Utah Students Attacked On Humanitarian Trip Say Risks Are Real

Ann McClure's picture

The thing that stood out about the barefoot man who emerged from the jungle to accost Nicole Murray, her best friend Delaina Nielsen and two other Utah college students — aside from the shirt wrapped over his face and the machete he brandished — was how much he talked.

After robbing them and forcing them off the dirt road into the dense woods of Belize, he boasted that he had raped 32 women and intended to make the Utahns victims No. 33 to 36. Failure to comply would get them killed, he said, sticking the blade against one student’s throat to show he was serious.

"I never felt true fear until that moment. It’s a whole other level," said Nielsen, then a student at Salt Lake Community College.

The women had arrived in Belize two days earlier to start a six-week humanitarian trip in July 2011 with Provo-based HELP International, a nonprofit that runs economic-development projects abroad for college-age volunteers.

Read more