"We are heartbroken to share that we've received confirmation that Kayla Jean Mueller has lost her life," said her parents and brother

By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated February 10, 2015 11:00 AM
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Kayla Mueller
| Credit: Matt Hinshaw/The Daily Courier/AP

Kayla Mueller, the 26-year-old American aid worker held hostage by ISIS since August 2013, is dead, her family confirmed in a statement Tuesday.

“We are heartbroken to share that we’ve received confirmation that Kayla Jean Mueller has lost her life,” Mueller’s parents, Carl and Marsha, and brother, Eric, said. “Kayla was a compassionate and devoted humanitarian. She dedicated the whole of her young life to helping those in need of freedom, justice and peace.”

Their statement, and one also released by President Obama mourning the loss of the Arizona native, was delivered four days after ISIS claimed that Mueller had been killed by a coalition airstrike near Raqqa, Syria.

Her parents added, “Our hearts are breaking for our only daughter, but we will continue on in peace, dignity and love for her.”

They also released a note handwritten by Kayla during her 18 months of captivity.

“I have been shown in darkness, light + have learned that even in prison, one can be free. I am grateful. I have come to see that there is good in every situation, sometimes we just have to look for it,” she wrote.

“No matter how long it takes, the United States will find and bring to justice the terrorists who are responsible for Kayla’s captivity and death,” the president, while expressing “deepest condolences” to the Mueller family, said in his statement. He also termed ISIS a “hateful and abhorrent terrorist group.”

Obama further said that Mueller “represents what is best about America, and expressed her deep pride in the freedoms that we Americans enjoy, and that so many others strive for around the world.”

In a brief biographical sketch of their daughter, the Muellers said, “Since graduating from Northern Arizona University in 2009 after only two and a half years, Kayla devoted her career to helping those in need in countries around the world.

“The suffering of the Syrian refugees drew Kayla to the Turkish/Syrian border in December, 2012 to work with Support to Life, the Danish Refugee Council and other humanitarian organizations to assist families who had been forced to flee their homes. Kayla found this work heartbreaking but compelling; she was extremely devoted to the people of Syria.”