OKLAHOMA CITY — An Oklahoma City couple whose 18-year-old son went missing during a family vacation in Ecuador in June has returned home without him.
August Reiger, who graduated among the top of his high school class in May, disappeared June 16 while out for a hike near hotel where his family was staying in the mountain town of Banos.
Although no ransom demands have been made, Ecuadoran authorities believe that Reiger was kidnapped because they have no other reasonable explanation for his disappearance. Family members have said Reiger likely would have been found by now if he had gotten lost or fallen off a trail into rugged terrain.
Although the search for their son continues in the South American country, Chris and Randa Reiger recently returned home to Oklahoma City, where a younger son had to begin his freshman year at Classen School of Advanced Studies, from which August graduated near the top of his class in May.
"I'm sure it's the hardest thing they've ever had to do in their lives," August's aunt, Christi Reiger. "It's hard to imagine leaving your child somewhere not knowing if they are safe."
Kidnappings are common in much of Latin America, but Banos is considered safe for tourists and there hadn't been any recent reports of kidnappings in the area when Reiger went missing.
"Not knowing is torture on the family, and I'm sure on his friends, as well," Christi Reiger said. "We don't know what to think or where he is or what his circumstances are. You feel totally helpless."
Reiger's parents stayed in the area for more than a month before returning home. There have been three credible sightings of August, including two by the same person, Christi Reiger said. Witnesses gave similar stories about the people who were with him, although authorities have not said whether they think any specific group is responsible for his kidnapping, the newspaper reported.
August Reiger's friends said after the kidnapping that he had been offered a full scholarship to the University of Oklahoma.
AP Source: The Oklahoman