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Higgins’ Sister Wary of Report, Upset at State Department With AM-Hostages-Higgins, Bjt

December 23, 1991

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) _ A sister of slain American hostage Lt. Col. William R. Higgins on Sunday said that distrust of her brother’s captors makes her wary of a report his body may have been found.

A partially decomposed body was dumped along a road in Beirut, Lebanon sometime Saturday night. An administrator at American University Hospital, where the body was taken, said it could be that of Higgins. U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker said it was too soon to determine whether it was.

Mary Higgins Fisher, 51, of nearby Okolona said she was upset the State Department didn’t contact her about the body before a Louisville television station called. A State Department official who called later was unable to confirm whether it was Higgins’ body.

Fisher said the State Department had been contacting her regularly until about 10 days ago.

″I don’t think they’ve done enough,″ she said. ″He was a military man and a Marine and I don’t think they did enough to try and find him.″

Higgins commanded a small U.N. observer group monitoring the Lebanon-Israel border when he was abducted Feb. 17, 1988.

His abductors, the Organization of the Oppressed on Earth, released a videotape on July 31, 1989, showing a hanged man they claimed was Higgins.

They said he was killed in retaliation for Israel’s abduction of a Shiite Muslim cleric three days before. U.N. sources in Lebanon have said they believed Higgins actually died of torture in December 1988 after an escape attempt.

Higgins, from Danville, Ky., grew up in Okolona, just south of Louisville.

His sister said she has doubts the remains are those of her brother.

″I have just never believed anything (his kidnappers) have said,″ she said. ″I have always held out that little bit of hope that they wouldn’t do something like that to him.″

Fisher said she hadn’t called Higgins’ wife, Robin, about the report from Beirut. Robin Higgins of New Orleans has an unlisted telephone number.

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