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Monitoring Wilson Ramos' kidnapping -- UPDATED: VZ police confirm Ramos is still alive

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I wish I could begin this post with a better update but there has been no change in the status in the kidnapping of Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos as it approaches 8:30 a.m. in Washington, D.C. and 9:30 a.m. in Venezuela. 

Everything I know about the situation throughout the day will be updated here. Please follow on twitter @acomak for instant updates and keep Ramos and his family in your thoughts and prayers. 

As of this morning Ramos’ family is still awaiting any contact from the four gunmen who abducted him from his home in Valencia, Venezuela around 7:30 local time on Wednesday evening. For all of the details as they were known last night, please read here.

Any updates today will be posted here with a timestamp.

9:35 a.m. (ET) - Still no change, unfortunately. Ramos’ family is still awaiting word from the kidnappers. Kidnappings happen frequently in Venezuela — the country is believed to have the highest kidnapping rate in the Western Hemisphere — but several sources in Venezuela have told The Washington Times that this length of time with no contact is abnormal. Ramos’ family is somewhat powerless without any contact from the kidnappers. The Venezuelan police are said to be working tirelessly on the case. 

10 a.m. (ET) - The Venezuelan television station Globovision is reporting that the Venezuelan Minister of Interior Justice said the authorities have found the car Wilson Ramos was abducted in. That report has been confirmed via sources to The Washington Times. The police believe they have found the car that Ramos was taken it. It was recovered in Bejuma, a town roughly one hour from Ramos’ home in Valencia. 

10:25 a.m. (ET) - The Venezuelan Professional Baseball League has issued a statement on the kidnapping, that statement, via Viva Colorado reporter Rafael Rojas and translated from Spanish, appears below: 

“La Liga Venezolana de Beisbol Profesional condemns and deplores the kidnapping of (Wilson Ramos), a fact that has shocked the country, especially those who follow Venezuelan baseball.

“We also hope that this event has a favorable outcome for Wilson Ramos and his family and pray to the Almighty for that and call upon the authorities, so strong, to make all necessary inquiries, leading to a solution as quickly as possible.

“We pledge to the Venezuelan society’s call for an ending to kidnappings in our nation. We extend our solidarity to all of Wilson Ramos’ family, his teammates at Tigres, friends and all of Major League Baseball, where this player has had a remarkable performance.”

10:40 a.m. (ET) - The Tigres de Aragua spokeswoman Kathe Vilera has since confirmed the police report that the van used to kidnap Ramos has been recovered in Bejuma, a town about an hour from Ramos’ home in Valencia. Kidnapping units have been dispatched there. The family is still awaiting contact from the kidnappers, however. No progress has been made on that front. 

11:35 a.m. (ET) - There still has been no contact from the kidnappers to Ramos’ family, which is increasingly concerning for the family sources have said. They are doing their best to keep calm but it is difficult as they continue to wait with no word. There are also pleas coming out from Ramos’ Venezuelan Winter League team as well as the league and his family to stop the spread of unconfirmed rumors. All that is known right now is that the car he was believed to have been abducted in has been found, abandoned about an hour from his home, and there has been no contact between the kidnappers and Ramos’ family. 

12 p.m. (ET) - Some good news: The Venezuelan Police have confirmed that Wilson Ramos is still alive. In information released by the Venezuelan government from a briefing this morning, they confirm that they have found the car that was used to abduct Ramos and the fact that he is still alive.

From the official briefing (translated from Spanish):

“We talked to Wilson Ramos’s sister and parents to express our solidarity in these difficult times being experienced and our commitment to responsibly take deep research to find the perpetrators of this terrible crime,” said the minister.

The minister still has not had communication with the perpetrators, “but if we had an important finding in the morning the car was located in the city was abandoned Bejuma, Carabobo state, where it is presumed criminals used it to commit this crime. “

He added that investigations are at the stage where it searches and comes to collect forensic information of interest to deepen the search.

“We are taking the investigation, sparing no effort since last night and we are giving support to the family (of a) young athlete and ground of the Venezuelan youth,” he said.

12:30 p.m. (ET) - The police have also confirmed to El Periodiquito that they now have sketches of two of the kidnappers. 

12:40 p.m. (ET) - The Washington Nationals have released a joint statement with Major League Baseball. The full text of the statement is below:

Our foremost concern is with Wilson Ramos and his family and our thoughts are with them at this time. Major League Baseball’s Department of Investigations is working with the appropriate authorities on this matter. Both Major League Baseball and the Washington Nationals have been instructed to make no further comment.

1:40 p.m. (ET) - The Venezuelan police confirm to Noticias24 that the vehicle used to kidnap Ramos was a 2007 Chevrolet Captiva and had been stolen on Tuesday at 7 p.m. local time in Valencia Forest, an affluent neighborhood in the city.

The Minister of Interior Justice believed that the finding of the car would accelerate the investigation and that the authorities were calling on the best forensic experts in the area to ensure the rescue of Ramos.

Major League Baseball’s Department of Investigations is said to be working directly with Venezuelan authorities on the case and MLB is also said to be discussing security measures with the Venezuelan Winter League about the safety of the remaining MLB players in the league this year. 

2:40 p.m. (ET) - The Venezuelan television station Globovision has released a picture of the car police recovered that is believed to have been used to abduct Ramos on Wednesday night. The car, as I wrote earlier, was reported stolen from an affluent Valencia neighborhood on Tuesday evening. 

3:15 p.m. (ET) - There has been no change in the status of the case, tweets Tigres de Aragua spokeswoman Kathe Vilera. She is at Ramos’ home, continuing to hope and pray with his family. That corroborates the reports I’ve gotten from sources in Venezuela, that the family is simply “waiting by the phone,” for some contact with the kidnappers. 

4:45 p.m. (ET) - Rafael Rojas has posted a picture from inside the stadium in Caribes de Anzoategui that reads: Liberen a Wilson (Free Wilson). Unfortunately there’s not much else to update at this point. 

5:15 p.m. (ET) - The U.S. Embassy in Venezuela has issued this statement to the Washington Times: “We are concerned by the news of Mr. Ramos’ kidnapping and hope the situation is resolved as soon as possible. It is our understanding that Mr. Ramos is not a U.S. citizen. The United States condemns kidnappings of any kind. We have no further information at this time.”

Repeating what I’ve said several times before, the family still, at this hour, nearly 22 hours since Ramos was taken, has not heard anything from the kidnappers. 

The games will apparently be played tonight, though, as lineups for tonight’s game began to be posted a few minutes ago.

6:45 p.m. (ET) - Via Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Barry Enright, the players will be wearing a green ribbon on their uniform sleeves “in honor of our prayers for his safety,” Enright tweeted. Here is a picture of that ribbon.

The games are indeed going on as planned, though sources on the ground in Venezuela have said that the league narrowly avoided a players’ strike earlier today in protest. Jesus Flores, the Nationals catcher, is currently playing and hitting fifth in the lineup for Magallanes. 

7:45 p.m. (ET) - New details emerging from the Venezuelan publication El Universal from the actual abduction. According to the report Ramos was signing an autograph in the street near his house moments before the kidnapping when two trucks passed close by him, his father Abraham, brother David and a cousin. Realizing that they were in danger, the party retreated down the street into Ramos’ house.

The report then says that moments later, at around 7:15 p.m. local time, the kidnappers “burst into the place. This time, two men with their faces uncovered got out of a Chevrolet Captiva 2007, orange. They hanged the player with his arm (loosely translated I believe that means a headlock) and placed a Glock pistol 9mm in his head.”

This is obviously extremely detailed and graphic information of the abduction, the most detailed report to come out of the situation to this point. We will keep you posted with any updates that come from this story.

8 p.m. (ET) - Joe Capozzi, who covers the Marlins for the Palm Beach Post and was in attendance at the teams uniform unveiling and renaming ceremony this evening in Miami, tweeted that Marlins pitcher Anibal Sanchez has cancelled his December plane tickets home to Venezuela in fear of what has happened to Ramos. 

10 p.m. (ET) - Marfa Mata, a close friend of Ramos’ and his family has maintained the status quo at this hour: “We are very thankful for your support and prayers. I wish I could tell you there is new information, but we still don’t know about him.”

For all of the details as we know them at this hour, as well as some perspective on Venezuela, kidnappings and other crime there, and first-person experiences, please read our expansive story from today.

11 p.m. (ET) - CNN’s Rafael Fuenmayor is reporting that FBI sources have told him they are ready and willing to help the Venezuelan government’s search for Wilson Ramos. “FBI sources tell CNN they are ready to collaborate for the kidnapping of player Wilson Ramos,” Fuenmayor tweeted “Venezuelan government has not requested.”

If true, that marks a significant development as far as the operation to find and rescue Ramos is concerned. Earlier today, the U.S. embassy in Caracas told The Washington Times that due to the fact that Ramos was not a U.S. citizen they were unable to comment expansively. 

12 p.m. (ET) - The spokeswoman for Tigres de Aragua, Kathe Vilera says Ramos’ family is trying to remain positive: “More than 24 hours have passed since the kidnapping of Wilson Ramos and (the kidnappers) have not yet contacted the family,” she tweeted. ”We remain positive, expecting good news.”

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About the Author
Amanda Comak

Amanda Comak

Amanda Comak covers the Washington Nationals and comes to The Washington Times from the Cape Cod Times and after stints with MLB.com and the Amsterdam (N.Y.) Recorder. A Massachusetts native and 2008 graduate of Boston University, Amanda can be reached at acomak@washingtontimes.com and you can follow her on Twitter @acomak.

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