Missing South African Girl Found 17 Years After Her Abduction When She Enrolled In The Same School as Her Biological Sister.

Zephany and Celeste Nurse
(Zephany and Celeste Nurse via The Guardian.)

On April 28, 1997 3-day-old Zephany Nurse was snatched from her mother Celeste Nurse. Celeste, who was recovering from a C-Section, has only a hazy memory of a mysterious woman, whom she assumed at the time to be a nurse, taking the newborn from her arms. Only when a real nurse turned up hours later, looking for Zephany, did Celeste realize what had actually happened. For the next 17 years the Nurse family would hold out hope of one day seeing Zephany again.

South African and International press followed the story of the missing girl for years, with some news outlets calling Zephany “South Africa’s Madeleine McCann.” In a 2010 interview with South Africa’s Cape Argus newspaper, Morné is quoted as saying, “I’ll never, ever give up hope. I can feel it in my gut – my daughter is out there and she is going to come home.”
Celeste and her husband Morné went on to have three more children — Cassidy, Joshua and Micah. Every year the family would celebrate Zephany’s birthday, with a cake and candles. Little did they know, that Zephany was growing up just a few miles away from their home, under a different name.

When Zephany, under the new name she was given by her abductor, started to attend the same school as 15-year-old Cassidy Nurse, the two girls quickly became close friends. Many of the students noted the strong resemblance between Cassidy and Zephany. Morné Nurse also became suspicious after Zephany visited the Nurse home. He eventually decided to take the matter up with the police, who conducted a quiet investigation so as not to scare Zephany’s alleged abductors or upset the girls.

When tests confirmed that Cassidy’s new friend was, in fact, her missing sister, her abductors, who are described as a 50-year-old woman and her husband with no other children, were arrested and remain in police custody. Investigators informed Zephany of the situation, and the she is currently under the care of South Africa’s Child Protection Unit. She is also being treated by counselors.