KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — In mid-September, News 2’s sister station WATE spoke with the family of Matthew Heath, a Marine Corp Veteran who was imprisoned in Venezuela, but now, the family’s prayers have been answered.
“We never lost hope, we’ve always had confidence that we would get Matthew home,” Heath’s aunt, Trudy Rutherford said.
On Saturday, Venezuela freed seven Americans, including the former marine. His aunt said the news came early morning after receiving an email from the Office of the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs, and not too long after, the family spoke with President Joe Biden.
“He confirmed that all of our family members were coming home, and they were heading to San Antonio. They would go there to get a full medical evaluation and go from there,” Rutherford said.
The best update, however, came from Heath himself.
“Matthew called me and his mother and said that he was in the Bahamas at the time and he was getting ready to get on a plane to head to San Antonio, and he asked us if we were going to meet him there.”
Heath was arrested in September of 2020. He was separated from his family for over two years. Now, his family is heading to Texas, a moment they believed was long overdue, but happy the day has finally arrived.
“It was hard to believe. We’ve been hearing, ‘Matthew’s coming home’ several different times, and we got all excited just to be let down that he was not actually on the plane,” Rutherford said. “So when we actually heard, ‘Yes he is on the plane,’ it was like letting air out of a balloon. Just thank God that it’s true this time.”
Heath’s mother shared with WATE that she is thankful to everyone who helped make sure her son could return home.