Search for Denise Thiem Continues: Parents Seek Help from Obama and Rajoy

Peregrina desaparecida, Denise Thiem. Imagen de

It has been 129 days since Denise Thiem, a 41-year-old U.S. citizen from Arizona, is reported to be missing on Camino de Santiago. Like many American pilgrims, Denise was also inspired by the movie The Way to embark on this famous hiking trail to Santiago de Compostela. She was last seen at an Alberque de San Javier near Astorga on April 4, 2015 and at breakfast and mass with Giorgio Candoni, a fellow Italian pilgrim, on April 5. Nobody has seen her since then, but efforts to search for Denise have never stopped.

Cedric Thiem's Search

Disappointed by the information provided by the Spanish National Police (SNP), Denise's brother Cedric decided to fly to Spain himself to search for his missing sister. He arrived in Madrid on April 20 and reported a missing case to the local police immediately. He then walked the trail backwards hoping that Denise might still be on the trail. However, he soon decided to go to Astorga to search for his sister from where she disappeared. Unfortunately, this two-week long search ended without any luck.

Desperate Parents, “President Obama, Prime Minister Rajoy, We Need Your Help”

Desperate, Denise's parents wrote a letter to President Obama on July 28, seeking aid to search for their missing daughter. The parents are disappointed with the reactions of the U.S. Embassy in Spain and believe that “the Ambassador and Consul General apparently wish to avoid responsibility” by advising that Denise is the responsibility of the Spanish government. “Thus, we feel that our own government has abandoned our daughter.” Deeply frustrated, they request immediate intervention of President Obama to seize any opportunity possible to find Denise alive.

The parents wrote to Prime Minister Rajoy on the same day, requesting the Minister of the Interior to communicate with them directly with more reports and updates of their missing daughter.

“We do not know if the absence of information from the Spanish National Police means the police do not know anything, if it is reluctant to share information in order to avoid jeopardizing an investigation that may be close to fruition, or if it simply does not know how to communicate information suggesting our daughter is not alive. Regardless, and given the reality that Denise is our child, we implore you to direct the Minister of the Interior to communicate directly with us.”

Disappointed with the response of the U.S. Embassy in Spain, Denise's parents view the help from the Spanish government as their “remaining source of support and understanding”.

John McCain: Intervention of the FBI is Necessary

The Thiem's family has been seeking help from John McCain, Senator of Arizona. McCain's office has reached out to the U.S. Ambassador of Spain James Costos multiple times. On August 3, Senator John McCain issued a letter to Prime Minister Miariano Rajoy, urging the Prime Minister to request immediate assistance from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to help locate the missing U.S. citizen abroad.

In the letter, Senator McCain states that the resources and manpower devoted to the search by the Spanish government are fully recognized. However, taking into consideration that “recent media reports suggest that a crime may have been committed against Ms. Thiem and that the investigation has been elevated to a homicide division within the Spanish National Police”. In this case, Senator McCain suggests that the FBI's direct participation be warranted and should be combined with a more robust response by the United States.