Four people have been arrested in connection with the kidnapping and fatal stabbing of an American comic and community activist who was on vacation in Colombia.
Fifty-year-old Tou Ger Xiong’s remains were found on 11 December in the city of Medellin after he reportedly went out with a woman he had met on social media. Just days before his remains were discovered, he had called family members asking for them to send the money his alleged kidnappers demanded.
The local prosecutor’s office said on Thursday that a woman and two men have been charged with aggravated kidnapping for extortion and aggravated homicide. The suspect denied the charges during a court appearance, a statement said.
A minor who was also charged with the crimes admitted to participating in the kidnapping plot and was transferred to a juvenile centre.
The US Embassy in Bogota said that eight suspicious deaths of US citizens in Medellin had been reported in the last two months of 2023. According to the embassy, the deaths have resulted from drugging, involuntary overdose, and several involve the use of online dating applications.
“Criminals use dating apps to lure victims to meet in public places such as hotels, restaurants, and bars, and then later assault and rob them,” the statement read. “Numerous US citizens in Colombia have been drugged, robbed, and even killed by their Colombian dates.”
Xiong arrived in Medellin on 29 November and had been posting snippets of his trip on social media. On Facebook, he shared a video seemingly recorded at a Karol G concert, as well as another video of himself enjoying a sunny pool day and listening to upbeat music.
Xiong’s brother Eh Xiong told Kare11 that he received a call from his slain brother asking for $20,000.
Eh, Xiong said he didn’t find the request unusual as his brother often borrowed money from him while on vacation, but he couldn’t send the money right away because he was about to catch a flight. According to Colombian prosecutors, a friend of Xiong’s later sent more than $3,000 to the account of one of the kidnappers.
However, the victim was brutally stabbed and his body was thrown off a cliff before it was found by authorities on 11 December.
Family members of Xiong told Kare11 that they have planned a three-day memorial to commemorate his life.