MONTPELIER, Vt. — Federal authorities say they believe two Vermont-based missionaries who were captured in Haiti this spring had an apparent $100,000 ransom demand — in the form of a tablet computer — in hand for their return before being pulled from a helicopter.
The figure was included in a confidential report by American law enforcement authorities that documented the likely fate of Ken and Ruth White after they were kidnapped in March by gunmen who knew their names and were heard issuing the demand on a speaker phone.
The statements to law enforcement in March were included in a redacted version of the report obtained by The Associated Press through the Freedom of Information Act.
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The audiotape of the two missionaries confessing to the crime was briefly posted in the Vermont jail where they have been held. Ken White said he had been paid $25,000 — after paying a third party to arrange the kidnapping — for his couple’s release.
The International Justice Mission, the Washington-based group founded by the White family, announced it would pay a $1 million ransom in May — a payment the FBI said the couple did not accept. A spokesman for the White family later said the group never collected the ransom.
The FBI said it no longer wants to make a formal appeal for the couple’s return, so it can focus on building a case to convict their kidnappers.
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In the report, the FBI said it received an anonymous tip the kidnappers were likely headed to Florida. It said the kidnappers reported a shipment of electronic tablet computers valued at $100,000 in Tampa, Florida, in April. The FBI said it has no evidence the shipment was intended for Haiti.
The nonprofit has been operating in Haiti since 2013, but had run into some problems this year, including angry Haitian villagers who suspected it was operating a pyramid scheme and a loss of thousands of dollars in donations to a local church.
Ken White, a retired elementary school teacher and painter, and his wife were captured on March 25 while they walked along a beach to help neighbors.
Before the Aug. 28 raid that killed their abductors, the missionaries were seen in jail with a woman whose name was included in the document, but was redacted, the FBI report shows. In previous interviews, the couple has identified her as Haylen Lindemann, of Washington state. The report doesn’t say where the women were held at the time.
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A spokeswoman for the International Justice Mission said Lindemann was detained by the State Department but not criminal investigators.
As for the presumed demands and the total amount of ransom payments, federal prosecutors and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Vermont have said little on the matter. The report cites an anonymous informer who heard the demands for $100,000 after the couple were captured.