"I said, 'Don, tell God, you know, help me,'" said Natalie "Sandy" Herbst-Vinge, a 75-year-old grandmother of two. "And he did. That night he helped me. The sheriffs came and they rescued me, because I wouldn't have lasted long."
Herbst-Vinge, her face swollen and bruised but her white hair neatly coiffed, appeared on NBC's "Today" show Tuesday to talk about her abduction on Dec. 8 from her La Mesa home by a door-to-door salesman. La Mesa is 7 miles southeast of San Diego.
Investigators said Jeffrey Edward Nelson, 19, of Lakeside, bound her and searched her home for money and credit cards, then drove away with two accomplices and the woman in Herbst-Vinge's station wagon.
"They stole me in my own car. That was awful," she said. She also said her captors held her without food or water while driving around for the next 26 hours. When she screamed and asked for water, she was punched in the face.
A sheriff's deputy pulled the car over for speeding in El Cajon.
Nelson, Luis Lomeli Osborne and Antoinette Marie Baker, both 18 and from El Cajon, have pleaded not guilty to crimes including kidnapping, robbery and torture. They were being held on $2 million bail each.
Herbst-Vinge, who spent several days in the hospital, said she was feeling better. "I have bruises on my body because they kicked me and hit me and everything," she said. "There's nothing that I can do about what happened but I have to be positive. ... Life goes on, as they say."