Vilcabamba Home Invasion, Robbery, & Kidnapping (Ecuador)

Posted in: Everything Expat, Living in Ecuador

Ecuador kidnapping articleOn Tuesday, August 12 2014, an American expat couple experienced a home invasion, robbery and the wife was kidnapped and taken from Vilcabamba to Cuenca.

It has been covered in both of Cuenca’s local papers: El Tiempo (Police catch alleged kidnapping gang) and El Mercurio (Investigating the kidnapping of an American woman).

article on Ecuador crimeEarlier this afternoon, the victim emailed us her detailed account of what happened. This is her story.

The victim requested the following: 

“Could you please share the accurate details of the kidnapping. We would like to help other expats understand what happened and how wonderfully the police handled the situation. We would also like to protect our privacy and some sensitive information (ransom information and personal names…) which make us a target.”

As a result, we are not sharing names or details other than what we were provided below.


 

Accurate Details Regarding the Vilcabamba Kidnapping (August 2014)

Here is an accurate summary of the events regarding the Vilcabamba home invasion, robbery, and kidnapping of an American couple.

The couple requests that their privacy be respected and to please understand that each time they are asked to relay details it is traumatizing. Thus it is hoped everyone will allow them the time to heal from this life-threatening trauma.

12 August 2014 at approximately 10:30pm Robbers/Kidnappers entered their rental as they slept.

(They had a guest, an Ecuadorian named Adrian, who presented himself as a cardiologist. They knew him for 9 months and thought him a good friend.)

There were two Ecuadorian kidnappers.  One told her, in Spanish, to not scream as he dragged her to the guest room to view that Adrian was lying on the floor bound hand and foot. Her husband had his hands and feet duct-taped and put into a bedroom.  She fought back as the Ecuadorian men duct-taped her eyes and mouth.

The two men dragged her to the SUV and threw her into the back seat as she struggled they slammed her foot in the door breaking a bone.  Adrian told her to please cooperate as they had a gun pointed at him and he was to drive the vehicle.

They went to Cuenca, a four-hour drive, where the men bound her hands behind her back with zip-ties and locked her in a concrete storage room with a metal door.  Adrian told her that the kidnappers said if she made noise they would come in and rape her. She was locked in that cold, dark room for 8 hours.

She prayed, sang spiritual songs to herself, recited scripture, remembered bible stories of Victory … and with each one prayed that God would bring a miracle as she also tried to prepare herself to die.  She also prayed earnestly for her husband not knowing how injured he was and that he was bound in the bedroom and would be full of anxiety for her safety.

Eventually, she heard construction noise and mentally reasoned that it would be better to be raped than murdered and soon screamed and pounded on the door praying that God would carry her weak voice to the right ears.  Twelve hours after the abduction the door opened. About 10 construction workers and a lady were anxious to help in whatever way they could. The woman said it was a miracle that she heard the cries for help over the construction noise.  One construction worker picked her up and carried her to the construction office. The staff allowed her to shower to wash the urine off and gave her sweat pants, warm socks and a wool poncho as she was only wearing her pajamas.

She felt safe with the police and special detectives who were very kind and considerate of what she had undergone.  They arranged for medical attention and took her statement.

Meanwhile, her husband knew the seriousness of the situation and that it could end of with the death of all of them.  He got the duct-tape off, removed the lock on the door, and went to a neighbor-gringo for help who took him to the police station.  The immediate police intervention prevented a traumatic event from turning deadly.

The couple was heartsick when the police reported that their “dear friend” Adrian had confessed that he had arranged the abduction for money. Within 24 hours all the people involved were apprehended and locked up. Adrian confessed his diabolical plot in court before a judge on Thursday. The police have assured the couple that the kidnappers will not be released from prison on bond, that the couple is now safe.

The special security agents and the Loja Coronel gave their personal contact information to the North American couple and assured them that they would continue to respond and were welcome to keep in contact and notify them of any way in which the special police could help.

Both of them suffered multiple bruises and swelling from being bound as well as struggling with the kidnappers.  She suffered bruises and mild contusions on her face, in addition to bruises on her arms, wrists, and legs and a broken foot.  Those are the visible signs of being kidnapped.

The signs that are not seen are the broken trust, the self-questioning of “what did I miss?”, the inability to sleep, the loss of appetite, the hyper-vigilance, the re-living the experience, the feeling fragile, the feeling of a loss of control, the loss of “innocence”, the loss of security, the loss of feeling able to judge human character, the tremors, the feeling of being stalked, the feeling of being used/groomed, and the list goes on.

“We are home, alive, safe and so thankful! We offer a huge thank-you to all who were praying for our safety. We praise God for saving our lives!”

Thus the friends and neighbors of this couple request that their privacy be respected and to please understand that each time they repeat details of the kidnapping it is traumatizing. We hope everyone will allow them time to heal from this life-threatening trauma.

**End of victims account**

 


 

While this isn’t common, this isn’t the first kidnapping of expats in Ecuador either. Crime exists everywhere in the country (as in all countries). We were victims of an armed robbery in Cuenca.

Would you like to express your concern?

Please share your thoughts and concern to the couple in the comment section below. They will see the comments here. 

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestyoutubeFacebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestyoutube

Recommended For You

Meet the Author

Bryan Haines

Bryan Haines is editor of GringosAbroad - one of the largest English language sites about Ecuador. Work with GringosAbroad. He is a travel blogger, photographer and content marketer. He is also co-founder of ClickLikeThis (GoPro tutorial blog) and Storyteller Media (content marketing for travel brands).

58 comments… add one
  • Ericka Jan 9, 2016, 12:04 am

    One year later, another home invasion in Vilcabamba, Ecuador ( I happen to personally know one of the victims):

    http://latinamericacurrentevents.com/san-pedro-de-vilcabamba-ecuador-criminals-targeting-expats-tourists-detained/35288/

    • Bryan Haines Jan 11, 2016, 9:50 am

      Here is the report as published on Facebook (in Spanish). Thanks for sharing this info – although the link is to a poorly translated article.

  • Aleck Inglis Mar 10, 2015, 10:14 am

    How odd! There is none of the “gringo blogs” that mention that the organizer of the kidnapping (the fellow still at large in Peru) was American. One is left with a buffet of false perceptions which must create sad animosities, harmful to both communities. Is hiding the truth that important?

  • Travis Peterson Mar 8, 2015, 10:30 pm

    Very sorry that happened to you and how great it is you have had a support network. I dont always think that people need to go to jail to be punished, or to be rehabitated. Sometimes people need to go to jail so that society is safer for the rest of us.. Glad you got out of the ordeal safely!

  • Sheri Yohe Mar 8, 2015, 11:18 am

    The Kidnapping Trial is OVER!

    August 12, 2014 a kidnapping took place in our home in Vilcabamba, Ecuador. I was taken to Cuenca and placed in a storage closet in the parking garage of the Rosenthal building. Construction workers heard my cries for help and rescued me 12 hours after being taken from my home. March 3, 4 and 5 the trial was held in Loja for 3 of the four men involved. One of the kidnappers escaped to Peru. UNASE detective told me on Tuesday, March 3rd that they know his name and are still on his trail.
    On Thursday, the final day of the trial we thought the kidnappers might receive a sentence of between 10-13 years for kidnapping and extortion. Due to many extenuating circumstances the 3 judges issued a 17 year prison sentence plus damages for Adrian and Eli and 5 years 8 months for Raphael, (1/3rd of the others sentence) as an accomplice!

    There is of course the possibility of Appeal, however there would have to be some very good evidence presented to change the outcome.

    The criminals will not be able to get out early on good behavior and will be incarcerated in Cuenca’s new high-security prison. They will be allowed one visitor per month and the visit will take place through a glass partition. These are details we were told at the Protective Services Department at the police station in Loja. (I hope what I am sharing is accurate)

    Even though I was a bundle of nerves and fighting tears throughout the 3 days I could not have been better protected! During the entire ordeal the police and protective services department were so considerate of my physical and emotional well-being. There was a screen between me and the criminals throughout the trial. I could not see them and they could not see me. When the sentence was to be read military men with long, automatic guns filled the center aisle of the courtroom (small as it was) and surrounded me. I was a bit alarmed and wondered what they expected. When the judge finished reading the sentence I was surprised when the police rushed me out of the courthouse and back to the main police station 3 blocks away. No one was allowed to leave the room until I was a safe distance away.

    Edwardo, head attorney of protective services told us Thursday, after the trial, that this ruling was True Justice from the Supreme Court of Heaven and basically (in my limited translation) this was a message to all of Ecuador that Ecuador will protect all within it’s borders, Gringos the same as Ecuadoreans.

    Another Protective Services Lady said (again in my words) that it made a huge difference to the judges to see so many ‘Gringos’ present. That this is a monumental occasion for Ecuador and all who live here.

    My husband and I will continue in Protective Services for the next 6 months completing 1 year of regular police visits and services by the Loja and Vilcabamba police departments.

    We prayed for justice and I chose to accept that this is what justice looks like for these men.

    I am deeply grieved for the consequences being endured by the criminals and their families. I cried along with Adrian’s mother as the sentence was read. Oh that we could all just be kind to each other! It is hard to celebrate the imprisonment of a human being. I am sad that this kind of thing is necessary for the protection of others.

    Sheri Yohe

    • Bryan Haines Mar 8, 2015, 2:03 pm

      Thank you for the update – so glad to hear that this chapter has closed.

      Thank you for sharing your story with us.

  • Asisstant 4 Feb 5, 2015, 3:41 am

    Such a terrified story

  • Martin Aug 29, 2014, 12:20 pm

    A true demonstration of God’s ability to deliver us from any situation we may face – a time where you could have felt just hopeless you had the strength, courage and wisdom from the Lord to get you through this. Thank you for the story and I hope that you continue to heal with each day. My concerns would be that he’s maybe done this in the states or other places and he finally got caught. Hopefully all of the suspects will be rehabilitated like you said but that they aren’t able to be released for a while. I hear in other countries the laws are not as strict as the states.

  • Elissa Lopez Aug 28, 2014, 4:58 pm

    This is such a remarkable story, such a rare event where the victim is able to escape and then is open about the experience in order to educate others. We all appreciate the insight and happy to know you are both safe. I am often very trusting while traveling, especially with the natives since many are so helpful. It makes me realize that I do need to be more careful though. I read on another post online one of the kidnappers “presented himself as a cardiologist”, which is even more frightening. We tend to automatically trust those in a position of power and he probably took advantage of that. However reading that he lived in LA and him being a dr it seems strange he would need to hold someone ransom for money?! I am from Florida and I know doctor’s seem to make more than enough. Maybe was just human greed. Either way, it goes to show we need to always be cautious especially while traveling. I came across this in my search to travel to south america and I’m glad I did. I will be very selective on who I befriend. Thank you.

    • Sheri Aug 28, 2014, 9:02 pm

      Elissa, It is true that he presented himself as a cardiologist and had many people fooled even other cardiologists. He functioned comfortably in hospital settings and talked intelligently about medications and blood work… He helped us with medical situations more than once. Who knows what gets into a person to motivate them to do something like this.
      Thank you for your comments. I am glad that sharing my story is helping others.

  • richard Aug 27, 2014, 1:15 pm

    Sheri sorry to hear about you’r ordeal.I agree crime is everywhere and so are bad people.From what I hear and read before Ecuador and Cuenca still have a very low crime rate,when you compare it to other countries,and cities.DO you know by any chance if citizen can own a hand gun,rifle,etc for protection. Or is it illegal in Ecuador to own Firearms. Take care and best of luck to you.

    P.S. stay strong the LORD is with you.

    • Sheri Aug 27, 2014, 6:01 pm

      Richard, I do not know the specifics on owning a gun in Ecuador. I did ask the detective who specializes in Kidnappings and extortion which one keeps him busy. He said by far the extortion. There are not very many kidnappings that he deals with.
      I do believe the statistics of crime support that there is more crime in certain parts of the US than in Ecuador. Not sure though. I received very good police intervention and protection during this event which made me feel safer in Ecuador than before.
      I hope this helps you.
      Thanks for your kind words.

  • Stewart Aug 24, 2014, 8:25 pm

    Hello Sheri,
    I am sorry to hear about your ordeal, but I’m very glad it was not worse. I really
    believe that your prayers, faith and your husband’s fast thinking helped in this
    regard.

    I wanted to share an account that happened to a friend of my in-laws. A robber
    invaded his house alone (a poor worker) many years ago, and he was able to convince
    the robber to not only Not rob him but also to sit down and share a drink. In your case this
    was probably not possible because of the other robbers / kidnappers involved. Also
    in these times the innocence of people has been lost in general.

    Still, there are many good Ecuadorians, but even my in-laws know to not trust just anyone.
    At my job there are several workers who have asked me for help, for loans. I have helped
    even sometimes knowing they would probably not be ably to pay me back. Still I try to not
    talk about material things, especially mine to not make them jealous or tempted.

    Good luck in your future!

    • Sheri Aug 25, 2014, 5:14 pm

      Thanks Stewart, Your thoughts are well taken. We hope to be kind to all and not trust just anyone.
      Thanks for sharing with me.

  • Gwen Aug 24, 2014, 9:23 am

    My deepest sympathies for the emotional and physical trauma and a suggestion that might help. Many years ago someone broke into my wife’s house. The evidence makes it clear he was after her. She escaped but by going out the second floor window and breaking her hip on the process. She moved and got an alarm of course. Years later she moved in with me and my 110 lb dog. I noticed that she felt much safer once she was living with a dog. As women know, you can’t be bigger and badder than the bad guy but you can appear to not be worth the trouble and then he will pick an easier target. People are scared of dogs. There are easier targets without dogs. People do not mess with people with medium to large dogs. I have discussed this with security experts and police officers and they agree with me and say they are an even greater deterrent than an alarm system. In Cuenca there are many dogs in need of homes and J. Ineson can help hook you up in this regard. My wife began taking our dog with her when she went to the automatic teller. She eventually felt safe enough to do without an alarm system altogether. I understood why people were afraid of my 110 lb dog. When she died we got a 55 lb dog and I was surprised that people were just as afraid of him. My wife taught him to bark at people going by the house by giving him rewards (although most dogs do this instinctively) but it demonstrates that her feeling of security is tied to the dog and she wants people to know that a dog lives in our house. It is my hope that getting a dog will help you feel secure again. You can always arrange dog care when you want to travel, owning a dog does not have to hinder your travels. Some say that animals are better judges of character than humans and, once you rule out reactions to smells or uniforms etc, this aspect might help you feel more secure about having people in your home again. My best wishes for your emotional healing.

    • Sheri Aug 24, 2014, 6:44 pm

      Gwen, Thank you for taking the time to give some very good advise. Here we have bars on the windows – no climbing out the window. I have thought many time what I could have done when I heard those loud voices – but there was no time to react before my bedroom door burst open… It was an inside job – there was no sound until the criminals were in the house.
      I have wanted to get a big dog but we are renting where we cannot have one. The neighbors dogs is loud and protective but disappeared the day of the incident (returned two days later quite sick).
      I look forward to changing homes which will reduce the memories and allow us to get that ‘big dog’ I’ve been wanting. That will be one more layer of protection and I am sure I will also have a feeling of security.
      Thank you again.

  • Mary Aug 23, 2014, 6:24 pm

    Craig – I agree with you – the biggest scammers I have encountered in Ecuador ARE expats (but I have encountered many more kind, helpful, honest ones as well).

    Frank – crime IS everywhere and whatever crime I hear about here is still far less than what I hear about in the United States!

    Joceylyne – Ecuador is a beautiful, wonderful country and I am so grateful I have come here. “Safety” is an illusion, wherever you live and I still believe it is much worse in the states than here. That being said, Ecuador is only for you if you have REALISTIC expectations. If you come wide-eyed with “pie in the sky” expectations, you WILL be disappointed. There is good, bad and ugly about being here, just like anywhere else. I, for one, think the good far outweighs the bad, but each person has to weigh that for themselves. You definitely cannot trust everyone here, but that would be the case anywhere you live.

    Gregoire – thank you for that “forensic analysis” – while all very true, I’m sure a “just deal with it and move on” attitude is not what people who have been through that type of trauma need to hear at this point (although I’m sure they would be very gracious about your comment). Have a heart – if you had experienced something so horrific firsthand, I’m sure you would not be quite so trite in your response.

    • Sheri Aug 24, 2014, 3:00 pm

      Mary, What a voice of reason and compassion. Thank you for all you said. This expat ‘friend’ was born in Loja Ecuador. He is a native Ecuadorean so I cannot blame expats. Human people are everywhere and some of them do not have good hearts. We are so sad for what our ‘friend’ did. We still hope that this will somehow bring good to his life and rehabilitate him and the others who helped him.
      We feel it is safer here than in the States and are wonderfully surprised at the efficiency of the Special Detectives in Ecuador. They treated us wonderfully (perhaps because we are expats). We know there are corrupt police in Ecuador but what’s new with that? There are corrupt police in every city in the states as well. I can’t imagine getting this wonderful protection and care in the states. We are fortunate to be in Ecuador. We love it here and are not planning to flee the country to a place with even more corruption – in our humble opinion.
      Thank you again Mary. Our hope is that many people will read our story and be careful in every area of their lives whether here or another country. Humans are humans.

    • Gregoire Aug 24, 2014, 4:43 pm

      Would experiencing the murder of a close family member qualify me to speak on the subject? Through that event and skilled human support rather than sympathy alone I learned to forgive, understand, and look forward.

      • Sheri Aug 24, 2014, 6:48 pm

        Oh my! I am so sorry you had to go through that, Gregoire! Step by step we will also go forward. I know this situation could have been a lot worse. We were spared so much heartache.
        Thank you for sharing.

      • Mary Aug 24, 2014, 9:33 pm

        Gregorie,

        I am sorry for your loss. However, losing someone you love, even in a traumatic way, is still not the same as going through a violent trauma experience first hand. And there is “a time for every purpose under heaven.” Helpful advice has its place – but not immediately after a traumatic event. If you have had any experience with grief counseling, you would know that people who offer such advice at a time when someone is in the middle of grief are actually adding insult to injury. I am sure your journey took you more than a few weeks and I imagine at first, sympathy was the best support anyone could offer. In the time immediately following a crisis event, people just need to be cared for, not fixed.

  • Bernardo Maiguashca Aug 23, 2014, 3:47 pm

    Sincerely I am very shamed with this story, and I hope this never happen again. It turns me sad to know how people can hurt to another just for money, maybe thinking this is the easy way to obtain it. In fortune, here (in Ecuador) we live millions who believe that the work, the solidarity and honesty (whit many other attributes) can make our life rich in plenitude. From Valle de Los Chillos, my family and I wish the US couple overcome this trauma and return to the calm and offer us again a friendly relationship without fears.

    • Sheri Aug 24, 2014, 2:50 pm

      Bernardo, Thank you. Crime is worldwide, not just in Ecuador. We are so blessed to have good friends here and working on returning to a happy, calm, life. Day by Day…
      Thanks for your good wishes

  • John Thompson Aug 23, 2014, 10:11 am

    What a story. I was aware of the kidnapping, but no details. Thank you for retelling your story. As painful as it is to realize someone you have trusted has betrayed you, try to hang onto the generous spirit and loving heart that you have taken a lifetime to acquire and share with those in need. The Expat community is a generous community. Thanks again for giving us a reminder to stay aware and be cautious when it comes to personal safety.

    • Sheri Aug 24, 2014, 2:48 pm

      Thank you for your kind words John, We are working through just that – hanging onto a generous spirit and loving heart. We have chosen to forgive and hold no hatred in our hearts toward those involved. We are only deeply sad for the mess our friend has made of his otherwise promising future.
      Hopefully we can find the balance between having good friends and being suspicious of everyone. It will come in time.

  • Mary Aug 23, 2014, 9:56 am

    This account was forwarded to me by another expat I know that lives near me on the coast of Ecuador. First, may I say thank you to the couple for being willing to share all these details to help others. I moved to Ecuador almost a year ago as a single female because I knew God had been calling me to do so for years. One of the things that concerned me most was how vulnerable I would be, but I have trusted my God to protect me. However, part of that protection is reasonable caution, and every one of the crimes against expats I am personally aware of has come through an Ecuadorian they knew/trusted. I believe God brought me your information for a reason and I am praying He gives me the discernment I need – this may be so that I will be spared what has happened to you.

    I want to be “wise as a serpent and harmless as a dove” as I live among these people, still knowing that God has called me here for a purpose (all of which, I have yet to discover). I am inspired and encouraged by your faith account and hope that mine, too, will see me through whatever trials I might encounter here. Thank you again for sharing your story and I pray that God will bring total healing of your mind, body, soul and spirit and that what the enemy meant for evil, God would use for good.

    • Gregoire Aug 23, 2014, 4:01 pm

      Let’s get this event into perspective. Kidnapping is big business throughout the world; and it has been this way for millennia. And this does NOT happen only in the “developing” world.

      It is unlikely that anyone alive has not been “betrayed” by at least one person by the time they reach their middle years; it is the way we humans are.

      Give huge thanks to the people who rescued you; own and accept the situation; realize that you are again in control of your lives and that that control was only taken away for a few hours; then decide to move forward and let the memory fade as you do so.

      • Sheri Aug 24, 2014, 2:39 pm

        Yes Gregoire, We are into the second phase of healing from a very traumatic event. The phase of moving forward… We get through one day at a time.
        The reality is as you said; ‘kidnapping is big business throughout the world’, not just here in Ecuador.
        We hope others will be more aware and take the precautions needed to avoid what happened to us.
        We are very thankful to be alive and living in Ecuador.

        • Gregoire Aug 24, 2014, 5:17 pm

          Great attitude! One day at a time and small steps forward will get you where you want to be.

    • Sheri Aug 24, 2014, 2:43 pm

      Mary, Thank you for your words. It is our sincere hope that no one will need to go through what we did as a result of our story being published. May God keep you safe.
      We are also stronger for the experience. I feel certain that total healing is coming day by day. I love living here and feel that God lead us here as well. Perhaps this has prepared us for some future events.
      We are so thankful for what God did to set me free and know that He is with us always!
      Healing will come…
      Thanks again Mary

  • Frank Aug 23, 2014, 9:49 am

    It was very disheartening to hear of this tragedy. More so that a trusted friend betrayed your trust. Our thoughts and prayers are with you to heal and move past this terrible tragedy. Bryan, thank you for sharing this story as it assists in determine where we would like to retire to in the coming years. As you indicated there is crime everywhere to an extent.

    • Sheri Aug 24, 2014, 2:35 pm

      Thank you for your comments Frank. We were betrayed by a dear friend. He was born in Loja Ecuador and lived 14 years in the states – Los Angeles CA. We are far too trusting and have learned a difficult lesson. Now we feel we need “How to know when you can trust another person” classes. Thank you for your prayers we we work through the emotional damage. Our physical damage is almost completely healed. We have so many wonderful new friends! They have been very supportive and kind to us. We proceed with caution and ask ourselves over and over; “Can we trust him/her?” … We still feel safer here than in the states.

  • Jocelyne Phillips Aug 23, 2014, 8:34 am

    We are planning a trip to Ecuador in January and the more I read about this country, the more confused I get as to whether I want to consider this country to retire in. I would like to see all the wonderful places that Ecuador has to offer but I’m even rethinking our 2 month exploration trip. I’m worried since I am very trusting by nature. Should I be concerned?

    • Carolyn V. Hamilton Aug 23, 2014, 3:03 pm

      Jocelyne, do not be worried. Be prepared. Ecuador is no dangerous than any other part of the civilized world. I have lived in Cuenca for 2 1/2 years and feel very safe. Two books that might help to alleviate your concerns are A Golden Girl’s Guide to Retirement in Cuenca (an e-book at Amazon) and Travel Advisory: How to Avoid Thefts, Cons, and Street Scams (also an e-book at Amazon). The latter is a fascinating look at things that can happen all over the world, even in the US. In the end, if you are diligent about your activities and surroundings the chances of any of these things happening to you are very small. I understand that you are “trusting by nature” as are many Americans, because we have not had the experiences that many more internationally-traveled people have had. But really, don’t worry. Come and enjoy this beautiful country with the rest of us.

    • Gwen Aug 24, 2014, 9:26 am

      No. Crime happens everywhere, you are at as much or more risk by staying at home. Notice how well the authorities responded in this case. It would be nice if they always responded this well in the US.

    • Sheri Aug 24, 2014, 2:31 pm

      Jocelyne, This is the most beautiful country I have ever seen. The Andes Mountains alone are worth the trip You will enjoy your visit here. Come with your eyes open just as you would see New York or Chicago… Beautiful things to see, caution and wisdom is advised. We are not fleeing the country. We love it here!

  • Craig Aug 23, 2014, 6:26 am

    Im happy for the couple and relieved that they made it through this traumatizing event alive and intact. This is all too common in the developing world. I’ve know people who became, what they thought, were friends with others only to be scammed by them eventually, sometimes with tragic consequences. Some of the scams took years to come to fruition, far longer than this one. The scammers weren’t always locals. Sometimes the biggest scammers were expats.

    • Sheri Aug 24, 2014, 2:29 pm

      Thank you Craig, We do not think this incident is exclusive to developing countries. The sad truth is there are people everywhere who will befriend you and stab you in the back, so to speak. We are thankful to be alive and wiser for the experience. This ‘North America’ man was born in Loja Ecuador. He is native Ecuadorean, speaks perfect English as his second language. We are moving forward and working on how to trust again. We are not fleeing this country. We love it here!
      Thanks again

  • Sheri Aug 19, 2014, 7:23 am

    Thank you Luther

  • Teria Bradley Aug 17, 2014, 9:13 pm

    Even in times when lack of trust and insecure feelings really get to you, and you may at times feel no one understands, just keep in mind that God understands what you’ve been through and all the after effects resulting. He always remains close to you, and will especially do so now, like a protective father to a daughter and son. My prayers are with you.

    • Sheri Aug 19, 2014, 7:17 am

      Thank you Teria. What you said is so true!

  • Eunice Howe Aug 17, 2014, 10:33 am

    I have lived six years in Ecuador…and immersed myself within the culture…for that is why I came.
    I so feel for this couple and their experience….and can..say…that my six years have shown me..how Ecuador is
    ripe with thieves…. I have had several experiences…not life threatening..but still total dis-respect for me as a person…by people..who,,,are not without….. but have a mindset…that…if we can get more off her..we will! I tried a business venture..rented land and through a good friend..hired his brother…trusting was the word…well….the brother took me for so much..as well as the people who rented the land (all in it together)…well to do…but, it just did not matter…for they were intent upon robbing me…..any which way they could! There needs to be a country wide education system…to educate all….especially the children…Thou shalt not steal….it is wrong…it is violation of someone’s rights…I was raised poor…believe me…at times….in Northern England, we had little…but, I was blessed with a Mother who taught us, right from wrong…also kindness. It did not matter, who knocked on our door…and they were in need..my Mother extended the hand of kindness….this we learned and this I taught my children. Teach your children…for these are lessons of respect ….of raising a decent, honest…caring soul!

    • Sheri Aug 19, 2014, 7:18 am

      I am sorry for what you went through Eunice.

    • Jakob Aug 23, 2014, 11:27 am

      I am sorry to hear your experience, but I guess earlier or later we all go through this. Even within my in law family I know exactly who would take the last shirt off my body if they could. Then, there are those I would trust with my life. The only thing that helps is to form personal relationships and get to know the people you deal with really well. You will need those people you can trust blindly. There are some clues that will put you on the right track. Look at how their children act. They will reflect the values that parents ingrained in them. Look at their personal projects. People who donate their time to help neighbours, develop their community, travel for hours to a different part of the country just to recover items that were stolen from a friend (I have seen that!), purge their bank account on a moment’s notice to take the money across the country to help a stranded friend (I have seen that, too!). Those are your true allies. This is one of the reason why I have started donating time to community development and children’s education in Ecuador. It is one way to change our image from a walking ATM to a contributing human being.

      • Sheri Aug 26, 2014, 8:31 am

        Jakob, Thank you for taking the time to offer us wise words of advise.
        Our ‘friend’ met all your descriptions of a great, trustworthy person. He was donating his time to help others, would bend over backward to do whatever we needed, gave a lot of his personal time doing for others and was generous with his money, serving others seemed to be his great ambition in life… He was grooming the situation of course. We must beware of everyone it seems. One person told us “if it seems too good to be true, it is!”
        I agree with you totally about being of service to others and giving to our community. We long to merge into the local culture here and be of service to others. We have also been helping with community projects to help the children and local families.
        Thanks again for caring enough to share your thoughts with us. I really appreciate knowing that there are many great people in Ecuador.

  • Jessie Aug 16, 2014, 10:36 pm

    I have been praying for you and your husband. Our God is amazing and never let’s us down. My parents used to live in the Rosenthal and knew your abductor. They are distraught over the news and are so grateful that you and your husband are ok. I feel that God knew you were strong enough in your faith that you would be able to endure this tragedy so that a very bad group of people could be caught and exposed. We continue to pray for your recovery and if you need anything at all please do not hesitate to contact me. Love and hugs.

    • Sheri Aug 19, 2014, 7:19 am

      Thank you so much for your prayers Jessie

  • Sarah Jensen Aug 16, 2014, 9:06 pm

    Thank you for telling us your story. You were in my thoughts and prayers, and it deepens my faith to know that God was with you. May you heal more with each passing minute.

    Sarah

    • Sheri Aug 19, 2014, 7:19 am

      Thank you Sarah

  • Suzanne Marie Aug 16, 2014, 8:54 pm

    I agree with Rebecca. 🙂
    God bless this dear couple…I believe their faith helped them greatly.
    I pray God comforts them as they are healing.
    Thank you for sharing the truth.

    Thank you Bryan for the report. ~Suzanne

    • Sheri Aug 19, 2014, 7:21 am

      Thank you for your prayers of comfort and healing

  • Laura Aug 16, 2014, 7:02 pm

    I am so sorry to hear of this terrible tragedy. My heart grieves for you. The physical hurt is terrible but I do believe the emotional is worse. Believing that someone you called your friend would betray you in such a way has to be the most heart breaking. But as Christians, we remember that all of Christ’s closest friends abandoned Him and one betrayed Him. None of us is immune to this when we are loving, open people.
    I hope God can restore you physically but most of all emotionally. Let Him heal you. I am thankful to Him that He heard your cries.

    • Sheri Aug 19, 2014, 7:22 am

      Laura, I appreciate your kind words and concern. Thank you

  • Scott Bloomquist Aug 16, 2014, 5:47 pm

    This is a very insightful and detailed article – thank you for sharing. My best wishes and prayers to the couple involved; it must have been a terrifying experience. Crime does happen in every country, and the third-to-last paragraph does a great job of explaining the emotional consequences. I’m sure that this couple will be constantly looking over their shoulder and double-checking their locks from now on. A loss of trust is an incredibly difficult thing to overcome.

    • Sheri Aug 19, 2014, 7:23 am

      Thank you Scott

  • Rebecca Sterling Aug 16, 2014, 5:13 pm

    Allow me to extend my deepest sympathies and empathies at your harrowing event. Lots of us prayed for you when we heard of it. We also didn’t want to believe that a ‘friend’ was in on it. I guess he had some good in him, or he wouldn’t have confessed, allowing the case to be ‘solved’ and ended more quickly. No one who hasn’t been through it will ever understand.

    But I am so proud of you. Your faith in the God of the Bible (Yahweh) allowed you to endure great physical and emotional pain. Thank whoever was helpful in teaching you the scriptures and songs that would comfort you. Think of how much worse it might have been without the ‘Comforter’. You might have gotten in such a panic that you had a stroke or a heart attack. You were blessed to have a sure foundation.

    I know you know that our Father, and His Son, Jesus-Yahshua had to have allowed this nightmare – but it is always, always for a reason larger than the hurt – and not only greater, but will continue outside time and space, as you well know. You must gave quoted Romans 8:28-29 dozens of times to yourself: ALL things work together for good to those who love the Lord and are called according to His purposes.

    We may be able to glimpse some good that will come from this in this lifetime, but you won’t know for sure why He loved and trusted you enough to endure this, instead of someone else. I can tell you that MANY expats have now become of aware of the evil that can occur even in this lovely country, and will be more vigilant. But will be more. Perhaps the prison time for those involved will get them out of a bad life and onto a better road, of witnessing to others how far wrong a person can go.

    I could say more, but please feel my concern, love and admiration. Think how many people got to learn of a beautiful example of strength and faith in action. I will pray for you and your husband to be freed from the pain of the memory and instead feel only gratitude for yourself and pity for those who traded their morals and humanity for the chance to have a few more dollars.

    Most Respectfully sent,
    Rebecca A. Sterling, PhD, CMS, retired
    Cuenca

    • Sheri Aug 16, 2014, 7:35 pm

      Thank you Rebecca. I did quote Roman’s 8:28 over and over and surrendered to God’s will for my life. I am pleased to be trusted to endure such hardship and experience the supernatural strength of the Lord. I also pray for the people whose lives are now so terribly altered because of their pursuit for a few dollars. God is so Good and I already see many ways He is bringing good out of this.
      Thank you for your encouraging words and prayers. I slept last night in the room where I was abducted and was able to sleep without nightmares for about 5 hours. I know God is with us. I will continue to focus on the awesome ways He has blessed through this trial.

  • Luther Cale Aug 16, 2014, 4:56 pm

    Bryan, thank you for sharing this and thank you to the victims for providing this information. It is very helpful and appreciated to have accurate information about what happened. To all those involved, my prayers for healing are with you.

Leave a Comment

What Other Expats Are Buying (Before Moving to Ecuador)


Easy Spanish Phrase Book NEW EDITION: Over 700 Phrases for Everyday Use (Dover Language Guides Spanish)
$3.00