WASHINGTON – The Justice Department has launched a criminal investigation into the disappearance of U.S. Air Force Maj. Jill Metzger, who went missing for three days last month in Kyrgyzstan, FOX News has learned.
Federal law enforcement officials told FOX News that Metzger's disappearance is being investigated by the FBI, and the center of the investigation appears to be the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Virginia in Alexandria. At the time of her disappearance, Metzer was newly married and on temporary assignment at a U.S. base in Kyrgyzstan.
Metzger claims that while shopping at the TSUM department store for souvenirs in Bishkek before a scheduled departure from Kyrgyzstan, someone stuffed an object in her jeans pocket with a note saying it was bomb and to go to a site in Bishkek, the capital of the former Soviet state. Kyrgyz authorities said Metzger reported feeling as if she were in a trance as she followed the instructions in the note.
No trace of Metzger was found until three days later, when she knocked on the door of a house in Kant, a town about 22 miles from Bishkek, and told its residents she had been abducted, according to Kyrgyz authorities. She was exhausted, had her hair cut and dyed, was dressed in different clothes and barefoot. She told local police she had escaped from kidnappers.
She apparently told Kyrgyz police she had been abducted by three young men and a woman in a minibus and held in a rural area about 30 miles from the capital.
"This doesn't add up," said one federal law enforcement source who confirmed that the investigation was taking place.
If Metzger had simply gone absent without leave (AWOL), it is presumed she would be prosecuted by the military under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. If she was kidnapped in Bishkek, the investigation likely would be centered there.
The Air Force has been conducting its own investigation into what happened and whether Metzger may have had a hand in her disappearance. Defense officials last month also said her story does not add up.
FOX News' Ian McCaleb and Nick Simeone contributed to this report.