It was a week before Christmas in 2011 when Phoenix Coldon, 23, drove away from her house in St. Louis County, Missouri and never returned. Three hours after she left, her black Chevy was impounded by police 25 minutes from her house. The car was empty, and the motor was still running. The driver's side door was open.
Her parents firmly believe she's still alive. The Christmas tree remains lit as they wait to have her home again.
Phoenix's father Lawrence Coldon tells Anderson Cooper that law enforcement didn't tell him and his wife about finding their daughter's car that day. "We lost two weeks of investigative time trying to find our daughter, and we didn't know where the vehicle was."
During a special program dedicated to missing persons cases, three women who saved kidnapped children explain how everyone can be a hero by being observant and taking action.
Amber Deahn, a former waitress, noticed a little girl in her Idaho restaurant at 2:30 a.m. who was exhibiting strange behavior. The situation seemed off to Deahn and she thought the child was acting depressed. When she asked her manager to make the call for help, she was refused access to the office. Deahn persisted and threatened to walk out if she couldn't use the phone to call 911. Her instincts were spot on and her actions saved the child who was at the restaurant with her captor.
"Nobody needs credentials to do the right thing ... I'm not a police officer. I don't work with the FBI. I was a pregnant mother on the night shift trying to make ends meet. If I can do it, there's no reason nobody else can," she says.
Kidnapping survivor Katie Beers shares her story of strength 20 years after she was chained by her neck in an underground dungeon and assaulted for 17 days by a neighbor when she was nine years old.
She willingly went with her captor, John Esposito, because he was a family friend she trusted. Looking back, Beers remembers playing in his yard and seeing him build the dungeon years before she was taken.
John Walsh, host of "America's Most Wanted," calls Beers "one of the bravest, strongest women" he's ever met. He wants the three kidnapping victims who were found in Cleveland last week to know that they don't have to talk openly with the media about their story until they're ready, just as Beers did. She was kept out of the spotlight so she could heal.
By Ella Chick
AC360" Digital Producer
Family members of the women found in Cleveland on Monday, years after they disappeared, call the return of their loved ones a miracle. The wait was agonizing. 11, 10 and nine years went by, respectively, before the women were found alive. Their story gives hope to the tens of thousands of parents still searching for their son or daughter who vanished.
In a special program at 8 p.m. ET, Anderson Cooper will talk with parents, grandparents and siblings of missing persons. They haven't given up. These families are waiting and praying for the day their loved one is home again.
We'll also have incredible stories of survival. Locked and chained in an underground dungeon at age 9, Katie Beers suffered at the hands of a neighbor who kidnapped her for 17 days and repeatedly sexually assaulted her. 20 years later, she's telling her story of strength. Beers wants other victims to know that it's possible to overcome the trauma and heal.
Anderson Cooper goes beyond the headlines to tell stories from many points of view, so you can make up your own mind about the news. Tune in weeknights at 8 and 10 ET on CNN.
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