How Long Were Gracia & Martin Burnham Held Hostage? 'Captive' Tells Their Horrifying Story
The latest Netflix documentary series, Captive, is going to focus on a different real-life hostage situation for every episode. The first episode of Captive tells the story of Gracia and Martin Burnham. Taken hostage in the Philippines in 2001 by the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), the married couple had a harrowing experience. If you aren't familiar with what happened, Captive will use reenactments and interviews to recreate their story, including explaining how long the Burnhams were held hostage by the extremist Muslim terrorist group ASG.
As documented on Gracia's website, Gracia and Martin were both missionaries in the Philippines through the New Tribes Mission when they were taken hostage. The couple had three children and had been promoting Christianity in the Southeast Asian island nation for 17 years. When they were captured by ASG, Gracia and Martin were actually celebrating their 18th wedding anniversary at the Dos Palmas Island Resort. On May 27, 2001, the ASG captured 20 people from the resort — 16 guests and four staff members — with Gracia and Martin being two of the three Americans who were taken. This incident made international news and in 2012, a Filipino movie named Captive gave a dramatized version of the events surrounding the kidnapping.
As for what happened after the Burnhams and the rest of the people were initially taken hostage, it's not a straightforward timeline of events with some hostages being killed, some hostages escaping, and some hostages being freed by the ASG, according to CNN. The outlet reported that the ASG claimed to have ties to Al-Qaeda after Sept. 11 and the group reportedly captured even more people during this time. The other American, Guillermo Sobero, was killed by the ASG in 2001, but Martin and Gracia were the last of the 20 hostages to still be held alive from the hotel capture. They remained hostages until June 7, 2002.
After being held captive for a year and 11 days, Filipino soldiers trained by U.S. troops went in to rescue the Burnhams and another hostage, Ediborah Yap — a Filipino nurse. While Gracia was rescued, Martin and Yap died in the rescue attempt. Martin died from a gun shot wound and Gracia was injured by a gun shot to her right thigh.
Even though Gracia survived over a year of being held hostage, it was tragic that she lost her husband just as they were getting their freedom. She spoke out about her experience to CNN less than one year after being rescued. Gracia had already published a book about her captivity, In the Presence of My Enemies , and talked about her last moments with her husband, who she saw was dead as she was being rescued. Based on her words and her website, Gracia has dealt with her experience with help from her faith, which was the reason she was in the Philippines in the first place.
Captive explores this story and more in eight episodes, streaming on Netflix now.