January 17, 1959 |
Cairo, Illinois, United States
The couple was among a larger group kidnapped by the Abu Sayyaf, an Islamist separatist and terrorist group operating in the southern Philippines, on May 27, 2001. While most of the group were freed after ransoms were paid and several beheaded, the Burnhams were in captivity for a year and a few days. The kidnappers demanded ₱45,000,000 for their release. A ransom of ₱15,000,000 was paid, yet the kidnappers refused to release them. During the eventual rescue attempt by the Philippine Army on June 7, 2002, Martin was killed by three gunshots in the chest and Gracia was wounded in her right leg.
Since her release and the death of her husband, Gracia Burnham has returned to the United States with their three children. She has written two books about her experiences, In the Presence of my Enemies (2003) and To Fly Again (2005). She has also set up the Martin and Gracia Burnham Foundation.
The Burnhams' capture and captivity were the subject of a July 2008 episode of the TV series, Banged Up Abroad.