LYNCHBURG (WSLS 10) - They spent months captive in the jungle, held by an Islamic terror group. Now a Campbell County mother and son are telling their story to Dateline NBC and WSLS 10.
In Kidnapped in the Philippines: Part 1, Angela Hatcher told us how Gerfa and Kevin Lunsmann were captured. Now here's how they gained their freedom.
When we left off, gunmen had just forced Gerfa Lunsmann to leave her 14-year-old son Kevin behind.
"They put a bag on my head, a black bag," said Gerfa Lunsmann. "So I thought I was going to be killed in the ocean."
It was another night journey to another unfamiliar place. The terrorists told her to get off the boat.
"I said I want to go back. I want to be with my Kevin. We're going to eat dinner," said Gerfa. "I stood there on the bridge as they left into the ocean and disappeared into the dark. I knew right then that I would never see him."
"The locals don't speak my language. It's another dialect so it was difficult for me to ask for help," said Gerfa. "I was speaking different dialects, trying to explain to them. They just looked at me. So I just walk again and start asking for police. Finally one took me to the station."
FBI agents arrived a few hours later and told Gerfa they'd been expecting her. She learned the captors were supposed to free Kevin too.
Gerfa then goes from mother to hostage negotiator, but the terrorists put her on the phone with a man she did not know from her time in the jungle. She can't reason with him.
"I was terrible. I was afraid of what to say and one mistake could hurt Kevin," said Gerfa. "All he wanted was his money. All he wanted was his $10 million."
Not long after freeing his mother, the terrorists let Kevin's cousin go.
"I'm all by myself. There's no one there with me right now I have to think for myself. I have to fend for myself. It's all on me now," said Kevin. "The memories of home, of my father, of my mother and everyone kept me going. They gave me a reason to want to get out and want to go home because these people were waiting for me and I wasn't going to fail them If I were to die trying at least I tried."
The boy's opportunity came one day while washing his clothes. Kevin says his captors had gotten too comfortable, had started to trust him.
"I was looking out and I can see no one walking in the field or in the surrounding area," said Kevin. "It was just a light bulb moment and I realized I was most likely alone there's barely anyone around."
"I had kept a backpack prepared for this moment," said Kevin. "From there, I just ran down the hill and ran into the creek and just kept running."
"An hour or two later I heard sort of like a bird call, like a bird whistle that they do when they're trying to communicate with each other," said Kevin. "As soon as I heard that I knew that they knew I was gone."
They never caught up to Kevin. Later he hears a man call out to him.
"He had a rifle on his back at the time I thought they found me and they're taking me back. I just turned around and kept walking. I just kept walking faster and faster," said Kevin. "He caught up to me and I was able to get a closer look at his gun and it wasn't even a real rifle. He asked off the bat, 'Were you kidnapped?'."
The man got Kevin to the Philippine military. His mother was at a base in Manila.
"I was trying to stay calm as I was talking to Kevin. I know we only have like 30 seconds. It's not a long time because we want him out of the island as fast as possible," said Gerfa. "I wanted to know if they released him or did he escape. He's like 'mom I escaped I did it myself.'"
Kevin learns his cousin is also safe. He's reunited with his mother. After two months apart, he doesn't recognize Gerfa at first.
"Her hair was messed up I could see tears as I got closer and closer," said Kevin. "I was like I know who that is, that's my mother."
"I was checking on his legs his arms to make sure they're all intact nothing is missing," said Gerfa.
An ocean once stood between them, but she'd know her child anywhere.
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