MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — The wife of a Lake City native who was one of four kidnapped in Mexico last week is thankful he’s alive but is heartbroken for the families of the two who were found dead.
Michelle Williams, the wife of Eric Williams, said she didn’t know where he was going, just that he was going to help two friends. She said the FBI showed up at her door on Sunday to inform her of what happened.
“I didn’t hear from him after Friday,” she said. “Friday morning he texted me and I texted him back immediately. He didn’t respond so I’m going to assume that’s when he was ambushed.”
Michelle Williams said the whole incident has been surreal. She explained the feeling she got when she found out her husband was still alive and at a hospital in the United States.
“I had a sense of relief,” she said. “Because I haven’t slept since Sunday. My heart is breaking for the other two families that don’t get to say the same.”
Michelle Williams stressed that the group wasn’t doing anything illegal, citing social media rumors.
“They weren’t doing anything illegal,” she said. “And I highly doubt they thought this could’ve happened to them.”
Zindell Brown, another one of the Americans kidnapped, is from Myrtle Beach and has family members living in the Pee Dee, according to the Associated Press. Officials have not said which two were killed.
Lake City officials said all four of those who were kidnapped are native to Lake City. In a news briefing Tuesday afternoon, Mayor Yamekia Robinson issued a statement offering condolences to all of the families involved, but directed all questions to the U.S. Department of State.
Authorities have said Zindell Brown, Latavia “Tay” McGee, Shaeed Woodard and Eric Williams were kidnapped in an area of the country dominated by factions of the powerful Gulf drug cartel. They were traveling in a white van with a North Carolina license plate, and entered the city of Matamoros from Brownsville, at the southernmost tip of Texas.
Zalandria Brown told the AP that Zindell and two friends were with a third friend who was going to Mexico for a “tummy tuck” cosmetic surgery.
Tamaulipas Gov. Américo Villarreal said the four were found in a wooden shack, where they were being guarded by a man who was arrested. Villarreal said the captive Americans had been moved around by their captors, and at one point were taken to a medical clinic “to create confusion and avoid efforts to rescue them.”
The two dead will be turned over to U.S. authorities following forensic work at the Matamoros morgue in the coming hours, the governor said.
The U.S. citizens were found in a rural area east of Matamoros called Ejido Tecolote on the way to the Gulf coast known as “Bagdad Beach,” according to Tamaulipas state chief prosecutor Irving Barrios.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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Maya Lockett is a reporter at News13. Maya is from Los Angeles. She joined the News13 team in November 2021. She graduated from Syracuse University. Follow Maya on Twitter and read more of her work here.
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Kevin Accettulla is the digital executive producer at News13. Kevin is from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He joined the News13 team in March 2020 after nearly two years at a sister station in Pennsylvania. Follow Kevin on Twitter and read more of his work here.