Live

Watch CBSN Live

Missing Air Force Major Found Alive

A U.S. Air Force officer who disappeared earlier this week in Kyrgyzstan was found alive late Friday, reportedly telling people who helped her that she had been kidnapped, Kyrgyz and U.S. officials said.

Maj. Jill Metzger, 33, was located by Kyrgyz law enforcement agents who informed authorities at the U.S. air base at the airport in Bishkek, the Central Asian nation's capital, base spokeswoman Capt. Anna Carpenter said.

Kyrgyz Deputy Interior Minister Omurbek Suvanaliyev said Metzger, 33, knocked on the door of a house on the outskirts of the capital shortly before midnight and told its residents that she had been kidnapped.

Metzger said she had been abducted by three young men and a woman in a minibus and held in a rural area 30 miles from Bishkek, Suvanaliyev told The Associated Press, citing local police in Kant, where he said she approached the first house she came to. He said she looked exhausted and her hair was dyed.

That account differed somewhat from one given by Metzger's father-in-law, Kelly Mayo, who said in a telephone interview with the AP from Colorado Springs, Colo., that Metzger was found on the side of the road with her head shaved.

Maho said she had also been beaten. "I know she's coherent, and whoever had her let her go," said Mayo. "We've got her back. Praise the Lord."

Suvanaliyev said the people who took Metzger in when she knocked on their door called the police.

Mayo said the Air Force's Office of Special Investigations notified the family Friday afternoon but were given few details. He said his son, Air Force Capt. Joshua Mayo, was elated after being told about his wife.

"I can't even describe it. He's just beside himself, just unbelievable joy," Mayo said.

There was no immediately U.S. comment on the kidnapping report. Carpenter declined to discuss Metzger's condition, which a U.S. military statement said will be determined by a medical team.

"We are elated to have Jill back with us," a U.S. military statement quoted the base commander, Col. Scott Reese, as saying.

Kyrgyz authorities notified base officials at 1:15 a.m. local time Saturday of the news, the statement said.

Metzger, a former resident of Henderson, N.C., was serving a four-month stint at the base with the 376th Air Expeditionary Wing. Her normal duty station is Moody Air Force Base in Georgia as a member of the 347th Mission Support Squadron. She had been scheduled to land back at her U.S. base Friday.

The U.S. military has maintained an air base at Kyrgyzstan's main civilian airport since 2001, backing operations in nearby Afghanistan.

Military officials said the newlywed Metzger, dressed in blue jeans and a sweater, vanished during a shopping trip to a tourist hotspot in Bishkek, where she was searching for souvenirs to bring home to her family. The so-called "cultural tours" are common for off-duty personnel.

Jill's husband, Capt. Joshua Mayo, and his father, Kelly Mayo, spoke with CBS News Early Show co-anchor Julie Chen on Friday.

Joshua Mayo said he last spoke with his wife on Monday morning.

"We discussed a few family matters and then we discussed her trip going off the base and about her coming home and all of the things that we were looking forward to doing," Mayo said.

"I just told her to be safe," he said.

Her disappearance had baffled investigators. The military had 22 special agents looking for Metzger.

The shopping center where Metzger disappeared, located about 35 miles from the base, is not a particularly dangerous area, said Col. Kevin Jacobson of the Air Force Office of Special Investigations.

Still, the military had instituted a new policy barring all off-duty personnel from leaving the base until Metzger was found. It was unclear late Friday whether that policy had changed.

Interior Ministry spokesman Nurdin Jangarayev told the AP on Thursday that Metzger and another U.S. servicewoman were recorded on a security camera Tuesday afternoon as they entered TsUM, Bishkek's main department store.

She separated from her companion three minutes later, Jangarayev said. Over the next three hours, two calls were placed to her cellular phone but neither was answered, he said.

Before her disappearance, Metzger had been scheduled to head to Dayton, Ohio, for the annual United States Air Force Marathon. She has twice won the women's division of the event.

A week later, she was to travel with her husband to Jamaica for a belated 10-day honeymoon.

"Jill is a consummate happy-go-lucky person," her father-in-law said. "She doesn't see any kind of evil in the world. She's a wonderful, innocent person, and she would never think anyone would try and harm her."

View CBS News In