As U.S. intelligence officials work to authenticate the ISIS video that purports to show the execution of American journalist James Foley, word is spreading around the tight-knit community of Rochester, New Hampshire, that Foley called home.
"It’s not something you want to hear or believe but it’s true," Lauren Ellis, who went to school with Foley's siblings, said.
Foley had been missing since Nov. 22, 2012, when he was abducted outside an Internet café in Syria while working as a freelance journalist for Boston-based GlobalPost. It was the second time Foley had been taken hostage, after he was released in 2011 after about six weeks in captivity in Libya.
His family had not heard from him directly this time and did not know who took him or why, but family friends tell NECN his mother had recently traveled to Denmark to meet with others who had been taken hostage and let go. They say she was told then that he was alive and doing well.
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The family is too distraught to talk about the video released Tuesday, as a yellow ribbon remains tied to the tree outside their home.
However, his mother, Diane Foley, released a message on the Facebook page Free James Foley:
We have never been prouder of our son Jim. He gave his life trying to expose the world to the suffering of the Syrian people.
We implore the kidnappers to spare the lives of the remaining hostages. Like Jim, they are innocents. They have no control over American government policy in Iraq, Syria or anywhere in the world.
We thank Jim for all the joy he gave us. He was an extraordinary son, brother, journalist and person. Please respect our privacy in the days ahead as we mourn and cherish Jim.
Rochester residents say this news is sickening.
"It’s really an unreal feeling, just hearing the news tonight, my mom and I were both very sad. Like I said, a tough pill to swallow," Ellis said.
Joyce Jacques worked with Foley’s father at Wentworth-Douglass Hospital in Dover. She says she cannot imagine what he and his family are going through.
"Our thoughts and our prayers are with you, anything we can do, say, we’re right here," Jacques said.
Foley's employer, GlobalPost, released a statement saying it appreciates the messages of support and is asking for prayers for Foley and his family.
New Hampshire Governor Maggie Hassan was appalled by the news though; she did speak very highly of Foley.
"A talented and fearless photojournalist, James Foley brought us images that connected us to events across the globe, illuminating stories of both heartache and hope and helping us better understand the world we all share," Hassan said.
New Hampshire's U.S. Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter and U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte each offered up heartfelt condolences to the Foley family.
"His murder was a cowardly act of terrorism and underscores the threat that ISIS poses to the freedoms we hold dear," added U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen on the tragic loss.