There’s a book out today I heartily recommend. In 2006 the American Eric Volz was living in Nicaragua and was falsely accused of brutally murdering his ex-girlfriend Doris Jimenez. At the time, I was consulting on Eric’s exciting new bi-lingual magazine project, El Puente (The Bridge). Eric had become a young leader in Nicaragua, even attracting the warm attention of high-ranking government officials for the good work he was doing in the country.
But in the wake of the re-election of the former Sandinista President Daniel Ortega, Eric’s life quickly turned to a nightmare during Thanksgiving week, 2006 after he was arrested for Doris’ murder. I had a role in the year-plus journey inside the Nicaraguan justice system that was to come; it turns out I was a key part of Eric’s alibi due to the fact we were literally instant messaging when the murder took place. I, along with 10 eyewitnesses, placed Eric Volz over 2 hours by car from the scene of the murder at the time it took place.
Yet, he was charged, tried and convicted. I was the first defense witness called in that sham of a trial. I had flown back to Nicaragua at great personal risk (a violent mob had attempted to kill Eric after his arraignment) to testify. Yet his attorney never even spoke to me before putting me on the stand. It was nearly a year later, after a press conference in which U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice made mention of our government’s expectation of his release, that it was finally granted.
But all was not as it seemed. While it had become apparent that Eric’s case had become a tool for geopolitical leverage for the new Nica government with respect to their relations with the U.S., the true story of Eric’s conviction and eventual release hasn’t been told until today. It’s a tale you’ll hardly believe; filled with intrigue, violence, sex, a heroic former CIA agent, Soviet MiG’s, and a staredown with the U.S. State Department.
Full disclosure: I’ve done some work for Eric, designing the accompanying website for the book. But if you like international geopolitical thrillers, you’ll want to read Gringo Nightmare. Eric is telling his true story and it’s one you’ll almost certainly see on the big screen. The book is unique—Eric captured content throughout his ordeal (I even helped at various points). As you read the book, you’ll be prompted with superscript notes to head to the Gringo Nightmare website to see an Exhibit Hall filled with over 50 legal exhibits, 250+ photos, videos, court documents and other items that take you inside Eric’s story in a way no book ever has.
The story has been covered countless times by international media and serves as a cautionary tale for Americans living abroad.
Eric now works for justice and yesterday asked the Nicaraguan government to re-open the Doris Jimenez murder case. The story isn’t finished yet but what Eric is telling today in Gringo Nightmare is enough to curl your hair.
Nick Purdy is the publisher of Paste.