15 of the 17 missionaries who were held hostage prior to leaving Haiti.(Photo: Christian Aid Ministries)

A ransom was paid to the gang behind the kidnapping of a group of missionaries in Haiti, a family member has said. 

Ray Noecker told MLive that he did not know how much was paid in total to the 400 Mawozo gang, nor how it was paid, but that a sum was delivered to secure the release of the entire group of 17. 

They were kidnapped in October while on their way to the airport after visiting a Christian Aid Ministries-supported orphanage. 

The group included Noecker’s wife, Cheryl, and 6-year-old son Sheldon, who were among five freed early by the gang on medical grounds.

Gang leader, Wilson Joseph, had threatened to kill all the missionaries unless $1m per person was paid for their release.

“There had been a ransom agreement reached with the hostage-takers, and to my understanding that ransom was actually delivered the Sunday night that my wife and son and the other lady were released,” said Noecker, who is himself a missionary.

“The ransom agreement was for the entire group but there was some division within the gang so they were not able to release all of them at that time.

“So that would be one of the reasons the gang would have told the group that were in captivity that they were being released because of the sores, the medical condition of my wife and the other lady.”

On December 15, after being held for around two months, the remaining 12 in captivity made a daring escape while their captors were distracted with charging their phones.   

The escapees included Noecker’s four other children, Cherilyn, 27, Courtney, 18, Brandon, 16, and Kosandra, 14.

Throughout their captivity, Christian Aid Ministries (CAM) asked supporters for constant prayer. 

CAM spokesman Weston Showalter said the 12 missionaries walked through the night for miles before finding safety. 

“With God’s help, protection, and leading, they quickly made their way through the night,” he said.

“They walked for possibly as much as 10 miles, traveling through woods and thickets, working through thorns and briars. One of the hostages said, ‘Two hours [of the walk] were through fierce brambles. We were in gang territory the whole hike.’

“The moon provided light for their path. During times they weren’t sure which way to go, they stopped and prayed, asking God to show them.”

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