Archive for Tuesday, March 25, 2008

KC contractor in Iraq 1 of 2 found dead

John R. Young, from Kansas City, Mo., is shown in this image taken from video made on Dec. 21, 2006.

John R. Young, from Kansas City, Mo., is shown in this image taken from video made on Dec. 21, 2006.

March 25, 2008

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— Authorities have recovered the remains of two U.S. contractors who were kidnapped in Iraq more than a year ago, the FBI said Monday.

The men were among six Western contractors kidnapped in separate incidents. Their disappearance received new attention earlier this month when the severed fingers of several men were sent to the U.S. military in Iraq.

The FBI identified the contractors Monday as Ronald Withrow of Roaring Springs, Texas, and John Roy Young of Kansas City, Mo.

Withrow worked for JPI Worldwide when he was kidnapped in January 2007. Young worked for Crescent Security Group when he was kidnapped in November 2006.

The FBI said it had notified the families of the two men.

Withrow's mother, Barbara Alexander, said an FBI agent delivered news of her son's death Sunday night.

"You just can't really be prepared for any news like that, especially when you had hope that your son is alive," Alexander said by phone from her home in Afton, Texas. "I know he's safe from all harm now. We're bringing him home. That was what our main concern was. And that they're not going to hurt him anymore."

Alexander read from what she said was the final entry in a notebook in which she addressed her son directly.

"I know God has taken you home. I'm just someone that's taken care of you," Alexander said. "It's hard to believe that you're gone. But you're in a more peaceful place than here. I'll see you when I can. Wait for me at the gates of heaven."

Young's mother, Sharon DeBrabander, said Monday that she had heard the reports but then said her family had been told by the FBI not to comment. She said she may be able to respond in a day or two.

In a brief statement, FBI spokesman Richard Kolko said the kidnapping was under investigation. The statement offered no details about the other missing men.

The other men still missing are: Paul Reuben, of Minneapolis; Jonathon Cote, of Getzville, N.Y.; Joshua Munns, of Redding, Calif.; and Bert Nussbaumer, of Vienna, Austria. A finger from each was received by the military recently. Young was abducted with those men but none of his fingers was sent to the U.S. military.

Cote's father, Francis Cote, said he had spoken to the families of Withrow and Young.

"We feel very sad that this is how it turned out. We wish it turned out a better way," he said from his home in Getzville, near Buffalo, N.Y.

He said he was holding out hope that his son was still alive but the recent discovery had dampened those hopes.

"Let me say this, I'm not as optimistic as I was in the past," he said.

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