Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Péru: US Bike Shop Offers Reward For Leads on Alleged Disappearance of US Couple

As a follow-up to my posting of February 24, concerning the alleged disappearance of American couple Jamie Neal and Garrett Hand, 27 and 25, respectively, after they were last seen on January 25, boarding a bus from Cuzco to Lima, Jeff Jerge, owner of The Pedaler Bicycle Shop in El Sobrante, CA, has reportedly raised a reward of $4,000 for information about his former employee [Neal].

The young couple subsequently embarked on a once-in-a-lifetime bicycle trek through South America last fall [2012].

Friends and family of the couple describe the two as having disappeared, largely because the two stopped emailing, using financial accounts and posting their adventures on Facebook.

COMMENT: Although the ending of financial transactions could be a "red flag" of a genuine disappearance, the reality is that Internet communications is unreliable throughout much of rural Latin America.  

After hearing nothing for two weeks, family members contacted the US Department of State which has joined the effort to locate Neal and Hand, using their various host government contacts. 

Concern for the couple has been elevated by the dissemination of a kidnap threat released in the form of a travel warning by the US Embassy in Lima on February 13, in the Cuzco and Machu Picchu areas. That threat is valid through the end of February. 

Although it is commendable that Jeff Jerge's reward was announced in THE SACRAMENTO BEE, it would have been far more useful if he had small ads placed in Spanish in newspapers in Lima, Cuzco and Machu Picchu, where locals that might have seen the couple could report sightings or leads.

Jerge is asking anyone with information to call him at (510) 589-6644, or email help@theped.com.