Sunday, August 4, 2013

EXCLUSIVE: Media Gets Facts Wrong in its Coverage of Missing American Aubrey Sacco

Aubrey Sacco - Courtesy of The Sacco Family
The heart-wrenching story of Aubrey Sacco, who's known as "Glitter Girl" because she loves glitter and because of her shining personality, has touched the lives of thousands across the globe. As I reported nearly two years ago for ESPN, Aubrey, an accomplished athlete, scholar and musician, went missing in 2010 while hiking in the remote western tip of Nepal's Langtang National Park. She was 23 at the time. 

Ever since, her younger brother, Morgan Sacco, an honors student and star midfielder on San Diego State University's soccer team, and the rest of the Sacco family and many friends have worked tirelessly to find her or uncover clues to solve this mystery. 

In the last 48 hours, there have been numerous media reports that two men in Nepal have been charged with her murder. But members of Aubrey's family tell me tonight that these reports have not been reported accurately. 

Aubrey's mother, Connie Sacco, tells me that the reports about Aubrey were prematurely leaked to the Nepal media and were inaccurate. Connie confirms that three arrests were made in Nepal, but contrary to what some have written in the last two days, there were no admissions made and no camera or clothing found. The results of the questioning of these suspects were inconclusive. 

Connie told me tonight, "We have posted our 'official' response and up-to-date information from Nepal about the three arrests and the Nepal new articles, about being woken up by Fox News at 5:30 a.m. and contacted by the Colorado Daily Camera before we had ever heard anything official from Nepal. We remain hopeful, but the anxiety and fears we just lived through were horrible."

Also tonight, Aileen Barry, a Sacco family spokeswoman, said, "The Nepal media information turned out to be inaccurate. We are back to square one. Right now, the embassy said the police are still diligently pursuing the investigation."

Scott LacLennan, a friend of the Sacco family who was trekking in the area at the same time Aubrey was there, but on a different trail, tells me that there is a history in Nepal that "urges caution. Years ago, there was a Brit that turned up dead in the same area and the police arrested the boys who found the body. There is pressure on this case due to the other case involving an American who married a Nepali and then allegedly committed suicide. It's entirely possible the police simply want this closed and arrested these people just to close the case."

Aubrey, who graduated from the University of Colorado in 2009 with a double major in art and psychology, was nearing the end of a five-month journey of self-discovery through India, Sri Lanka and Nepal when she disappeared. On this trip she taught yoga, studied meditation and volunteered to teach children in one of the region's poorest schools.

Aubrey had been everywhere from Costa Rica to Greece to Thailand before taking a 45-hour train trip to Katmandu, Nepal, followed by a 10-hour bus trip to Syabrubesi to get to the western tip of the park. 

But she may have made a fatal mistake when she left her laptop and other items at a hotel and headed out on the popular Langtang Trek trail alone. It was the end of the trekking season and very few other backpackers were in the area.

Ever since Aubrey disappeared, her family has been on an impassioned and some might say quixotic quest to find Aubrey. 
Authorities and family members have made several searches of the area. Aubrey's family was back in Nepal as recently as three months ago. 

Tonight, the family urges calm and caution, and of course continues to hope for the best. On Aubrey's Facebook page, the Sacco family writes the following:

Here is the rest of the story. This is our last 48 Hours.

We received a telephone call at 5:20 am from a television network asking, how we felt about the arrests made in connection to Aubrey, as the media had received an AP (Associated Press) message from Nepal. We told them, in our sleeping stupor, that we didn't know what to think as this was the first we had heard. There had not been any official communication from the US Embassy or Nepal Police and we were shocked!

A second call came in from a Colorado Newspaper, this time asking us how we felt about Aubrey's murder!! We immediately got on Facebook and found stories from Nepal newspapers mentioning admissions of murder, master-minding a plan, and as many as five arrests.

Shortly after, we received a call from the US Embassy in Nepal stating there had been a leak to the media about an arrest of 2-3 suspects in connection with Aubrey's DISAPPEARANCE.

We immediately posted on Facebook what we knew thus far and were reluctant to give any statements prior to receiving further information through 'official channels.'

We waited, we asked you to bear with us....

The US Embassy confirmed again that the reports about Aubrey were prematurely leaked to the Nepal Media and were inaccurate. This is what we were afraid might happen as Nepal's media can be very unreliable. Although 3 arrests were made, the rest of the reports were wrong. There were no admissions made and no camera or clothing found. The 3 parties were questioned, but the results were inconclusive. The good news is that the police will continue to diligently pursue the investigation into Aubrey's disappearance. We have a great team in place and that is all we can hope for.

Thank for your support and for following us on this journey. These ups and downs are upsetting, but we continue to have hope that Aubrey is alive. WE LOVE YOU AUBREY, WE CONTINUE TO HAVE HOPE.


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