Russell and Kimberly Call of Moab, the parents of 19-year-old missionary Kamron Call, said they are grateful their son and his mission companion, who is from Texas, were unharmed in the incident, which occurred Feb. 15 in city of Engles, a suburb of Saratov. Kimberly Call said she spoke with her son on the phone Sunday, and he reassured her that he was fine. Local police and U.S. Embassy officials are investigating the incident.
After the story broke Sunday, it was reported by KSL-TV News, The Deseret News, and other media. However, Kimberly Call said Wednesday morning that they have been asked not to share any further information with the media, citing local privacy laws and safety concerns.
“We’ve taken down any of our family’s Facebook posts about it, and won’t be sharing any more details publicly, at the church’s request,” Kimberly Call said, adding that the decision is largely based “out of courtesy to the good people where he is serving.”
She added that she is confident that authorities are doing everything they can to ensure the missionaries’ safety. “The Russian police are doing an excellent job handling the situation,” she said.
According to previously published reports, the missionaries were visiting the apartment of a man and his wife, in order to teach a religious discussion. The man reportedly became agitated and pulled a knife on the missionaries, taking their phones, a small amount of cash, and other belongings. The missionaries reported hearing the man and his wife talk about how much the items were worth. At one point, the missionaries said they even overheard the woman on the phone asking for help in killing them and disposing of their bodies.
“They just prayed so hard the whole time, and the thing they were inspired to do, was to remain calm,” Kimberly Call said.
Eventually, the man walked with the missionaries to an ATM machine, where they withdrew more money and gave it to the man, reports said. At that point, the missionaries reported, the man calmed down and gave them some of their money back, and the man left the area. Later that same evening, after they made their way to a scheduled baptism service, the missionaries reported the incident to their mission president, who then notified the police and embassy authorities.
Call’s companion was identified in an LDS Church statement as Elder Jeffrey Alan Owen of Coppell, Texas. They are serving in the Russia Samara Mission, one of seven LDS missions in Russia.
The two missionaries were kept under watch in their apartment for their protection while police searched for the suspect. Kimberly Call said Wednesday morning that the family has not heard whether an arrest was made, nor of any additional details related to the case.
“The main thing is that he’s safe and in good hands, doing the Lord’s work,” Russell Call added.
The Feb. 15 robbery bears some similarity to a 1998 incident in which two Mormon missionaries were kidnapped and held for ransom in Saratov, Russia. However, officials and family members said there appears to be no connection. Travis Tuttle and Andrew Propst were kidnapped in 1998 while serving an LDS mission in Saratov. They were held for ransom, but the kidnappers eventually released them unharmed. The assailants were captured and imprisoned. The 1998 incident was the subject of the 2013 film “The Saratov Approach.”
Kamron Call, who graduated from Grand County High School in 2013 and was the class salutatorian, is the ninth of 12 children in the Call family. His seven older brothers have all served full-time LDS missions to foreign countries, including Garrison Call, who is currently serving in Mexico.