Written by Staff Writer
Haiti’s police chief in Port-au-Prince said on Wednesday that four suspects had been arrested in the abduction of 17 American missionaries from a Baptist church in Haiti, CNN affiliate VOX reported.
“The four individuals that were arrested have information regarding the video clip,” Frank Andres told VOX. “There’s also other information that has not been discovered to be accurate.”
Six of the abductees were taken on Monday, and 17 remain missing, according to the US Embassy in Haiti.
Coconut Grove pastor Estevan Joseph told CNN affiliate WSB that the kidnapped missionaries are employees of a Baptist church group in southeastern Haiti that had recently been returning from a trip to Guatemala. He said they were in Haiti as part of their efforts to build a mission house.
“We went to Guatemala for a year … they were there trying to build the mission house for the people who don’t have a home in Haiti,” he said.
“The moment we left the island to go to Cambodia on a long-term mission, that’s when we got the call from church leaders, and they went to Haiti for a while,” Joseph said.
CNN has attempted to contact the US State Department for comment but has not received a response.
Joseph told WSB that the kidnappers demanded US$1 million in ransom. He said he was unable to give details about who the kidnappers were or how they had the victims’ contact information.
According to news reports, the kidnapping took place in the Soua neighborhood of Gonaives, a city in Haiti’s south central region.
Relatives of some of the kidnapped missionaries told VOX that their loved ones had gone to South Korea for a vacation, and that some were staying in Gonaives at a hospital.
A family member of one of the kidnapped missionaries, Rhetta Smith, told VOX that Smith was traveling back from a mission trip to Guatemala when she was abducted.
“She hadn’t been back for more than a week when they called the family and said they had her, to expect a call,” the friend, Janet Smith of Brevard, Florida, said.
“To have someone you love kidnapped — this was very sudden,” Smith said. “And I’m not surprised that she is still missing, because it’s not like her to fail or to be lost.”