Stepdaughter of Riverton man imprisoned in Venezuela arrives in Utah

Posted at 10:15 PM, Feb 14, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-15 08:25:57-05

RIVERTON - After 20 months of waiting for her family to return to the United States, an emotional Utah mother’s wish, partly, came true.

“As soon as our eyes locked, she knew it was me,” said a smiling Lauri Holt.

She flew to Miami on Saturday to be there as her step-granddaughter came off a plane.

“I just kept looking at her face and kept kissing her face,” Holt beamed.

But it’s all bittersweet for Holt because she was hoping to see three more faces: her son Josh, his wife Thamy, and Thamy’s other daughter.

Josh Holt went to Venezuela almost two years ago to marry Thamy. At the time, Venezuela was dealing with political turmoil and Holt was warned Americans may not be safe there.

Just a couple days after their wedding, local police swept through their apartment arresting the pair and alleging they had been stockpiling weapons, something that U.S. Government officials have denied.

“It was a fight,” said Lauri of getting one of the girls, Nathalia, home. “It was a fight like it continues to be for Josh.”

The past few days since Nathalia’s arrival have kept Lauri, and her husband Jason’s, hands full.

“It was like a kid in a candy store,” said Holt of Nathalia’s reaction to everything.

Holt said Nathalia had her first warm bath this week, and a nice bed to sleep in.

Wednesday was her first day of class. It was Valentine’s Day and Nathalia felt the love from her classmates.

Now, Lauri Holt pushes on in hopes of getting the rest of her family released.

“For me, it was like a piece of him coming home," she said.