Unaware of the thoughts and actions of the kidnapper, we at the house had no idea that Ben's release was imminent. I sat on the couch, where I had been continually since returning home the previous day; I was still wearing the clothing I'd worn when I was kidnapped. Allen and Russell were still working on trying to find help for Ben, and waiting on calls from the kidnapper. Gus, our son who was nineteen at the time, quietly took on handling all of the needs of the household which Allen and I were neglecting. Our daughters Kirstin and Boo were traveling back from San Pedro Sula.
The phone rang, and I heard Allen say, excitedly, "He's walking out?!?"
Then he grabbed the keys to the Land Cruiser and ran out the door, collecting Gus on the way. I knew they were off to hopefully pick up Ben, but I didn't know where they were headed, or how long they would be gone.
I suddenly realized that I was alone, and for the first time I experienced the fear that I would have to fight for many months after the kidnapping. I was excited and worried about the situation with Ben, but I was also quite alarmed to realize that I was only a short distance from where I'd been kidnapped just the day before, with no one around to protect me, should I need that!
I heard from Russell, by Facebook message, that Ben had been released, and was safe, and that I could go ahead and tell everyone the good news - which of course I did! Russell had left his home as soon as the kidnapper had told him that he was letting Ben go free, and he met up with Allen, Gus and Ben, bringing some policemen with him.
At that point, the obvious thing would have been for the police to immediately search the area around where Ben had been released. Had they done so, it is likely that they would have found and arrested the kidnapper. Strangely, the police intentionally chose not to do that. They said that Ben had to give his statement first, and that would take some time, so that process certainly wouldn't be finished before dark. The police decided to wait until morning to search for the kidnapper. You can feel free to make of this what you will.
Russell took Ben into Gracias, to the police station, to act as his translator while Ben gave his statement. A doctor was brought in to examine him there, though we'd been told he'd be taken to the hospital. Someone also went and got him some baleadas to eat, as he was hungry!
Allen and Gus came back to the house, so that I could drive into town to be with Ben. When they arrived, Allen gently suggested that I might want to change clothes, and maybe shower, before heading to town. At this point, I behaved strangely. I got up, as if to change, but then I wandered aimlessly around the house for about 20 - 30 minutes. Meanwhile, Gus got out the hair clippers, and asked Allen to shave his head. Without saying anything to anyone, he had made a vow to God to shave his head if Ben came home to us alive.
Eventually, I shook off my torpor and suddenly said, "Oh, I'm just going to go the way I am!" I headed out to the Land Cruiser, along with the now-bald Gus, and drove to town. It was on this trip that I had the opportunity to give the good news of Ben's release to the police manning a checkpoint on the road to Gracias (that story was related in the post "Ben is Free").
When I arrived at the location where the kidnapping police were taking Ben's statement, I found two of my daughters in the waiting area! Boo and Kirstin had gotten back to Gracias just in time to hear the news of Ben's release - so they changed direction and headed to the police station, instead of home. I was delighted to be reunited with five of my six children. (Rachel was still off on her honeymoon, very much relieved at the good news she'd received from us!) I greeted the children in the waiting area, then headed back into the office where Ben and Russell were answering questions. Things can often be pretty low tech around here, and the policeman was taking down the information Ben gave (and Russell translated) by hand. It did, indeed take a long time to get this done!
This is where I had my reunion with Ben. It was awkward, in a small room full of policemen. I hugged Ben, and made a joke to keep from crying. The other children had told me that Ben smelled really bad, and I knew Ben would be amused if I commented on that, because he knows I have no sense of smell. Then I sat with him for a while, while the police continued their questioning. Eventually I headed back out to the waiting area and visited with the rest of the children.
We decided that a celebratory dinner was in order, so we planned some special food purchases - shish-ka-bob from the vendor on the street by the market, and fried rice from the Chinese restaurant. Yes, indeed, our family knows how to party! LOL
When the police were finished with Ben, Russell headed home to pick up Iris while the rest of us purchased food, then we all returned to our home up on the mountain.
Over dinner, we had a sort of debriefing; family members shared their experiences over the past two days, since we had been scattered in several different locations. Ben did not share much. He had showered before eating, and he began nodding off at the table, so soon he went to bed.
The next morning, early, Kirstin and Gus took Ben out to meet the police at the spot where the kidnapper had released me, two days before. Ben was unable to retrace their path over the mountains and through the woods, so eventually they tried again, starting at the point where Ben was released. Again, though, he hadn't seen enough to lead the police to the house where he'd been kept overnight.
After that day, we never heard any additional news from the police, about the kidnapping. The kidnapper was never identified or caught. Oddly, there have been a few times when Ben and I believe we've seen him on the streets of Gracias, since the kidnapping. We never found out whether or not there was a boss involved, or if the kidnapper was working alone.
As far as the justice system goes, it almost seems like it never happened at all! I think, because no one was physically hurt, and we didn't end up paying a ransom, there was a sort of "no harm, no foul" feeling, among the police involved. They quickly moved on to other matters.
Of course, it doesn't seem like it never happened, to us! The memories of this event, both good and bad, will always be a part of our family, and the story will remain a testimony, to us and to those who cried and prayed with us, of the time God chose to reach down and respond to the pleas of His people in such an immediate, personal way.