FARGO, North Dakota (AP) – The family of a man shown as a hostage on an insurgent video asked his captors to spare his life as U.S. officials worked to confirm whether the Iraqi group had killed him.
A statement posted on an Islamic militant Web forum claimed the insurgents had killed a kidnapped U.S. security consultant. The statement did not name the hostage or provide evidence. It said pictures of the slaying would be released later.
The U.S. Embassy said it had no information to confirm the claim.
A video issued by the insurgent group, the Islamic Army in Iraq, was broadcast Tuesday on Al-Jazeera showing the hostage, identified as Ronald Schulz, 40, an industrial electrician from Alaska, sitting with his hands tied behind his back.
Family and friends held a news conference Thursday asking for his release.
"This is just our plea to get out there to let them know we want him home," said Schulz”s sister, Julie. "This is our family, reaching out."
His brother, Ed, said the State Department told him Thursday afternoon that his brother might still be alive.
"It”s just been a roller coaster," Julie Schulz said.
A yellow ribbon was tied to the front door of Schulz”s house in Eagle River, Alaska, in a show of support for the former Marine. The foyer light has remained on since Schulz”s apparent abduction was reported.
"Everyone is still kind of holding out hope," said neighbor Sandy Boswell, who tied the ribbon to Schulz”s door on Thursday. Someone else left a bouquet of red and white roses lying on the front stoop.
At a grocery store in Jamestown, Ronald Schulz”s former high school cross country teammate, Richard Hilgemann, said he hoped the report from Iraq was wrong.
"I don”t know what to think right now," said Hilgemann, an assistant store manager. "It creeps into the back of your mind that the prognosis may not be good for him. But you have to hope for the best."
Governor John Hoeven said he had spoken to Schulz”s family but declined to give any details of the conversation.
"At this point we have not received confirmation, through either the State Department or the FBI," Hoeven said. "We continue to pray for Ron Schulz, his family and the other hostages and their families."
The Rev. Doug Opp, pastor of St. John”s Lutheran Church in Jamestown, where Ronald Schulz and his family were members, said a prayer vigil was planned Friday at the church.