, 1966, Peggy Ann had just ridden the bus home with her brothers and sisters. They got off and began the long walk down their lane to their home in Shade Gap. A man grabbed Peggy Ann, and pointed a gun at her five siblings. The children all ran. Fortunately, he did not fire.

The man chained her to himself and forced her to constantly walk for eight days.  In fact, experts estimate that during the time that she was his captive, she walked 300 to 400 miles with him. He kept her away from people, but occasionally, she could see people driving down the road and knew what time it was from that. Everyone in her small community had a familiarity with neighborhood arrivals and departures.

Even though Peggy Ann did not think she knew the man, he insisted that she did and kept beating her when she could not answer the question, “Who am I?” In fact, he struck her many times, threatened her constantly with his gun, and verbally battered her. He never sexually abused her. She had nothing to eat except three peas that he had forced on her. The stranger pushed her head into streams to drink. Two different times, she watched horrified as the maniac shot men. One of them, FBI agent Terry Anderson, died. 

At some point he finally told her who he was, Bicycle Pete, a man she had seen many times riding his bicycle down the road. His real name was William Diller Hollenbaugh. She had never viewed his face because he always rode with his head down, never looking right or left.

The police finally found Peggy Ann, then shot and killed Hollenbaugh from a helicopter in one of the few times she wasn’t fastened to him. Peggy Ann finally was free! Even though she had become severely malnourished and dehydrated, she recovered with no long term physical effects after a hospital stay. Peggy Ann went back to school under police protection for a while because the police felt that he must have been working with someone else.

Now a 66 year old woman, Peggy Ann relays that although she was terribly terrified the whole eight days she was a prisoner, she now feels sorry for him. She and experts she has talked to said that Hollenbaugh was very, very mentally unstable person with schizophrenia. He manifested extreme anger, an argumentative spirit, and a lack of self-control. She saw him exhibit 23 different personalities as his face and voice changed.

Peggy Ann Bradnick married to Albert Jackson from Wisconsin, says that she would go through it again for the change that came to her family afterwards. Her father, an alcoholic and abusive husband, turned to God because he felt that God had let this happen as a punishment to him for the kind of man he had been. Afterwards, the family experienced 17 of the happiest years of their lives because of her father’s conversion.


Divirgilius, Kathryn. “Kidnap Victim Recounts Story.” The Sentinel, Lewistown, PA, Vol. 112, No. 171, .April 30, 2015.

Jackson, Peggy Ann Bradnick. Presentation at the Juniata County Historical Society’s Spring Dinner Program. Port Royal Community Building. Port Royal, Pennsylvania. April 29, 2015.

Smith, Carol. “Kidnap Victim Tells Story of Struggle and Strength.” Juniata Sentinel, Mifflintown, PA, Vol. 169, No. 15, May 6, 2015.

Yorks, Sheila McCarthy. “1966 Captivity Remembered.” Juniata County Historical Society, “Juniata Jottings,” No. 1, March 2015.


  1. That is an awesome story. The girls and I went to hear Elizabeth Smart talk a few years ago. She was/is? Mormon and was abducted from her bedroom.

    1. Her testimony reminded me of Romans 8:28.

  2. That is an awesome story. The girls and I went to hear Elizabeth Smart talk a few years ago. She was/is? Mormon and was abducted from her bedroom.