Kyrgyz Kidnap Mystery Deepens

by Laurence on 9/12/2006 · 13 comments

The ordeal of US Air Force Major Jill Metzger, 33, who disappeared while shopping in Bishkek, is turning into a real whodunit, according to the Associated Press:

Metzger, who disappeared while shopping for souvenirs in Bishkek on Tuesday, told Kyrgyz law enforcement agents she had been seized by three young men and a woman in a minibus and held in a rural area about 50 kms from the capital.

She was exhausted and her hair had been dyed, Suvanaliyev said. Metzger’s disappearance had baffled investigators, and the military had 22 special agents looking for her.

A Kyrgyz police official, Kemilbek Kiyazov, said Metzger told police that while she was in a popular department store someone placed an unspecified object in the rear pocket of her trousers. Writing on the object said it was a bomb.

The message also gave detailed instructions telling her where to go in Bishkek, which she followed, Kiyazov quoted Metzger as saying.

“Metzger stated that it was as if she were in a trance,” he said. She was then met by three men and a woman who put her into a vehicle, took her to a residence, and placed her in a dark room.

According to Kiyazov, Metzger managed to escape after an abductor brought her food and she struck him.

This account differed from one given by Metzger’s father-in-law, Kelly Mayo, who told the agency in Colorado Springs, Colorado, that the Air Force’s Office of Special Investigations said she was found on the side of the road with her head shaven. He also indicated she had been kidnapped and beaten.

“I know she’s coherent, and whoever had her let her go,” Mayo said. “We’ve got her back. Praise the Lord.”

It wasn’t immediately clear why the two accounts differed. Capt Anna Carpenter, a spokeswoman at the US air base at Bishkek’s Manas airport where Metzger had been temporarily stationed, said Metzger was in “stable condition.”

Kyrgyz police officials say that Metzger’s confused testimony is not credible–and that the US Embassy has impeded their investigation by spiriting Metzger out of the country–according to this Air Force Times story.

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jonathan p September 12, 2006 at 8:44 am

There are other reports, too, that quote Kyrgyz officials as saying she had residue from hair dye on her hands.


Laurence September 12, 2006 at 9:00 am

Well, if Metzger were not the victim of a kidnapping–and we really don’t know at this point–she might be involved in some sort of “runaway bride” psychological phenomenon, reportedly on the verge of returning to meet her husband for a belated honeymoon. We’ll have to wait and see what the Air Force does about this, if any official reports are to be issued…

Narcogen September 12, 2006 at 6:37 pm

Just to play devil’s advocate for a moment:

If one intended to kidnap a US soldier, or indeed any foreigner, would one choose the Tsum as the location for doing so?

The plan involving an explosive (or alleged explosive) as detailed would seem to have required her to be separated from her group. How could the perpetrators have known in advance this would happen?

Assuming the explosive was real, what group or individual would be willing to risk an explosion that would certainly kill far more locals than foreigners? Through what mechanism would it have been activated if the target had not complied with instructions?

Is there a group somehow sophisticated enough to remotely observe the target within an indoor area like the Tsum and, apparently, remotely detonate a small explosive in response to non-compliance with instructions, but somehow unsophisticated enough that the target escapes almost immediately? Or was it released? Either way…

Assuming the target were to be confined in a “dark room” in a concealed location, why attempt to disguise her by dyeing her hair? Assuming not, by what coercive methods were the perpetrators keeping her under control while in public in broad daylight? Certainly not still the explosive, which presumably would also kill or injure them, assuming close physical proximity?

There certainly seems to be a lot of unanswered questions here, regardless of what one thinks actually happened.

Brian September 12, 2006 at 11:31 pm

I think you pretty much summed it up. That and the fact that she had dye on her own hands, indicating that she was doing the dying, make it look pretty fishy.
Some reports play up the fact that she was found in Kant, near the Russian base, but I think spying or a Russian kidnap plot seem pretty far off target here.

jonathan p September 13, 2006 at 11:37 am

I like the being in a trance part, myself. Maybe it was those gypsy ladies who put you in a trance and convince you to hand over your money… 😉

man September 13, 2006 at 11:14 pm

there is something wrong. I think one more silly american game. They just want to show how unprofessional are kiddnappers and how strong, experienced she is, I do not give a damn. do not believe this bullshitt. So, funny, I think the author of this stupid story must have watched many James Bond movies. very silly!

Ataman Rakin September 14, 2006 at 1:21 am

That the case is clearly fabricated and that one or another silly game is being played is most clear.

It somehow reminds me that dodgy grenade attack on Akayev’s as dodgy sec chief Misir Ashyrkulov in 2002 ( ).

I am actually surprised that the Kyrgyz KGB, in an upsurge of originality, has not yet blamed “Islamic extremists” (‘the Hizb-ut-Tahrir’ and ‘the IMU’) for the kidnapping.

Laurence September 14, 2006 at 7:30 am

Metzger’s dad told Raleigh-Durham, NC channel 11 tv news that he believes his daughter –recently examined at a military hospital in Germany–had been kidnapped:

Metzger says she was kidnapped from a Kyrgyzstan shopping mall September 5 and managed to escape three days later.

But as Metzger recovers at a hospital in Germany, investigators reportedly are looking at inconsistencies in her story. Her father, retired Lt. Col. John Metzger tells Eyewitness News that his newlywed daughter definitely was kidnapped.

“This was no runaway bride scenario,” he said.

Metzger adds his daughter was found with two black eyes and a number of bruises. There is no word on when she will return to the United States.

Laurence September 14, 2006 at 7:35 am

Here’s today’s coverage of the Metzger story, dateline Berlin, from Stars and Stripes, the military newspaper:

KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — Air Force Maj. Jill Metzger issued a public statement Wednesday, marking the first time she has been directly quoted since reportedly being kidnapped and escaping her captors last week in Kyrgyzstan.

“Right now I’m trying to focus on healing myself mentally and physically,” said Metzger in a U.S. Air Forces in Europe news release. “I’m healthy and recovering, and looking very forward to heading back to the states to see my family. I appreciate everyone’s understanding in respecting my privacy while I rest and try to get through this.”

Metzger is still undergoing the debriefing process at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center where she is listed in “good” condition, according to the release.

“We will continue to care for Maj. Metzger for as long as the debriefing process takes,” said Col. John Collins, Landstuhl chief of staff, in the news release. “She has been through a lot, and we hope she will be able to fly back to the states in the next day or so.”

Laurence September 15, 2006 at 7:37 am

According to WALB-TV, Metzger has arrived in Georgia. Report here.

“We are elated that Jill is home and we have a team in place to help get her through the final phases of the reintegration process,” said Col. Kenn Todorov, 347 th Rescue Wing vice commander during a brief statement after Maj. Metzger’s arrival here. “Her health and well being are our primary concern right now as we help on her path to full recovery.”

Metzger has said right now she’s focused on getting back to normal. She’s recovering and looking forward to spending time with her family. She has requested everyone’s understanding in respecting her privacy at this time.

Curiously there is no mention of finding Metzger’s kidnappers, bringing them to justice (presumably kidnapping a USAF officer is some sort of crime),or demands that Kyrgyzstan do so.

Laurence September 15, 2006 at 7:42 am has a Dicussion Board on Metzger’s kidnap story. Many posts express doubts about Metzger’s story.

W. Shedd September 17, 2006 at 9:26 pm

If the case were fabricated, a much more convincing story and scheme could have been created.

I’ve been of the opinion that she experienced some sort of “runaway bride” syndrome. My friend, Ms. Skochilo of Bishkek, is of the opinion that Jill Metzger’s just went out and got really smashed at some club before she traveled home, and invented a cover story. I’m curious about the phone calls she made to locals in Bishkek, prior to shutting her phone off.

I get the feeling the Air Force is just going to bury this story and let her finish her career. It is doubtful that any real perpetrators will be found.

dave November 4, 2006 at 5:11 am

Well, this all sounds like a big crock of _____ ! Either the riff-raff in Kirgyz are complete idiots, or this “model” USAF Officer was trying to turn herself into a hero – Sounds to me like she may have mental issues. I have to admit that the whole plot was very fun reading – reminded me of a comic strip.

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