updated 3/25/2008 5:42:58 PM ET 2008-03-25T21:42:58

Authorities awaited identification of the remains of three bodies in Iraq, a U.S. law enforcement official said Tuesday, a day after the remains of two kidnapped contractors were identified.

Also in Baghdad, an American financial analyst working for the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad died of his wounds from an Easter Day rocket attack against the heavily fortified Green Zone, a spokeswoman said.

Paul Converse, 56, was hit when rockets fired by suspected Shiite militia fighters rained down on the U.S.-protected area in central Baghdad Sunday.

His parents, Dick and Leona Converse of Corvallis, Ore., told the Gazette-Times newspaper they learned Sunday that their son had been wounded and likely wouldn't survive. On Monday, two officers from the Oregon Army National Guard arrived at their door to inform them of his death.

Contractors' families now await news
Of those kidnapped in Iraq, four Western contractors have been missing for more than a year. The disappearances received new attention this month when the severed fingers of several men were sent to the U.S. military in Iraq.

Several relatives had taken the discovery of the severed fingers as a hopeful sign but hopes dimmed Monday when the FBI said the remains of Ronald Withrow and John Roy Young had been identified.

A U.S. law enforcement official, speaking on condition of anonymity because the identification process is ongoing, confirmed that three other bodies are awaiting testing.

The other men still missing are Jonathon Cote, Paul Reuben, Joshua Munns and Bert Nussbaumer. A finger from each was received by the military recently.

Munns' mother says she has lost hope that her son is alive after hearing from the FBI that the remains of Withrow and Young had been identified.

"I think at this point, because they already killed the others, (he) is going to be probably dead as well, that's just a mom's intuition," said Jackie Stewart.

Stewart, 45, hopes some good can come out of the story of her son's ordeal. "I was never seeking media attention, but if (it helps) somebody else get their kids back, and get this war over with," she said she would gladly "stand in the limelight."

'Praying for everyone involved'
Cote's father, Francis, said he has not given up hope but expressed anger at the death of Young, one of his son's colleagues.

"I just don't understand how that can take place. I just don't have that kind of hatred in my heart," Cote said.

Reuben's family, too, is hoping for the best.

"We're still just praying for everyone involved," said Patrick Reuben, the missing contractor's twin brother.

Patrick Reuben's wife, Jennifer Reuben, added that there are many hostages, and the three additional bodies could be the remains of any of those who have been captured.

She said even if the bodies end up being the remains of the contractors, the fate of a sixth contractor is still unknown.

"This is just really terrible," she said.

The family will hold out hope for Reuben until they learn otherwise, Jennifer Reuben said.

"How can you not?" she said.

American analyst's death confirmed
The report of the U.S. analyst's death was confirmed Tuesday by U.S. Embassy spokesman Mirembe Nantongo.

The U.S. military blamed Iranian-backed factions for a spate of rocket attacks that struck the Green Zone and surrounding areas on Sunday. Another volley slammed into the area on Tuesday, but Nantongo said no deaths or major casualties were reported.

The attacks underscored the fragility of Iraq's security, despite a decline in violence over the past year.

Converse was a financial analyst who audited contracts in Iraq, said Kristine Belisle, a spokeswoman for the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, part of the U.S. Department of Defense.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Discussion comments


Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments