Woman on Mission Trip Found Dead in Nicaragua

Expand | Collapse
(Photo: Screengrab/WBZ-TV)Karen Colclough, 37, of Wilson, Wyo., was found murdered in Nicaragua during a mission trip with her church, the Presbyterian Church of Jackson Hole. Colclough's body was discovered on April 14, 2014.

The body of a Wyoming woman who was on a mission trip in Nicaragua was found near the hotel where her team was staying.

Karen Colclough, 37, checked in with team leaders before leaving her group of six Friday to go for a run on the beach during the mission trip's free day. She did not show up for dinner that night and by Monday evening (three days later), pastor Paul Hayden of Presbyterian Church of Jackson Hole confirmed that her body had been found.

"About half an hour ago our team leader in Nicaragua was notified that they had found Karen's body. They found her a bit beyond the hotel boundaries where the team was staying during their debriefing time. Additional information has not been released," Hayden told Planet Jackson Hole.

According to CBS Boston, which covered the story because Colclough's parents reside in her hometown of Lynnfield, Mass., her body was found a quarter mile from the resort where her team had been staying, and authorities have a suspect in custody.

The team's mission work for the week concluded Thursday and the group had moved to Barcelo Montelimar, a beach resort, to debrief the trip.

Hayden also reported that members of the Wyoming church travel to Central America twice a year and that Colclough had previously traveled to Guatemala.

Colclough's father, Doug, told a CBS Boston that he and his wife had told "her to be very careful because it was a dangerous place."

"She's also been into helping others. Even in high school," Doug continued, speaking before he heard the news of his daughter's death. He added that what "scared him more than anything," was someone taking advantage of his daughter's willingness to help.

Agros International, the nonprofit that organized the trip with the Presbyterian Church of Jackson Hole, issued a statement on its Facebook page. "We are devastated to learn of Karen's passing and extend our heartfelt condolences to Karen's parents, family and her remarkable circle of friends — all who love her deeply. May the Lord bless and keep Karen in His embrace as He comforts and strengthens those who mourn her."

The nonprofit, which supports rural families in Central America and Mexico, had worked with the Nicaraguan National Police, the Nicaraguan Army and the Nicaraguan Red Cross to locate Colclough. It also met with United States Ambassador Phyllis M. Powers earlier this week to find the humanitarian, who was on her second missions trip and only spoke English.

Other search efforts included horseback and ATV searches, flyer distributions in the area close to the hotel and partnering with World Vision's director of security.