The key to his escape was a safety pin that was holding together a rip in Clay’s jacket, Kelle said.
While his abductor was driving Clay away from the bus stop, the boy took the safety pin off his sleeve and nervously played with it, Kelle said.
When Clay was taken from the truck into the woods, he put the safety pin in his mouth, his stepfather said. Asked later by his parents why he did that, he said he “just thought it would be helpful,” Kelle said.
The abductor tied Clay up with duct tape and gagged him with a sock, Kelle said.
When the boy was sure the man had left, he spit the sock — and the safety pin — onto the ground. With his hands still bound in front of him, Clay used a stick and his mouth to get the pin back.
“He used the safety pin to free himself by picking at [the duct tape] and more or less untying what was binding him,” Kelle said. “And then he used that and his mouth once he was free to pull the duct tape off.”
Clay estimated the process took as long as an hour, his stepfather said.
The boy then walked until he found a farm worker with a cell phone.