Father of kidnapped missionaries is grateful they’re free

U.S. & World

HART, Mich. (AP) — The father of four Christian missionaries from Michigan who were among 12 who escaped from kidnappers in Haiti expressed gratitude Tuesday and said they’re in good shape.

Two more family members were also kidnapped but were released a few weeks ago. They’re associated with Hart Dunkard Brethren Church in Hart, about 190 miles (306 kilometers) northwest of Detroit.

A church elder, Ron Marks, read a statement from Ray Noecker, whose wife, Cheryl, and five of their children were kidnapped in October.

“My family is all together and in good health. We are rejoicing together over the many ways that God answered the prayers of his people from all around the world,” said Ray, who added that the family plans to return to Michigan soon.

Church member Carleton Horst identified the six hostages from Michigan as Cheryl Noecker, 48, Brandyn Noecker, 15, Kasondra Noecker, 14, Courtney Noecker, 18, Shelden Noecker, 6, and Cherilyn Noecker, 27.

Cheryl and Shelden were released a few weeks ago, Horst said.

They were in Haiti on behalf of Ohio-based Christian Aid Ministries and were among 17 people abducted on Oct. 16, shortly after visiting an orphanage in Ganthier, in the Croix-des-Bouquets area.

Twelve made a risky overnight escape last week, walking for miles over difficult terrain with an infant and other children in tow, according to the organization known as CAM. Five were released earlier.

Ray Noecker, 49, was in Haiti with his family but was not at the orphanage when the abduction took place.

Horst and Marks offered no details about the escape in a Zoom conference call with reporters.

“The story is for them to tell,” Horst said.

Captors from the 400 Mawozo gang initially demanded millions of dollars in ransom. It is unclear if a ransom was paid.

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