Remains Found In Guatemala May Be Those of Missing American Journalists
GUATEMALA CITY (AP) _ Remains that may belong to an American journalist and an amateur photographer who disappeared in Guatemala seven years ago were sent Wednesday to the United States for identification.
Guatemalan and U.S. officials have insisted the two men were likely killed by guerrillas. But relatives of one of the men said witnesses told them the two were killed by members of the Guatemalan army’s civilian patrols.
Nicholas Blake, 27, of Philadelphia, Pa., and Griffen Davis, a 38-year-old photographer from Scranton, Pa., disappeared in March 1985 while trying to contact leftist guerrillas in a remote mountain region of western Guatemela.
Speaking to reporters Tuesday, Sam Blake, Nicholas Blake’s brother, said that after more than a dozen trips to Guatemala to try to discover his brother’s fate, the family was ″very hopeful″ the remains being sent to the United States Wednesday would prove to belong to Nicholas Blake and Davis.
The remains consist mostly of tiny bone fragments mixed with soil and weeds, according to Sam Blake. Only two teeth have been found so far.
He said they were dug up near an isolated trail in western Guatemala.
The two men were last seen alive in El Llano, a hamlet about 90 miles northwest of Guatemala City accessible only by rough dirt trails. The two men were followed out of the village by members of the Guatemalan army’s civilian patrols and shot, according to witness reports obtained by the Blake family.
For two years after their disappearance, Guatemalan and U.S. officials insisted the two men were likely killed by the guerrillas.
In 1987, however, a schoolteacher came forward and led a team of investigators to a site where the two men were said to have been shot.
No trace of Blake or Davis was found until recently, when a local military official, Felipe Alva, came forward and said the bodies had been moved and burned to conceal the evidence. Alva turned over the remains earlier this week after receiving assurances from the Blake family that no one would be prosecuted, Sam Blake said.
″After seven years, all I really want is to find my brother’s remains and repatriate them,″ Blake said.
The bone fragments will be turned over to Dr. Douglas Owsley, a forensic anthropologist at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., for examination.
The leftist Guatemalan National Revolutionary Union has been fighting a stalemated insurgency for more than three decades.
The rightist-dominated military have been battling them with the help of peasant groups organized into paramilitary civil brigades and rightist death squads.
An estimated 100,000 people, mostly civilians have been killed, many of them kidnapped and shot dead by the death squads. The guerrillas have also been blamed for numerous abductions and killings of government supporters.