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For Missing Guards' Kin, An Agonizing Conclusion

That optimism began to recede March 21 -- Good Friday -- when the families were told that two bodies had been recovered. DeBrabander said she was pulling out of her driveway with a friend around 8 p.m. on Easter Sunday when she spotted two well-dressed FBI agents -- a man and a woman -- getting out of a car in front of her house in Lee's Summit, Mo., near Kansas City.

"Oh, Nancy, I know why they're here," DeBrabander, crestfallen, told her friend.

When she returned after taking her friend home, the agents were sitting with her husband, Dennis, Young's stepfather. They told them Young's body had been identified. The DeBrabanders asked how and when he had been killed, but the agents said that was all the information they had. Dennis said the agents told them that "the FBI policy is a need-to-know policy."

Sharon DeBrabander said she demanded three pieces of information: how her son died, when he died and where.

"I said: 'I'm not asking, I'm demanding. Give me answers,' " she said. "I said: 'I don't care what your bosses say, I'm demanding this. I'm his mother. I carried him nine months. You-all didn't.' "

Young, an Army veteran, had worked for more than a decade in his uncle's carpentry business before joining Crescent. He was nearly killed in 2006 in Baghdad when a bullet came through his window and ripped through the collar of his armored vest. He decided to continue working.

"This is me," he told a Washington Post reporter two weeks before his capture. "This is me."

Young's body was identified with that of Ronald J. Withrow, 40, of Roaring Springs, Tex. Withrow had worked for JPI Worldwide, a Las Vegas-based telecommunications company. He was reportedly seized Jan. 5 last year at another checkpoint staged by abductors, also near Basra.

"When they called and said they had identified the remains of Ronald Withrow and John Young, I felt guilty because at the same time I breathed a sigh of relief," said Keri Johnson-Reuben, Paul Reuben's wife. "Then the next sentence out of her mouth, which made me physically sick, was that they've recovered three additional bodies and one that they were still attempting to recover."

Johnson-Reuben said she was barely able to eat for the next three days. "Then Wednesday at 8 p.m., the 26th, they came to my house and they told me, 'They have identified the remains of your loved one, Paul Johnson-Reuben, and the remains of Joshua Munns.' At which point, I fell to my knees and threw up twice -- I had been throwing up since Friday. I was sick to the point where I hadn't eaten or drank anything, and my anxiety attack was so severe a friend took me to the hospital. I spent a couple hours in the ER."

On Saturday, Reuben's twin 17-year-old daughters, Bree and Casey, sat in the Comfort Inn lobby. Bree balanced her new baby on her lap. Casey said that in her last conversation with her father, he'd told her how he had narrowly escaped a car-bombing. His voice was trembling, she said.

"I was like, 'Dad, just quit your job right now, just leave.' And he said, 'No, I have to do one more mission.' And that one more mission cost him his life."

Staff researcher Julie Tate in Washington contributed to this report.


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