Officials with Christian Aid Ministries in Ohio, where the missionaries were held, announced Monday that the 12-member group navigated by stars to safety following a two-month-long kidnapping ordeal.
The 15 missionaries held hostage in Haiti. Christian Aid Ministries
After Thursday’s announcement that the missionaries had been released, the detailed account of their journey to safety follows.
The missionary group, which included 12 adults and five minors, was abducted on October 16. They had visited an orphanage at Ganthier in the Croix-des-Bouquets region, where they checked that it had received aid and played with the children. The group consisted of 16 Americans and one Canadian.
The 400 Mawozo gang demanded ransom in the millions for their captors. Five other prisoners had been released earlier. It is not known if ransom was ever paid.
According to Weston Showalter, the 12 fleeing survivors carried the 3-year-old and infant, and wrapped the baby in blankets to keep her safe from brambles and briars.
He said that after a long walk, day started to dawn, and they finally found someone to help them make a call for help. His voice was beginning to choke. They were finally free.
They were taken to Florida by a U.S. Coast Guard plane and later reunited together with five hostages who had been released earlier.
At the news conferences, the missionary group showed photos of hostages freed and reunited with their families. They also displayed a video in which they sang a song that inspired them while in captivity.
Haiti US Hostages
The podium is surrounded by a group photo of the 17 hostages. Christian Aid Ministries Weston Showalter, who gives details about the hostages’ experiences in Haiti, speaks at a news conference in Berlin, Ohio on Monday, December 20, 2021. Tom E. Puskar / AP
Michele Montas is a Haitian journalist who was also a former U.N. spokesperson. He told CBS News’ Pamela Falk that the “kidnapping of these American missionaries” and their continued detention had brought attention to the dire security situation in Haiti.
Jean Dominique Montas, Montas’ husband was murdered in 2000, after they founded Radio Haiti, Haiti’s most important news media.
Montas stated that kidnappings were becoming a regular occurrence. Gangs are gaining access to Port-au- Prince through the southern part. “The Mawozo gang, which held the foreign missionaries captive northeastern of the capital, has been attacking passenger buses and taking their belongings with a police force that is unable to control it and a de facto government completely powerless to manage the security situation.”