By People Staff
September 04, 2006 12:00 PM

Steve Centanni is said to be so mild-mannered a reporter that his family thinks of him as a modern-day Clark Kent. “We sometimes didn’t find out that he was on assignment until we saw him on TV,” says Debbie Centanni, 54, who is married to one of Steve’s seven siblings. “That’s how we found out he was in the Middle East.”

But it was a phone call from Fox officials Aug. 14 that gave the family far more disturbing news: Centanni, 60, along with New Zealand-born cameraman Olaf Wiig, 36, had been kidnapped in the Gaza Strip while covering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Witnesses say the two were accosted in Gaza City by gunmen who forced them into a pickup truck and sped off. No one has seen or heard from them since. “Do pray for their release,” wrote Fox News senior vice president John Moody in an internal memo. “I will keep you posted.”

Ominously, there has been nothing to report. Unlike in Iraq, where hostages have been killed or kept for months, most abductions in Palestine have ended within days with no harm to the hostages, who were kidnapped in order to win the release of jailed family members or to settle scores between political factions. But in this case, no group has laid claim to the kidnapping. Says Joel Campagna of the Committee to Protect Journalists: “We simply don’t know who did this or why.”

A San Francisco native, Centanni has had a passion for journalism since childhood. “We used to interview each other as kids,” says his brother Ken, 58. Now he has suddenly become the subject of the news. “We’ll continue to make our pleas,” says his sister-in-law, “but all we can do is wait.”