The horrifying story of three Americans abducted, robbed and beaten in Peru recently has seen the light of day, but not to the extent I would expect it to.
I first came across the story of brother and sister, Jennifer Wolfrom and Joseph Wolfrom, and Joseph’s wife, Meghan Doherty, on Reddit the other day. The story had hardly been viewed, but I couldn’t take my eyes away from it. What should have been an innocent trip to Cuzco, Peru, on the way to Machu Picchu became a nightmare when the three Americans were forced to park their car under a nearby bridge because of intimidating darkness. It was Jennifer’s 30th birthday, so the three shared two beers. As reported on their blog, two villagers came by and told them it was alright for them to park their car in the spot overnight. Curiously though, the villagers began blowing whistles and alerting other villagers to their presence through cellphones. More villagers gathered near the group and demanded to see the documents of the travelers. The American travelers refused to show documents to people who weren’t police or government officials. They felt nervous and decided to leave, but the villagers began throwing rocks at their car.They decided to drive back in the direction from which they had come. The road came to a dead end after about 10 minutes of driving, however, and a man at the end of the road told the Americans that they could not stay there. The travelers had no choice but to drive back in the direction toward the villagers where rocks were again continuously thrown at their vehicle and a barricade was built hastily by villagers. While trying to avoid the rocks being thrown at the car, Joseph drove the car into a ditch. They tried to repel the attackers with bear spray and ran away on foot. Villagers continued to chase the three, pelting them with rocks all along the way.
“There were at least 30 people chasing us and throwing rocks at us at one point. We were running for our lives for between 30 minutes to an hour through the village hills and rivers,” Jennifer said in an entry online.
They were eventually so badly hurt that they were abducted by the villagers and taken back to a man called the “Presidente.” He ordered them to walk through cold rain toward a village school. They were beaten along the way and once they arrived to the school, dozens of villagers urged the man to kill the three of them. They were whipped and beaten for hours. Joseph’s teeth were knocked out. All of their possessions and documents were stolen from them. During at least one point in the night, a shot was fired toward the group while they begged for their lives.
After all of the abuse, they were asked to sign a document, which asserted that they had crashed the car because they were drunk and that they sustained their injuries through the car accident. Fearing for their lives, they signed the false document. They were eventually taken back to their gutted vehicle and villagers stayed with them until the police arrived and stood by as they told the police the fabricated story.
The Americans were then transported to a nearby town where they finally were able to use a phone to call the US Consulate in Cuzco. They filled out a police report at that point in time describing what had actually happened and they were treated for injuries. Between the three of them, around 100 stitches were administered. As of the latest update, they are still stranded in Peru and receiving medical attention while planning their trip home to the U.S.
Read more about this travel nightmare on their blog, Adventure Americas.
[Photo Credit: Digital Journal]