Abigail Hernandez, Missing for 9 Months, Says She's 'Better Every Day'

Missing Teen Abigail Hernandez Speaks Out After Being Found
Abigail Hernandez (center) with mom Zenya and family friend Amanda Smith, who spearheaded the "Bring Abby Home" effort
Conway Daily Sun/Jamie Gemmiti

08/01/2014 AT 11:00 AM EDT

In her first public words since returning home July 20 after a mysterious nine-month disappearance, Abigail "Abby" Hernandez says, "I'm taking it a little bit at a time, but I'm feeling a lot better every day."

Making a short visit Thursday to the offices of her hometown newspaper, the 15-year-old from North Conway, New Hampshire, thanked the editorial staff of the Conway Daily Sun for running a daily Page 2 box that kept count of the days since, according to authorities, she was abducted.

"Thank you guys, so, so much. I really appreciate it more than I could possibly put into words," Hernandez said, according to the paper, which added that she "appeared relaxed and composed as any teenage girl" despite her ordeal.

Her brief comments came days after Nathaniel Kibby, 34, of Gorham, New Hampshire, was charged and held on $1 million bond in Hernandez's Oct. 9, 2013, kidnapping as she walked home from Kennett High School. Details of the case and Hernandez's whereabouts during her disappearance have yet to be revealed, but investigators have focused on a storage container outside Kibby's mobile home.

During the months that searchers were looking for her, Hernandez periodically saw the newspaper and its tally of days since she went missing, alerting her that she'd not been forgotten, her mother, Zenya Hernandez, told the paper.

"As sad as it was to see the days growing and increasing, we truly thank you," Zenya Hernandez told the newspaper staff. "Abby saw that off and on. She didn't see it every day. It gave her hope that people were looking. It was one of the first things she said to me when she returned home, is, 'Thank you to the Conway Daily Sun.' "

Now that she's back home, Abby says she wants to be treated "like a normal person" – and also go horseback riding.

"I really miss that," she said.

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