Tamarac, Florida couple Abigail and Jean-Dickens Toussaint were kidnapped during a visit to Haiti earlier this month and their family says they’re being held at ransom, CBS News reports.
The 33-year-olds were kidnapped near Port-au-Prince on March 18 when they were on their way to visit a sick relative in Leogane, and on Sunday (March 26) their family received a phone call demanding money for their safe return. “He said that they are tied up, they’re okay, so to speak, because it was a brief call,” said Jean-Dickens’ sister Nikese Toussaint, who noted “okay” could mean as little as “still alive and breathing.”
“We don’t know if they got hurt, if they’re eating well,” added niece Christie Desormes. “If they’re even getting water, clear water.” The kidnappers have allegedly asked for $200,000 for the return of the couple and a friend who was traveling with them. “I just receive a message from the FBI. The person the FBI is in contact to negotiate with the gang, tried, they did not answer,” said Jean-Dickens’ sister. “They’re going to continue, I hope, until they get an answer.”
According to CNN affiliate WPLG, Desormes said that the kidnappers initially demanded $6,000 for the release of the couple but later increased the amount to $200,000 per person.
“Once we sent that money, they tried to up the price to $200,000 per person and we don’t have that type of money,” Desormes said, per WPLG.
The FBI has neither confirmed or denied an investigation into the kidnapping, per the bureau’s guidelines.
“I just want the Haitian community to know that it is not a safe place to go right now. I know we love our country and we want to get the fresh air of our country, but please stay home, stay in America,” said Nikese Toussaint. The U.S. State Department has confirmed they are aware of the reports of the two U.S. citizens that are currently missing in the Caribbean country.