HARARE, Zimbabwe — The remains of a young American and two other foreign tourists kidnaped by rebels in 1982 have been found and positively identified, Prime Minister Robert Mugabe announced Thursday.
He told a news conference that pathologists had identified the bodies of Kevin Ellis of Bellevue, Wash.; 24, James Greenwell, 18, of England, and William Butler, 31, of Australia, among six skeletons found last week in troubled Matabeleland province in southwestern Zimbabwe.
Three other foreign tourists also kidnaped at gunpoint July 23, 1982, were Brett Baldwin, 23, of Walnut Creek, Calif., Briton Martyn Hodgson, 35, and Australian Tony Bajzelj, 25. Authorities were unable to confirm that three partial skeletons found last week were those of these three.
Mugabe said that the tourists were seized as political hostages while traveling on a main road and that five of the victims had been shot dead and the sixth strangled three days after they were captured. He said two of the abductors, later captured and sentenced to death, said the captives were slain after they tried to hail a government search helicopter flying overhead.
Mugabe said the kidnapers had demanded that the government release two dissident military commanders in return for the tourists.