In a new docuseries, filmmaker Charlie Ebersol explores the stories of girls who were kidnapped by strangers – and survived

By Steve Helling
Updated October 05, 2015 06:40 PM
Credit: Courtesy Charlie Ebersol

If a kidnapped child is not found within the first 24 hours after disappearing, the child is 50 percent less likely to be recovered alive.

It’s a shocking statistic – and one that stuck with Executive Producer Charlie Ebersol when he created his new true crime docuseries, They Took Our Child: We Got Her Back, set to premiere Wednesday, October 7 at 10 p.m. ET on LMN.

The 7-episode docuseries tells the stories of abducted children who escaped the clutches of their kidnappers, and of the families who never gave up hope of getting them home safely.

Unlike most other crime shows, these harrowing stories have happy endings. “These are done with the victims, who are telling their stories of how they escaped,” Ebersol tells PEOPLE. “Ideally, these stories should inspire people who, God forbid, face it themselves.”

While investigating the cases, Ebersol found that children who escaped their captors often had certain things in common.

“The vast majority of kids who get saved after those first 24 hours were all saved largely because a parent had never lost hope, never lost faith,” says Ebersol. “Even if others gave up, the parents didn’t. And that saved their children’s lives.”

Many times, the family’s ordeal could have been over much sooner, but something would go wrong. “It’s amazing how close these girls came to being saved in the first few hours of their kidnapping. In some cases, in the first couple hours, there were five different places where that whole thing could have been ended and they could have been rescued and the girls wouldn’t have gotten to the much darker things that happened to them.”

One more similarity between the cases stood out to Ebersol: The girls were all active participants in their own rescues. “These are 9-, 10-, 11-year-old girls who are negotiating with their captor and tricking their captor into all sorts of things that kept them alive.”

“These young girls, in many cases, were 90% of the reason why they got rescued,” he continues. “As much as we appreciate the FBI and the police and the parents, these girls saved themselves. They were incredibly smart and resourceful.”

So what’s the takeaway from the series? “It’s very powerful to watch,” says Ebersol. “It’s not necessarily for the weak-kneed, but I think it can help inspire people to know how to save themselves.”

Check out an exclusive preview of They Took Our Child: We Got Her Back below!

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