A woman who traveled to the Mexican border with the four Americans who were kidnapped in the country said that she warned police when the group didn’t return on schedule. Cheryl Orange told the Associated Press via text message that she was with Eric Williams, Latavia McGee, Zindell Brown and Shaeed Woodard. McGee was scheduled to have cosmetic surgery in the Mexican city of Matamoros last Friday, and the other three were meant to cross back into the United States and reconvene with Orange in the Texas city of Brownsville within 15 minutes of dropping her off.
Instead, the four friends were attacked shortly after arriving in the city. The FBI told CBS News that they were fired upon by drug cartel factions, and the white van they were driving crashed. A Mexican woman was killed in the initial attack, and the four Americans were kidnapped. According to the police report filed by Orange and reviewed by CBS News, the group was reported missing by Orange on Saturday.
On Tuesday, Mexican and American officials said that the four had been rescued. Brown and Woodard were dead, officials said, and Williams was injured. McGee and Williams were repatriated to the United States. Officials were still “in the process of working to repatriate the remains” of the two victims who were killed, State Department spokesperson Ned Price said. The attack and kidnappings remain under investigation. “(McGee) simply went for a cosmetic surgery, and that’s it,” Orange told the AP. “That’s all, and this happened to them.”
According to the police report, Orange believed McGee was planning to undergo a gluteal augmentation. Orange did not have any information about the medical office McGee was going to, nor did she know which route her friends were taking to get to Matamoros. Orange told police that the only reason she stayed in the group’s Brownsville hotel room was because she had forgotten her identification and couldn’t cross the border. She had their luggage, she told police, and had tried contacting the group several times, but their phones seemed to be “turned off.”
It’s not yet known when the FBI was informed of the missing group. Officials have not offered many details on how the group was recovered, though the attorney general in Tamaulipas, the state where Matamoros is located, said that it was through joint search operations with American and Mexican entities. Tamaulipas is one of several Mexican territories that is under a “Do Not Travel” advisory from the U.S. State Department. The department has cited concerns such as crime and kidnapping.