OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — An anti-kidnapping team in Ecuador continues to search Amazonian jungles for an Oklahoma City valedictorian who disappeared on Father’s Day, but family members said there’s still no sign of the missing teenager.
August Reiger, 18, disappeared June 16 while hiking with his family in the resort town of Banos. Reiger’s family said the case is being treated as a kidnapping, even though they’ve received no ransom demands.
Reiger had recently graduated as a valedictorian at Classen School of Advanced Studies in Oklahoma City.
“We still have hope we’re going to find him,” said Christi Reiger, August’s aunt. “The authorities down there have been fantastic. They are looking everywhere.”
Christi Reiger said August’s mother likely will return to Oklahoma next month so her younger son can begin high school. Christi Reiger says August’s father will stay in Ecuador as the search continues.
The Oklahoman reported Friday that Americans previously have been kidnapped in Ecuador, but only in the northern regions near the Colombian border. Banos is a resort town in the mountains and a tourism destination considered safe and crime-free.
The family said August disappeared during a family hike on a mountain trail crowded with other tourists. Chris Reiger has said that his son hiked a few minutes ahead of the rest of the family but wasn’t at the spot where they expected to meet him.
Authorities first thought August had fallen from the mountain, but authorities ruled out that possibility after the mountain was searched several times. Family members said authorities have settled on the kidnapping theory because they have no other explanation for where August could be.
Christi Reiger said the search for the missing teenager has been a priority for the Ecuadorean government, with public officials making televised pleas for his safe return.