Three weeks into the search for an 18-year-old Oklahoma City high school valedictorian who went missing in Ecuador, family members are still seeking clues of his possible whereabouts.
August Reiger disappeared June 16, Father's Day, while vacationing with his family in the resort town of Banos. Authorities now are treating his case as a kidnapping, although his family has yet to receive a ransom request.
“Of course we're frustrated and worried, but I just keep telling myself that it's normal not to have heard anything yet in these situations,” his aunt, Cristi Reiger, said Tuesday. “You rely a lot on your faith.”
The Ecuadorean government recently announced an undisclosed reward for information about Reiger's whereabouts. An elite government anti-kidnapping team and the U.S. Embassy are pursuing leads and conducting a manhunt covering vast regions of the country, Reiger said.
August Reiger's father, Chris, an Oklahoma City architect, and his mother, Randa, an art teacher at Herronville Elementary School in Oklahoma City, have remained in Ecuador, along with their younger son, since the disappearance.
The family was hiking a mountain trail near their hotel in central Ecuador when August ran a few minutes ahead. When the rest of the family reached their meeting point, August was nowhere to be found. Authorities first suspected an accident but thorough searches of the mountain found nothing.
In the days following his disappearance, Ecuadorean authorities told the family someone had reported seeing Reiger in the back of a pickup headed toward the country's Amazon region, but were uncertain of the credibility of the sighting.
The case has drawn international media attention. Family members have appeared on several television programs, including “Nightline” and “Good Morning America.”
A “Find August Reiger” Facebook page provides occasional updates on the case.
Cristi Reiger described her nephew as an extremely bright young man who likes to travel, loves anthropology and looks forward to attending the University of Oklahoma in the fall. He served as the ring bearer at her wedding.
Sunday, Reiger's friends and classmates at Classen School of Advanced Studies, where he was a 2013 valedictorian, held a candlelight vigil for the missing man.
“Part of it is a waiting game for us,” Cristi Reiger said. “Certainly it's frustrating not knowing anything.”