I have been following this story since last week, hoping for a better outcome. It is just another example of how dangerous this work can be. Please keep him and his family in your thoughts.
DNA on bloody clothes matches missing US diplomat
BY DAVID MCFADDEN
ASSOCIATED PRESS WRITER
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- The weeklong search for an American diplomat has taken a grim turn as investigators on the Dutch island of Curacao said DNA from bloody clothing strewn along a popular beach matched that of missing man.
Police and prosecutors in this palm-fringed corner of the Caribbean said forensic scientists have confirmed that blood-spattered clothes found on Baya Beach "definitely" belonged to James Hogan, a 49-year-old U.S. vice consul who vanished a week ago. Divers also found his cell phone in the sea.
On Friday, authorities used sniffer dogs to search rocky coastal areas and combed the Caribbean floor with a sonar-equipped robotic device for traces of Hogan. The Curacao prosecutor's office said the Royal Dutch Navy and the U.S. Navy were assisting.
Investigators on the island of 137,000 inhabitants are still trying to trace where Hogan went after leaving his home to go for a walk on the night of Sept. 24.
He and his wife live in Toni Kunchi, a quiet district outside the capital, Willemstad, that is home to wealthy business owners and diplomats.
U.S. State Department records show that Hogan, who arrived in the southern Caribbean island in August 2008 for a two-year assignment, had a legal residence in Florida, but no city or town is listed.
He completed junior foreign service officer training in 2005 and spent two years as a consular officer in Gabarone, Botswana.
State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said at a news briefing Friday in Washington that the agency is "very concerned about the welfare of Mr. Hogan."
"This is obviously upsetting news; it's not conclusive news. But we will continue to stay in close touch with the Netherlands forensic service and with the Curacao police," Kelly said.
Hogan's responsibility includes consular duties for the nearby Dutch island of Aruba, where Alabama teenager Natalee Holloway vanished in May 2005 during a high school graduation trip.
Holloway was last seen leaving a bar in the Aruban capital. No trace of her has been found despite extensive searches involving Aruban soldiers, FBI agents and even Dutch F-16 jets with special equipment.
Some residents in Curacao, a tiny island where the U.S. keeps military planes and personnel, said they were concerned that Hogan's disappearance might put a dark cloud over its vital tourism industry.
"I don't know if it will have a huge impact, but this is definitely not a good thing, obviously," said Angela Vergouwen, a 23-year-old waitress and bartender at the Grand Cafe De Heeren. "Everyone is talking about it."
Curacao, the headquarters of the Netherlands Antilles government, lies just 30 miles off the coast of Venezuela and it is sometimes used as a jumping-off point for drug traffickers.
Associated Press writer Matt Lee in Washington contributed to this report.
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