Bonnie Lohman was seven years old when she found herself staring at a milk carton in her local grocery store.
The little girl, whose black and white photo was plastered across the front, was awfully familiar.
With her blonde hair and blue eyes, it didn’t take Bonnie long to realise she recognised the girl on the carton, because it was her.
She showed her father, unsure of what the words said above it. Bonnie, who had grown up in Saipan and Hawaii, before her family settled in Colorado, had never been to school and therefore did not know how to read.
In an act of profound hubris, her father actually bought her the milk carton.
They went home, drank the milk, and then he cut out the little photo of Bonnie, and gave it to her to keep under one condition: She wasn’t ever allowed to show anyone.
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Bonnie was good at keeping secrets, so promised she never would.
What her father knew that she didn’t, was that the two words above Bonnie’s face read: ‘Missing Person‘.
And what Bonnie would later find out, is that the man who bought her the milk carton, was not actually her father.
Bonnie had been abducted by her mother and stepfather when she was three years old. They’d lived in shacks, and she was hardly ever allowed outdoors. It was rare for her to even visit the grocery store, like she did with her stepfather when she happened to notice the milk carton.
Her father, however, had never stopped looking for her, which is why he added Bonnie’s picture to the missing children featured on milk cartons in the mid 1980s.
Of the 200 children who had their image printed on the household staple, only two were ever found alive.
And Bonnie would become one of them.
She began carrying the cut out with her everywhere, including to a neighbour’s home one afternoon. Completely by accident, Bonnie left the picture inside a box of toys at the house next door.
As soon as they discovered the photo, with the words ‘Missing Person’ written above it, they called the police.
She was immediately reunited with her father.
“I wasn’t kidnapped by strangers,” Bonnie later said. “I was kidnapped by people that loved me.”
And if it weren’t for that day in the grocery shop – she might never have known.