Update: Jean and Scott Adam were fatally shot on their boat by pirates, authorities said today -- even as U.S. Navy ships trailed the vessel. Two pirates were then killed and 13 were captured, according to reports. Phyllis Macay and Bob Riggle, fellow voyagers from Seattle, were also killed.
Jean and Scott Adam, two outdoorsy Orange County missionaries who belong to Saint Monica Catholic Church in Santa Monica and the Del Rey Yacht Club in Marina Del Rey, decided in 2001 to take the Holy Word to the open seas, sailing to foreign lands on their custom-built "S/V Quest" and handing out Bibles to the natives.
But on February 18, their mission took a turn into darkness. An adventurous detour through the Indian Ocean led the SoCal couple (and their passengers, Seattle couple Phyllis Macay and Bob Riggle) straight into skull-and-crossbones territory:
"Djibouti is a big refueling stop. I have NO idea what will happen in these ports, but perhaps we'll do some local touring. Due north is the Red Sea where we plan to tuck in when winds turn to the north."
Today, however, the hijackers have kidnapped the pair -- though they're being closely followed by the U.S. Navy. From the New York Daily News:
A Navy warship with a helicopter aboard was trailing the vessel as it cruised toward the northern Somali pirate stronghold of Puntland, two pirates and a Somali government official told The Associated Press.
A senior government official with knowledge of the incident also told CNN that a Navy ship was monitoring the vessel.
The Adams may be paying for the recent U.S. Federal court sentencing of Somali pirate Abduwali Abukhadir Muse, who was handed 34 years in prison just two days before the O.C. couple was targeted. The Associated Press guesses at a motive, and hints at the possible horrors to which the Adams could be subjected:
Earlier this week a Somali pirate told an Associated Press reporter in Somalia that pirates would target Americans in retaliation for the sentencing. The pirate, who identified himself by the name Hassan, said Americans would suffer "regrettable consequences."
Pirates have recently tied hostages upside down and dragged them in the sea, locked them in freezers, beaten them and used plastic ties around their genitals, the commander of the European Union anti-piracy force, Maj. Gen. Buster Howes told AP this month.
And the Adams are not alone. CNN reports that "some 685 sailors are currently being held for ransom aboard 30 ships off the Somali coastline, according to the International Maritime Organization."
On the Adams' website, where their GPS tracker is apparently not functioning (freaky), Jean explains one of their reasons for sailing the world: "Anytime we have workers on the boat or come into the dock and have an opportunity to talk to people we find more homes for our Bibles."
She also describes the arduous ordeal of unloading the holy books from the yacht, even after the "strained" fiasco of "getting those Bibles onto the boat as low as possible and without interfering with the function of a yacht at sea":
These Bibles have been "found" and lifted from underneath the floorboards. Then they have to be lifted into the cockpit and from there over the side and into the dinghy. Then, these cases have to be lifted out of the dinghy onto the dock, then to the driveway and into the taxi. Of course, when we get to our destinations we lift them once again into the office. This makes for a sore back in the short run and a stronger body in the long run.
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The Santa Monica church to which the Adams belong -- a celeb-heavy Catholic hotspot whose members include Martin Sheen and Brooke Shields -- is pulling for their safe release from captivity. From CBN News:
Meanwhile, the couple's fellow church members from St. Monica's Catholic Church in California have been praying for the hostages' release.
"That's our hope today, that these great people who are taking this Holy Word and giving it to so many people across this world, that they will somehow return and find safety and come back home," their pastor, Lloyd Torgerson said.
Until then, stay tuned for updates.
First posted at 1:30 p.m. Monday. The headline and some original writing has been altered.