An American missionary was kidnapped by Russian forces in a southern Ukrainian city, his family members confirmed. He was kidnapped from Mariupol. Helen Bodyu, who is in Melitopol, said that she and her family watched as her husband, Dmitry Bodyu, 50, was kidnapped by eight to 10 troops on Saturday.
She also said that said soldiers came into their home last week and took cell phones, computers, and documents along with them. The Bodyu family has not heard from him since he was taken, Helen and her daughter, Esther Bodyu-Ogawa, said. However, the troops were non-aggressive while taking Bodyu, they said.
No Specific Reason
There is no news on why Bodyu was kidnapped. His family is in trauma as they know nothing about his whereabouts.
Speaking to NBC News over phone from Melitopol, Helen said that the troops didn't give any reason behind taking Dmitry. Although he was kidnapped last week, word of his kidnapping took days to become public because the city was captured by Russia and the troops confiscated the family's cellphones and other devices.
"They just came in in the morning," Helen Bodyu said. "They took our phones, gadgets, computers, documents â and took him somewhere. I don't know where," Helen told the outlet.
She claimed that the Russian military were not hostile, and that she couldn't hear what they were saying while waiting in the living room while they spoke with her husband in the kitchen.
She went on to say that the Russian troops appeared to recognize him as a pastor and confiscated his American passport.
Russian Atrocities Continue
Before entering, the army vaulted a wall around their home, according to Bodyu-Ogawa. "They walked in and they just started kind of questioning him right away, like, 'Are you guys American citizens?' â that's kind of, like, one of the first questions they had," she said.
The troops looked through Dmitry Bodyu's social media postings before they took him, she said.
Dmitry Bodyu was born in the Soviet Union and went to the United States with his parents when he was 17, according to his wife, before returning to Ukraine later in life. Dmitry then left Crimea after the Russian annexation in 2014 because of his American citizenship.
After leaving Crimea, he relocated to Melitopol, Ukraine, just over the de facto border, Bodyu-Ogawa said. He is the pastor of Melitopol's Word of Life Church, where he urged citizens to seek refuge soon after the Russian invasion.
"All he's doing is just helping such a huge amount of people that were hiding in the church, which was, like, over 50 people," she said Thursday morning. "And he was feeding all of them, too, throughout this whole situation."
She and her family have their own thoughts about why their father was kidnapped. She speculated that it could be due to their family's restaurant interests in the area.
Melitopol was overrun by Russian forces quickly after they advanced from bases in Russian-controlled Crimea in their invasion of Ukraine. Bodyu-Ogawa, who is 30 and lives in Hawaii, said she is "shocked" that her father was targeted.