A 71-year-old Seattle missionary abducted last month from a school in Nigeria has been released and is safe, the Free Methodist Church USA said Friday.
In a statement on the church website, Bishop David Kendall said the Rev. Phyllis Sortor was released Friday evening, Nigeria time, “into the care of authorities and Free Methodist Church leaders.”
Armed men abducted her Feb. 23 from the Hope Academy compound in Emiworo, Kogi state.
“We are deeply grateful to all who prayed for Phyllis’ safe return and praise God the family representative was able to secure her release,” Kendall said in his statement.
Between 2002 and 2004, Sortor was a teacher at Tacoma’s Sheridan Elementary School. Sortor’s former colleagues in Tacoma remembered her as a dedicated teacher with a deep compassion for children.
Kendall provided no details about how her Friday release was arranged.
“As a matter of sound policy, and to help protect the many, many people who helped secure Phyllis’ freedom, we will have no comment concerning the efforts that were undertaken to secure her release,” the bishop said.
Kogi State police said shortly after the abduction that the men who took Sortor had demanded a ransom of nearly $300,000. That demand was reportedly later reduced by half.
Police said they were collaborating with security forces to secure her return.
Friends described Sortor as courageous, tenacious and passionate about helping the people of Nigeria and said she was aware of the dangers.