Florida couple reportedly kidnapped in Haiti; State Department ‘aware of reports of 2 US citizens missing’
The family of a Florida couple missing in Haiti say the two American citizens were ordered off of a bus and kidnaped in the Caribbean nation a week and a day ago.
Relatives of Jean-Dickens Toussaint and his wife, Abigail Toussaint, both 33, say they already paid $6,000 in ransom, but now the alleged kidnapers are demanding upward of $200,000 per person. The couple, who live in Tamarac, in Broward County, Fla., reportedly left behind their young son, who will turn two in a matter of days.
“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. We are aware of reports of two U.S. citizens missing in Haiti,” a State Department spokesperson said in a statement to Fox News Digital Sunday. “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.”
The couple’s 22-year-old niece, Christie Desormes, who lives out of state in Silver Spring, Maryland, recently told WPLG that the Toussaints had only planned to be in Haiti for four days to visit family and attend a festival. But on March 18, she says, the couple was kidnaped while taking a bus from the Port-Au-Prince area.
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“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,” Desormes told the outlet.
“I’m still in a state of shock,” the couple’s niece added. “It feels like it didn’t happen, but I know it did, especially since I saw them last month for my birthday.”
“I do have the worst-case scenario playing in my head, but obviously I don’t want that to happen,” she said. “We just want to hear their voice as proof that they are still alive.”
Desormes, joined by her mother, said the family already paid $6,000 in ransom, but now the alleged kidnapers upped their fee.
“Once we sent that money, they tried to up the price to $200,000 per person, and we don’t have that type of money,” she said.
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The couple’s son, whose second birthday is March 28, is in the care of his grandfather, Abigail’s father, the women said.
“Please help us bring them back home to him and our family. They are U.S. citizens. They are parents. They are siblings. They are my family,” Desormes wrote in a petition on Change.org. “They are loved and most of all they are people who desperately need your help. My Family and I have been stressing and doing everything we can to bring them back home, and now we need you and your voice to not only sign the petition but to spread the word and to talk to your local representatives to do something to rescue them as they did before for the 17 missionaries who were kidnapped in Haiti and returned unharmed last year.”
In December 2021, the FBI and State Department played a role in efforts to free 16 Americans and one Canadian who traveled to Haiti on a missionary trip, NPR reported.
Violence and abductions reportedly surged in the country following the assassination of Haitian president Jovenel Moïse in July of that year.
As of Dec. 1, 2022, the U.S. State Department urged Americans not to travel to Haiti due to kidnapping, crime, and civil unrest.
“U.S. citizens should depart Haiti now in light of the current security and health situation and infrastructure challenges,” the Level 4 advisory reads.
Source: Fox News