A Florida couple has reportedly been kidnapped in Haiti and is being held for hundreds of thousands of dollars in ransom.
Jean-Dickens Toussaint, and his wife Abigail Toussaint, both 33, have been held hostage since Saturday, Miami ABC News affiliate WPLG reported.
The couple’s niece, who identified herself as Christie but did not provide her last name, said that the couple went to Haiti to visit family and attend a festival. They were reportedly kidnapped on a bus ride from the capital city of Port-au-Prince.
“They stopped the bus at a stop and then asked for Americans to get off the bus and their escorts off the bus, and then they took them,” Christie told the news station. She said that the kidnappers initially demanded $6,000, which the family paid, but then the ransom went up to $200,000 per person.
“We don’t have that type of money,” Christie told WPLG.
The U.S. State Department had little information to share.
“The U.S. Department of State and our embassies and consulates abroad have no greater priority than the safety and security of U.S. citizens overseas,” a spokesperson told Law&Crime in an emailed statement. “We are aware of reports of two U.S. citizens missing in Haiti. When a U.S. citizen is missing, we work closely with local authorities as they carry out their search efforts, and we share information with families however we can. We have nothing further to share at this time.”
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Nikese Toussaint, the sister of Jean-Dickens Toussaint, told ABC News that family members didn’t know how to reach police in Haiti, but they have reached out to the U.S. Embassy and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
She also said that they were worried about the couple making the trip due to political unrest and gang violence. The State Department currently has a “Do Not Travel” warning for Americans considering going to Haiti.
“We were very worried when they said they were going, we told them not to go but they wanted to go,” she told ABC News.
The Toussaints have a 1-year-old son who was not on the trip with them, Nikese Toussaint said. The couple is from Tamarac, about 30 miles north of Miami.
The couple’s niece, Christie, told WPLG that she’s struggling to stay positive.
“I do have the worst-case scenario playing in my head, but I keep trying to reject it because I don’t want that to happen,” she told the station.
“We just want to hear their voice as proof that they are still alive,” she also said.
An online petition organized by Christie is pleading for the couple’s safe return
“They are U.S. citizens,” the petition says. “They are parents. They are siblings. They are my family. They are loved and most of all they are people who desperately need your help.”
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