WASHINGTON – Authorities identified the remains of two more U.S. contractors kidnapped in Iraq and are awaiting forensic testing on remains of a third body, the FBI said Thursday.
FBI spokesman Richard Kolko identified the two men as Paul Johnson-Reuben of Minneapolis and Joshua Munns of Redding, Calif. They were among six Western contractors kidnapped in Iraq more than a year ago.
The case received attention earlier this month when the severed fingers of five of the men were sent to the U.S. military in Iraq.
Several relatives had taken the discovery of the fingers as a hopeful sign that the men were still alive, but on Monday the FBI said the remains of Ronald Withrow of Roaring Springs, Texas, and John Roy Young of Kansas City, Mo., had been identified.
"We had held onto hope for 16 months, but now are deeply saddened by the news of Paul's death," Patrick S. Reuben said in a statement Thursday that remembered his twin brother as an "adventurous, fun-loving" former Marine who touched many lives with his big heart and constant smile.
"The waiting has been the most difficult part and we truly appreciate all of the kindness, love and support offered by his many childhood friends, Marine Corps family, distant relatives and acquaintances who have come forward," said Reuben, a Minneapolis police officer.
The other men still missing are Jonathon Cote, of Getzville, N.Y. and Bert Nussbaumer of Vienna, Austria.
Cote's family said on its blog Wednesday night that the body awaiting identification is not Jonathon's.
"The third body has not been identified yet but officials have ruled out that it is NOT Jonathon Cote," the posting said. "We really feel the need to ask for continued prayers. Please remember to pray for Jon's safety and the loss of the other hostages and their families."
Munns' mother had said Tuesday that she lost hope that her son would be found alive after hearing that the remains of Withrow and Young had been identified.
"I think at this point, because they already killed the others, (he) is going to be probably dead as well, that's just a mom's intuition," said Jackie Stewart, a resident of Ridgefield, Wash.
Johnson-Reuben and Munns were guards for Crescent Security Group when men in Iraqi police uniforms ambushed their convoy near the Kuwaiti border on Nov. 16, 2006.