clearn.png
Tuesday April 23rd, 2019 2:40AM

Mother of Utah man freed from Venezuela jail last year dies

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Laurie Holt, a Utah woman who struggled for nearly two years to get her son freed from a Venezuelan jail, died on Sunday. She was 50 and died less than a year after her son returned to the U.S.

Holt died unexpectedly at her home in the Salt Lake City suburb of Riverton, former U.S. Rep. Mia Love said Monday. Laurie Holt's husband Jason Holt went to wake her for church at about 11 a.m. and found her unresponsive, Love said.

The cause of death is unknown and Holt had no known illnesses, said Love, who became Holt's friend while working with other politicians to help win freedom for Josh Holt.

He returned to the U.S. with his Venezuelan wife, Thamara Caleno, in May 2018 after he was imprisoned in June 2016 on weapons charges that the Holts and U.S. politicians said were invented.

Holt went to the South American country in June 2016 to marry Caleno, who he met online while looking for a Spanish-speaking Mormons to help him improve his Spanish.

He had planned to spend several months in Caracas with his new wife and her two daughters to secure their visas so they could move with him to the U.S.

Instead, the couple was arrested and accused of stockpiling weapons. Venezuelan authorities suggested the case was linked to unspecified U.S. attempts to undermine President Nicolas Maduro's rule amid deep economic and political turbulence.

Laurie Holt vehemently denied the accusations on her son's behalf and raised awareness about her son's incarceration by hosting rallies and fundraisers and doing media interviews.

Holt and Caleno were held in a notorious Caracas prison and Laurie Holt said her son suffered numerous health problems in jail, including kidney stones and respiratory problems.

Their release came after secret backchannel talks between an aide to Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and close allies of Maduro.

President Donald Trump hosted the Holts at the White House to commemorate the release. U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch on Sunday retweeted a video taken that day in his office of the moment when Laurie Holt first saw her son again, leading to a long and tearful hug.

Laurie Holt is survived by her husband and four adult children.

"We are devastated to announce the tragic passing of our sweet Mama Bear Laurie Holt this morning," the family said in a statement on her Facebook page. "She had a gigantic heart and we will miss her dearly."

Love said Josh Holt's imprisonment took a major emotional and financial toll on the family, leaving Jason Holt with debts to lawyers they hired to try to win Josh Holt's freedom. Love has launched an online fundraising drive to help raise funds for the funeral.

Love said Laurie Holt was relieved and happy to have her entire family back together, and was very excited about the August due date for Josh Holt and Thamara Caleno's baby.

"It's sad to me that she really only had a few more months with her family and her son," Love said. "She's going to be missed dearly."

  • Associated Categories: U.S. News, Associated Press (AP), AP National News, Top U.S. News short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News
© Copyright 2019 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Mother of Utah man freed from Venezuela jail last year dies
A Utah woman who spent nearly two years pushing to get her son freed from a Venezuelan jail has died at age 50. Former U.S. Rep. Mia Love said Monday that Laurie Holt died unexpectedly Sunday at her home in the Salt Lake City suburb of Riverton
5:29PM ( 10 minutes ago )
Snow slams Northwest again and even Hawaii gets some
Schools are closed across Washington state and the Legislature has cancelled all hearings as snow and ice storms pummeled the Northwest again in the snowiest single month in more than 30 years
5:25PM ( 14 minutes ago )
Prosecutors seek new sentence in Laquan McDonald case
Prosecutors on Monday asked Illinois' highest court to review the less than seven year prison sentence for the white Chicago police officer who was in the shooting death of black teenager Laquan McDonald
5:17PM ( 21 minutes ago )
U.S. News
Rep. Omar apologizes for tweets on AIPAC's influence
Freshman Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar "unequivocally" apologizes for tweets about the influence in Congress of an American organization that supports Israel
5:28PM ( 11 minutes ago )
Trump calls for investment in artificial intelligence
President Donald Trump has signed an executive order directing federal agencies to prioritize research and development in the field of artificial intelligence
5:18PM ( 21 minutes ago )
Bezos probe concludes mistress' brother was Enquirer source
Private investigators working for Jeff Bezos have determined the brother of the Amazon CEO's mistress leaked the couple's intimate text messages to the National Enquirer
5:16PM ( 22 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
The Latest: Staff members resign after Fairfax allegations
Embattled Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax has lost several staff members after two women accused him of sexual assault and much of the state's political establishment called for him to resign
4:36PM ( 1 hour ago )
The Latest: Trump raps Dems' demands in border negotiations
President Donald Trump is assailing Democrats over faltering border security negotiations
4:20PM ( 1 hour ago )
The Latest: Trump campaign issues new video calling for wall
Ahead of a campaign rally in El Paso, Texas, President Donald Trump's campaign has issued a new video calling for a border wall
3:51PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
US warns Hungary, other allies to shun business with Huawei
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says that America might be forced to scale back certain operations in Europe and elsewhere if countries continue to do business with the Chinese telecommunications company Huawei
2:36PM ( 3 hours ago )
The Latest: Letter calls on Northam to fight systemic racism
Black leaders from around Virginia are spelling out how they want the state's embattled governor and attorney general to fight systemic racism
2:31PM ( 3 hours ago )
The Latest: Black leaders say they forgive Northam
Some black clergy and community leaders say they forgive Gov. Ralph Northam for wearing blackface three decades ago and want to give him a second chance
1:59PM ( 3 hours ago )
AP Online Congress News
Snow slams Northwest again and even Hawaii gets some
Schools are closed across Washington state and the Legislature has cancelled all hearings as snow and ice storms pummeled the Northwest again in the snowiest single month in more than 30 years
5:25PM ( 14 minutes ago )
Prosecutors seek new sentence in Laquan McDonald case
Prosecutors on Monday asked Illinois' highest court to review the less than seven year prison sentence for the white Chicago police officer who was in the shooting death of black teenager Laquan McDonald
5:17PM ( 21 minutes ago )
Separated migrant families demand millions from US agencies
Lawyers for eight immigrant families separated under Trump administration policy have filed claims with the U.S. government demanding $6 million each in damages for what they described as lasting trauma
5:17PM ( 22 minutes ago )
Woman begins jail sentence for texting suicide conviction
A woman who sent her suicidal boyfriend a barrage of text messages urging him to kill himself has been taken into custody to begin serving her sentence nearly five years after he died in a truck filled with toxic gas
5:01PM ( 38 minutes ago )
Clamor for ouster of top Democrats slows in Virginia
After clamoring for days for resignations or impeachment, Virginia Democratic political and community leaders are having second thoughts
4:50PM ( 49 minutes ago )