TODAY   |  October 08, 2012

Victim of brutal rape pregnant with ‘miracle baby’

After being abducted, raped, and left to die at 8 years old, Jennifer Schuett was told she would likely never be able to have children. But thanks to a gift of IVF treatments, she and her fiancé are expecting their first child next month. NBC’s Jeff Rossen reports.

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>>> let begin this half hour with new details on a story that gripped viewers in 2010 . a woman who helped catch her attackers decades after she was abducted and sexually assaulted . today national investigative correspondent jeff rossen here with an update on that story. jeff, good morning.

>> reporter: what a story for a monday. met a lot of people, done a lot of stories, but no question this is the most inspirational person i have ever met. it is a miracle she's even alive. jennifer never gave up, never let her rapist win, but he did take one thing from her, her dream of having kids. because of the rape, doctors said it's nearly impossible for jennifer to have kids. well, guess what? jennifer never thought she would be here, eight months pregnant, just a little heartbeat away from being a mom.

>> i'm 44.

>> last time we talked you sat in that very seat you told me i wanted a big family and i don't think i could have it and here you are.

>> two years later expecting a baby. i can't believe it.

>> reporter: after all, the path to this joyous moment was riddled with pain. as a little girl in 1990 they didn't come any cuter than jennifer . like so many 8-year-olds her biggest fear was sleeping in the dark.

>> i remember saying just because i love you, mom, i'm going to go sleep in my own bed tonight.

>> reporter: then the unthinkable.

>> i woke up to a man running with me down the sidewalk of our apartment. he had come in through the window and kidnapped me. of course, i tried to scream. he immediately covered my nose and mouth, put me in his vehicle, and we drove off. i remember him holding a knife to my throat in the front seat of the car and asking me if i was scared. the next thing i remember after that is him dragging me through this field by my ankles, raped me and then he slit my throat from ear to ear and left me in the field to die.

>> did you think you were going to die in that field?

>> i knew i was going to die.

>> reporter: neighborhood kids playing hide and go seek found her the next day, barely alive. jennifer was rushed to the emergency room .

>> i was writing notes in the hospital because i could not physically speak, and they said i would never be able to talk again.

>> reporter: just days later a miracle. jennifer got her voice back.

>> these days it's hard to get me to be quiet.

>> reporter: in fact, she spent the next 19 years speaking up, working with police to crack her own case, and she did. investigators caught him sexually abusing another woman, matched his dna to jennifer 's crime scene nearly 20 years earlier. suddenly her rapist had a name. dennis earl bradford , a married welder, a father himself.

>> what was it like getting the call, he's captured, we found him?

>> it was the most amazing moment of my life.

>> not a single day goes by where i don't see that baby.

>> reporter: and soon police had a confession. after decades of silence, bradford opened up.

>> i took that little girl out there, and i raped her and i cut her throat.

>> reporter: bradford later hanged himself in his jail cell.

>> as a result of him raping me i have -- as an 8-year-old child i cannot have children normally.

>> reporter: something was stolen from you.

>> i'm an only child. i've always wanted a big family, and to know that i have to now rely on medical advances and doing in vitro, and there's a chance that might not even work.

>> reporter: but jennifer 's persistence paid off, again.

>> love you.

>> love you.

>> reporter: starting ivf treatments with the help of this man she calls an angel. dr. craig whitz.

>> this really is a story of survival.

>> reporter: this really touched you? he offered jennifer expensive in vitro services for free.

>> it was without any thought, you know, for god sake, what can we do to help this person to try to make things right.

>> reporter: and boy did he ever. the girl who never gave up is about to have a little girl of her own. this is a miracle baby .

>> she is, yeah.

>> reporter: have you thought about what you're going to tell your daughter one day about what happened to you?

>> i always sought justice for myself and for others, so i hope that from my whole experience she can see, that you know, i kept going and hope that she learns from that and always stands up for herself and what she believes in.

>> reporter: be strong like mom?

>> right.

>> reporter: jennifer and her fiance jonathan are expecting next month, sweet justice.

>> i feel like this is my happy ending .

>> reporter: and jennifer isn't done yet. she wants more kids, and the chance to have a big family, and she may get that chance. doctors froze eight of her fertilized embryos after her ivf treatment so this is just the beginning of that happy ending . we wish her so much luck.

>> what an incredible story.

>> amazing woman.

>> an amazing woman.

>> you get sadness and anger and in the end you get strength from her.