Hostage Release Brings New Hope

The release of a hostage in Iraq brings new hope to the family of a California man who was also snatched nearly eight months ago from a Baghdad (search) office where the men worked.

Susan Hallums (search), of Corona, said she screamed with joy when she learned that Filipino accountant Robert Tarongoy (search) had been released this week. She said it gave her new hope that her ex-husband, Roy Hallums, is still alive and may be released soon.

"That was a miracle ... and I hope the next miracle happens," Hallums, 53, said in a telephone interview Thursday.

Roy Hallums, formerly of Newport Beach, is the last remaining hostage among six people who were snatched Nov. 1. A Nepalese and three Iraqis were freed earlier.

Tarongoy said Thursday in Manila that he believes Hallums still is alive. They were working for a Saudi Arabian company that supplies food to the Iraqi army when they were kidnapped.

Susan Hallums and her husband of 30 years divorced a couple of years ago but remained good friends, she said. They have two daughters.

A video released by Hallums' kidnappers in January shows him with a gun pointed to his head, saying he had been taken by a "resistance group" because "I have worked with American forces." His family has sent fliers to Iraq offering a $40,000 reward for information leading to his safe release.

Hallums' family held a candlelight vigil Thursday night — his 57th birthday — in Huntington Beach.

"We want Roy to know, if he would have the opportunity to hear this, that he's missed and loved and prayed for by us constantly," Susan Hallums said. "That has been our mission since day one, to try to help him and get him safely home."

Hallums said her ex-husband sent her an e-mail the day before his capture, telling her he wanted to see the snowy mountains by her house, and that he was sorry to miss seeing his granddaughter dressed up for Halloween.

On June 15, another California resident held hostage in Iraq was freed by Iraqi and U.S. troops who found him during a search of a house in Baghdad. Insurgents had held Douglas Wood, 64, an Australian who lives in Alamo, Calif., for ransom for 47 days.