WASHINGTON – The investigation into the case of a U.S. servicewoman who reappeared as mysteriously as she vanished will continue, a senior defense official said Tuesday, adding that something about her story didn't add up.
Air Force Maj. Jill Metzger, 33, vanished from a shopping mall in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, on Sept. 5. She resurfaced three days later when she knocked on the door of a house in Kant, about 22 outside Bishkek, and claimed she had been kidnapped.
Kyrgyz police said Monday that Metzger, who was serving a tour at the U.S. military base in Manas, gave confused accounts about her absence and refused to make further statements after consulting with the U.S. Embassy.
Metzger was flown out of Kyrgyzstan within a few hours of her reappearance and was admitted Sunday to a U.S. military hospital in Landstuhl, Germany. She was listed in good condition; officials had previously said she did not appear to have suffered serious injury during her disappearance.
The military said Metzger would be debriefed by a team of specialists and receive a medical checkup, but there was no immediate word on how long she would remain hospitalized.
Kyrgyz authorities have said her swift departure could impede their investigation, because they wanted to question her further. According to investigators, Metzger said an object with a note saying it was a bomb was placed in her pocket in a Bishkek department store and that she was kidnapped after following the note's instructions on where to go.
"It seemed to me that her testimony was little believable; she was confused in her evidence," Batmirza Dzhailobayev, head of the Kant police department, told The Associated Press.
"After she spoke with somebody from the embassy, she categorically refused to give testimony. Then people from the U.S. Embassy took her away," he said.
Dzhailobayev noted that although Metzger had told police that her abductors had stolen her necklace, she was still wearing an expensive-looking wedding ring.
Also Monday, a resident of the house where Metzger appeared said that the major was clearly in distress.
"Our first impression was that the woman was severely drunk ... (but) there was no smell of alcohol and we then understood that she was in shock," Svetlana Ivashenko told the AP. She said that Metzger was dressed in clothes that appeared to be several sizes too large for her.
Ivashenko said Metzger spoke only in English, which neither she nor her husband understand, so they awoke their daughter to try to help understand.
"Who had seized her, why and where they had held her all this time, she couldn't clarify," Ivashenko said. "As she told all this, she didn't weep — she just sobbed and held her head."
Ivashenko said there was blood on Metzger's feet and that she said she had walked a considerable distance. She also said the right side of Metzger's face appeared to be badly bruised, although Dzhailobayev said "it was my impression that there were no bruises on her face."
Metzger was serving a four-month stint with the 376th Air Expeditionary Wing at Manas, where the U.S. military has maintained a base since 2001 to support operations in nearby Afghanistan. She had been scheduled to return Friday to her regular post at Moody Air Force Base, Ga.
Metzger phoned her parents in Henderson, N.C., early Saturday to let them know she was safe, The News & Observer newspaper of Raleigh reported. Her parents said the call left questions about her disappearance, and they still did not know why she vanished, where she was during her ordeal, or how she got back.
"She kept saying, "I'm fine, I'm OK, I'm OK," her mother, Jeanette Metzger, told the newspaper.
John Metzger, a retired Air Force colonel, said his daughter seemed to be in shock.
"Her tone of voice at the beginning was kind of distant, I would say, and then all of a sudden, I heard the old Jill come back," he said.
Metzger was married to Air Force Capt. Joshua Mayo on April 8 and she was deployed 10 days later. The couple had been set to leave Sept. 24 for a delayed honeymoon, her father said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.