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Couple Missing in Peru Sparks Fears of Kidnapping, International Search (VIDEO)

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By Sami K. Martin , Christian Post Reporter
February 26, 2013|6:58 am

A couple missing in Peru has sparked international concern. Garrett Hand and Jamie Neal were last heard from on Jan. 25; the area they went missing in poses even more serious fear for their safety.

Hand and Neal were on cycling trip through Peru, specifically through the Andean countryside when they disappeared. They never made it to Peru, causing great concern due to threats of kidnapping in the area. United States citizens are specifically vulnerable, and U.S. and Peruvian officials have launched an investigation into the disappearance.

"Embassy officers are… in close contact with Peruvian authorities who are working diligently to find Mr. Hand and Ms. Neal," read a statement given to Reuters by information officer Leslie Nunez Goodman.

However, there are discrepancies between the Peruvian officials' account of what happened and the U.S. Embassy's statement that diplomats knew of "no connection between the disappearance of these two U.S. citizens" and the travel advisory warning of kidnappings.

There are also conflicting reports about when the couple actually disappeared. One group in Peru has said that Hand and Neal were aboard a boat to Ecuador on Feb. 16, three weeks after they were supposedly last heard from.

"Somebody knows where they are and we want them to come home safely, and anything anybody can do to help us to get them home safely, we appreciate," Francine Fitzgerald, Hand's mother, told ABC News. "We want them to come home safely."

"We're just hanging in there," Hand's father added. "You don't know what you don't know. So we're, by faith, holding on that they're OK."

The family has collected $4,000 as a reward for information leading to the couple's safe return. They have been working to print as many flyers as possible and get them distributed to Peru.

Hand's parents said that there had been no communication with their son or Neal since Jan. 25. No one has used his bank account, and authorities have surveillance footage of the couple leaving a bus station in Lima on Jan. 26. That was the last time they were seen.

"We're just very concerned because we haven't heard from Garrett and we want him to come home, now," Fitzgerald pleaded.

Watch a video of the couple HERE:

 

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