'All those years of wondering'

Written by Gordon Rago/The York Daily Record | Oct 13, 2017 8:39 AM


The home of Caitlan coleman's parents in Stewartstown on Thursday. (Photo: Jason Plotkin, York Daily Record)

A family is now enjoying freedom after being held for 5 years by a Taliban-linked terrorist group. Among those held captive: an American woman, her Canadian husband, and their three young children USA TODAY


(Stewartstown) -- Things were quiet Thursday morning in the Stewartstown-area, Pennsylvania, neighborhood where Caitlan Coleman's parents have waited years for news of her release from a Taliban-linked network.

That news broke earlier in the morning, as White House officials confirmed that she, her Canadian husband and three children had been freed. The couple had been captured while traveling in Afghanistan in 2012.

Ken and Karen Nycum, who live across the street from the Colemans, said their children grew up with Caitlan. They said they were happy to hear the news. 

The parents' home sits just outside of Stewartstown, on a quiet road surrounded by farm land in Hopewell Township. 

Thursday's news of the family's release brought reporters from local and national media. The Philadelphia Inquirer had a reporter there. So did the Washington Post. Local TV news vans lined Hollow Road, parking on the grass where her parents live. 

Some cars passing on the street slowed with their windows down, a couple drivers stopping to inquire: why all this attention outside this one house?

At one point, a Pennsylvania State Police trooper drove by, turned around and stopped his car in the road. He wanted to make sure everyone stayed safe if walking in the street.

The Nycums said they've seen the flurries of activity at the Coleman home, where her parents Jim and Lyn live, over the last several years, with occasional TV news crews filling the street. 

They remember Caitlan Coleman playing in the street with their kids and even shooting videos together. Coleman would direct their children in short, theatrical home videos. 

"She was very imaginative," Karen Nycum said. 

"It's surprising," Ken Nycum said of the news. 

They haven't heard much about developments over the last five years.

Karen had hopes of soon being able to see Coleman, despite thoughts of how she would readjust to life outside captivity. 

Plus, the Nycums noted how the parents had not met their grandchildren and had to work through a major diplomacy issue. 

"Gosh, I can't imagine all those years of wondering," Karen Nycum said.  

Friend didn't give up hope

Sarah Flood got a text from her father Thursday morning. He had seen the news: Caitlan Coleman, one of Flood's closest childhood friends, had been freed. 

Flood always told herself this day would come but, hours later, the thought of Caitlan coming home still hadn't sunk in. 

"It's one of those things you keep telling yourself will happen," said Flood, 31, when reached by phone at her home in Maine, "because you need to. You can't give up hope."

Flood said she saw Coleman's mom, Lyn, posted a brief few words on her Facebook page Thursday morning to let people know about the news. The post said how excited the family was and that they are very happy. 

Flood referenced an article in the Toronto Star she had seen that Boyle was able to call his parents in Canada, where he's from. Flood was unsure if Caitlan has been able to do the same. 

"I'm sure it's an incredibly emotional day for them," she said of Coleman's parents. 

She planned to try to get in touch with Coleman's family and thought about what it would be like for her friend to return home. 

"It's going to be a huge readjustment process, I would think," said Flood.

"Crazy world"

As he was getting ready to go into work Thursday from his home in Maryland, James Hedrick was watching the news about Coleman. 

Hedrick owns Taylor Haus Family Restaurant, which sits on South Main Street just outside of Stewartstown. 

The girl who he knew that grew up nearby and had been held in captivity was apparently freed. 

"Holy cow," he recalled saying to himself, "that was all them years ago they took that girl."

He said he didn't know the family personally but remembers reading about her capture. It was only the afternoon when he was reached by the Daily Record, so it wasn't that busy at the restaurant, except for the unusual presence of a TV news crew.

He was happy to hear of Coleman's freedom, acknowledging the dangers not only in the country but when people travel abroad. 

"It's a crazy world nowadays," he said. 


Members of the media gather outside the home of Jim and Lyn Coleman, parents of Caitlan Coleman, on Thursday, Oct. 12, 2017, in Stewartstown, Pa. Caitlan Coleman, her Canadian husband and their three young children have been released after years held captive by a group that has ties to the Taliban and is considered a terrorist organization by the United States, U.S. and Pakistani officials said Thursday. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

This story is part of a partnership between WITF and York Daily Record. 

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