December 29, 2009
Former Hamiltonian D'Arcy Wright is groggy and disoriented, but alive -- found 18 days after he says he was kidnapped at gunpoint in the Dominican Republic.
The rejoicing among family and friends in Hamilton and on the tropical island is in full swing after he was found Sunday in Boca Chica, a resort town near Santo Domingo, about 170 kilometres from his new hometown of Sosua, just east of Puerto Plata. He says he was released two days earlier.
Champagne was popping at Rocky's Rock and Blues Bar in Sosua while in Hamilton, Wright's mother Helen and sister Trish Suzuki were planning a party on his return.
The 46-year-old property manager moved to the Caribbean in October to live his dream of owning a business and living there. He had bought a property management company in Sosua looking after condos.
Wright's brother Todd -- who travelled there from B.C. to search for him -- and two friends found him in a Boca Chica hotel lobby after he contacted them through the Skype online phone and messaging program.
Yesterday, Wright spent the day in Puerto Plata being interviewed by police.
Friends and family believe Wright was kidnapped at gunpoint, drugged and held captive as a result of mistaken identity. He was released on Christmas Day, still drugged and disoriented, they say.
Sunday, as the drugs wore off, he was able to reach friend Marco Beland online, according to another friend, Rick Johnson, an expat from Regina and owner of Rocky's bar.
That same day, Todd was preparing to return home to Burnaby and going through his brother's belongings and making plans should he be found dead.
"I had to prepare for all the outcomes," he said from Sosua yesterday.
In Hamilton, Wright's mother and sister are ecstatic he is alive. They had spent Christmas fearing the worst.
"It's a huge relief," Suzuki said. "We realize this could have been a completely different ending."
Wright's mother, after a tearful phone call with her son Sunday, said he had been through quite an ordeal.
She added "there will be a big party" to celebrate his safe return when he next visits Hamilton.
She doesn't know when that will be, but hopes to see her son soon.
At Rocky's bar, Todd described a "cloak and dagger" Internet communication with Wright to ensure it was him at the other end and to arrange a safe pickup, because anything can happen, he said.
"I asked a question (online) only he would know the answer to, so I had proof it was him."
When they finally found Wright after a four-hour drive to Boca Chica, "We just grabbed each other and hugged and said a lot of expletives," Todd said. "We sat down and had a beer and talked and talked.
"It was a bit of a blur. We were in the moment."
The kidnapping appears to have no motive. Johnson said Wright still had his ring, cash and a debit card on him.
"We're hopeful this is a case of mistaken identity," Suzuki said. "They (the kidnappers) were calling him by another name the whole time. ... He believes they thought he may have been someone else.
"Physically, he seems to be all in one piece. He's obviously been through a horrible ordeal. He's still having some effect from the drugs ... D'Arcy is still trying to piece together what happened to him."
She said it's fitting he was found on Sunday, on their late father's birthday. Their father, Anglican minister Rev. James Charles Wright, died 20 years ago.
Johnson said Wright remembers being home alone and answering a knock at the door while leaving the metal security gate in front of it locked. There were two or three men behind it and a gun was pointed at him.
One of the men told him to open the gate, then struck him on the head and knocked him unconscious, according to Johnson.
The next thing he remembers is waking up beside a road near a sugar cane field and the men yelling at him to get out of the country or they would kill him, Johnson said.
"He's shaken. He's scared. He could use a shave. But we're all happy as hell. It was getting close to three weeks. We thought he was dead."
Besides pouring out the bubbly last night, Johnson is also planning a huge bash at Rocky's on New Year's Eve in Wright's honour.
"Our best buddy is back," he said.
First the Royal Canadian Mountain Police gets involved and arrives to the DR. Now the Dominican Police states "Wright just went to visit a friend and forgot to tell family members"....... sounds highly unlikely!
December 31, 2009
Police in the Dominican Republic have closed the case of a former Hamilton man who says he was drugged and kidnapped.
Puerto Plata police said yesterday the investigation into the disappearance of D'Arcy Wright, 46, was closed because he was located in good health and alive.
"He went to visit a friend at another city and he didn't let his family know that he was doing that," Sergeant Bernaldo Cabrera told a Spanish interpreter hired by The Spectator.
Cabrera said he did not know if Wright was drugged and kidnapped. Police repeatedly hung up on The Spectator during attempts to interview and locate officials.
Cabrera said he did not have any more information about the case when asked if there was something suspicious about the disappearance.
Wright was not available to speak to The Spectator yesterday. But in an interview Tuesday night, Wright said he had been knocked unconscious by armed men at his home Dec. 9 and kidnapped. He said he had been drugged and had no memory of what happened to him for 18 days before being ordered out of a car about 170 kilometres from his hometown.
Wright believes it was a case of mistaken identity because he says his kidnappers called him by an unknown name.
Wright's brother, Todd Wright, who flew to the Dominican Republic to search for his missing sibling, says the police account is totally false.
He stands behind his brother's account of his ordeal.
"That's what happened," Todd said from the Dominican Republic yesterday.
He also said The Spectator had not spoken to the correct investigator in Puerto Plata, but attempts to reach the officer he named were not successful.
"I'm happy I got him back, that's really all that matters," Todd said of the case being closed.
Patricia Suzuki, Wright's sister, said she's not surprised to hear the investigation is closed.
"To them, well, he's fine," she said. "They weren't that interested in following the facts and following any leads that we had to begin with. It was Todd and the others that were doing it, so it doesn't surprise me."
Wright moved to the DR in October after purchasing a property management company.
Todd says he does not believe anything more will be done to his brother, with the notoriety Wright has attained bringing him a measure of protection.
Friend Rick Johnson said if there is credence to the mistaken identity story, he doesn't think Wright has anything more to worry about.
He said he was puzzled as to why Wright's belongings were not taken, but his friend later showed him how his money and bank card had been hidden in his shoe.