The 12-year-old stepson of a Utah man who was killed alongside his wife by armed assailants in Mexico witnessed the couple’s execution and tried to hail down passing cars as the bodies of his parents lied beside him on the road.
Paul Nielsen, 48, his 43-year-old wife Janet Vasquez and her son Kevin were on vacation in the Mexican state of Guerrero when they were attacked by gunmen who killed the spouses and left their stepson on the side of the road on July 18.
The boy witnessed everything and is so traumatized by the ordeal that he has only been able to reveal snippets of what happened, according to a statement released by Nielsen’s family.
Vasquez was Nielsen’s second wife but their marriage was not legally recognized because it was faith-based, which meant immigration to the U.S. was not an option.
Nielsen split his time between his wife and family in Salt Lake City and Vasquez and her son Kevin in Mexico.
Paul Nielsen, 48, his 43-year-old wife Janet Vasquez and her son Kevin were on vacation in the Mexican state of Guerrero when they were attacked on July 18. Photo courtesy of ABC4
He was driving to a holiday resort with his wife and stepson on July 18 when three cars started chasing them on the highway, according to the details Kevin shared.
‘They were driving on the highway when three vehicles began chasing them and Kevin said that his mother shouted that they were going to assault them,” Nielsen’s daughter, Priscilla, said in a statement obtained by the New York Post. “Our dad accelerated. Kevin heard shots fired.
According to Priscilla, Nieslen tried to flee but the assailants opened fire and he lost control of his car, causing it to veer off the road.
The couple and the boy were pulled from their car and robbed before being forced into the back of one of the assailant’s cars.
It isn’t clear when Nielsen and his wife were killed but they were driven to another location where their bodies were dumped on the side of the road with the 12-year-old boy.
Kevin had tried to hail down passing cars but no one stopped until police arrived.
While it was initially believed that Kevin had also been shot in the ordeal, Nielsen’s family say he only suffered minor injuries.
‘Kevin is very traumatized, but he was not shot. He is now living with relatives,’ Nielsen’s family said in their statement.
Vasquez was Nielsen’s second wife but their marriage was not legally recognized because it was faith-based. Nielsen split his time between his wife and family in Salt Lake City and Vasquez and her son Kevin in Mexico
The family are not providing any details about Kevin’s whereabouts in Mexico in order to keep him safe.
It is not clear if Nielsen’s family spoke to Kevin or whether the information was relayed through authorities. Nielsen was the only member of both his families who could speak both English and Spanish.
The family said they don’t have much information about the investigation into the deaths but they’ve been told that both the U.S. and Mexican governments are working to find the killers.
Nielsen’s body was returned to Utah last Thursday, while Vasquez was buried by her relatives in Mexico.
‘Our family is absolutely devastated over the loss of our dad. We were very close to him. His family was his world and he wasn’t just our father he was one of our best friends,’ his family said.
Nielsen’s body was returned to Utah last Thursday. A GoFundMe page set up to raise funds for Nielsen’s family has already raised more than $48,000
‘It’s been a very difficult week for us, especially with trying to make the arrangements to have his body returned to us. He finally arrived on Thursday, the 25th, and we are incredibly grateful to have him with us.
‘This has been the most difficult moment of our lives and it’s very important to us that we warn other people so that they don’t have to go through the same thing.
‘The State department has an active travel advisory for certain areas of Mexico, including the state our dad was planning on driving through. Though he was usually a careful person, he must not have seen that advisory, and that ignorance had tragic results that will affect all of us for the rest of our lives.
‘We ask that everyone please, please do your research before traveling, especially in countries that have known instability. If there is any question about the safety of the area you are going, please realize that no vacation is worth your life.’
A GoFundMe page set up to raise funds for Nielsen’s family has already raised more than $48,000. His family say they provided some funds to Vasquez’s relatives to help with funeral costs and will continue to provide help to Kevin.