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Alaskan escapes kidnappers in Mexico

Posted: Tuesday, October 10, 2006

ANCHORAGE - An Anchorage woman kidnapped from a beach home in Mexico escaped by slipping into a dark jungle and walking to a town.

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Tammy Griffin, 46, a regional manager for The Hotel Group, slashed her feet during her flight but was not seriously hurt, her three children said Sunday.

The 5-foot-4, 120-pound Griffin is a grandmother and big game hunter in Alaska. She phoned her children Saturday from Mexico to tell them what happened, they told the Anchorage Daily News. They had not had time to worry - she escaped before they knew she had been kidnapped from a beach home near Zihuatanejo, a popular tourist destination on Mexico's west coast.

She escaped using survival savvy learned from growing up in Alaska and hunting, her family said. She has killed at least one black bear and several moose and deer, her son said.

"She's a survivor. She's tough as hell," said Taylor Tanner, 20, at the family's home in East Anchorage.

Tammy Griffin and her husband, Mike, 52, travel often to Mexico.

The ordeal began Thursday night at about 8 p.m., said Amanda Aguilar, 28, of Eagle River, Griffin's oldest child.

Several kidnappers and perhaps as many as five had robbed a couple in a home near the Griffin's residence. They walked that couple at gunpoint to the Griffin's vacation home, Aguilar said.

Mike Griffin walked outside and the men thrust rifles in his face, ordered him in the house and struck him, Aguilar said. Tammy Griffin was asleep in a bedroom.

Griffin told KTUU-TV that she heard her husband yell that they were being robbed. A gunman ordered her into the living room, pointed a gun at Mike Griffin's head, tied him up and blindfolded him. The men grabbed cash, guns, a laptop computer, a DVD player, tools, cash and other items of value. They said they did not have enough and would take Griffin for ransom, she said.

Leaving a cell phone behind for Mike Griffin to arrange a ransom, they drove off in the Griffin's rental car.

The kidnappers met up with other men, left the car and drove to a remote area in the mountains about 45 minutes away. After walking deeper into the jungle, they gave Tammy Griffin a mat and rested on the jungle floor.

There were as many as seven men in all and they took turns watching her. Her children said she remained submissive but confident, refusing to cry.

"She just did what they asked her to do, which is why they never tied her up," Aguilar said. "They figured a petite redheaded white girl isn't going to run into the jungle."

They did not blindfold her, and Griffin interpreted that as a sign they were planning to kill her.

"She knew running was her best chance of survival," Tanner said.

About 3 a.m., when her guard fell asleep, Tammy quietly walked away, Aguilar said.

In her escape, wearing flip-flop sandals, she crashed through brush and spider webs, stopping to listen often but never hearing pursuers, Aguilar said. She found a creek and followed it, knowing it would flow to the coast and coastal highway.

After the sun came up, she reached a town and walked into a small store. The shop owners gave her a calling card to dial police, Aguilar said

Mike Griffin, who owns Aurora Construction services, was not planning to return to Anchorage for a month. He's building onto the couple's vacation home, Aguilar said. Tammy, who is staying with friends, will stick around for another week to work with the U.S. embassy and local officials to find her abductors.



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