Eric Volz

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Eric Volz
Eric Volz, May 2010
Born (1979-05-19) May 19, 1979 (age 36)
Occupation Crisis Management, Author

Eric Volz (born May 19, 1979[1]) is the managing director of the David House Agency,[2] an international crisis resource agency based in Los Angeles.

Eric formed the agency after his own experience detained abroad, sentenced to a 30-year prison term in Nicaragua following his wrongful conviction[3] for the November 2006 rape and murder of ex-girlfriend Doris Ivania Jiménez in San Juan del Sur.

An appeals court overturned the conviction on December 17, 2007, and Volz was released from prison on December 21, 2007. He left Nicaragua immediately and went into hiding in an unknown location outside Nicaragua because of death threats and over concerns for his physical safety.

Friends and supporters in both countries had insisted on Volz's innocence, claiming that the trial court ignored evidence, and that Volz was the victim of anti-gringo sentiment.[4] Opponents in Nicaragua protested against his release due to what they perceived as special consideration as an American, pressure from the United States government, and accusations that Volz's family bribed the appellate court judges.[5][6]

Upon his return to the United States, Eric wrote a memoir about his experience, Gringo Nightmare: A Young American Framed for Murder in Nicaragua.[7] The book was published by St. Martin's Press.

Early life[edit]

Volz was born in Northern California and is a former resident of Nashville, Tennessee.[8] He received a degree in Latin American Studies from University of California, San Diego.[8] Volz later moved to Managua, Nicaragua, where he launched El Puente ("The Bridge") magazine, advocating for smart growth and ecotourism.[9]

Arrest for murder[edit]

On November 21, 2006, Doris Ivania Jiménez, a Nicaraguan who had dated Volz, was murdered at midday in her store in San Juan del Sur, a Nicaraguan coastal town near Rivas. Volz was arrested and charged with her murder.[10] However, according to both associates and mobile phone records, Volz was at his home in Managua, which also served as the magazine headquarters, conducting meetings and business, including a conference call with contacts in Atlanta, Georgia, in the United States, and telephone and internet logs confirm this.[10] Managua is a two-hour drive from San Juan del Sur.[9]

The police decided there were four suspects. Two were local San Juan del Sur Nicaraguan surfers, Julio Martín Chamorro López (30), known locally by his nickname "Rosita" — who a local policeman remembered seeing him wandering near Sol Fashion shirtless, bearing what appeared to be fresh scratches and "acting nervous” — and Nelson Antonio López Dangla, (24), known locally as "Krusty Dangla". The third suspect, who was rumored to have been dating Doris Jiménez at the time of her death, was Nicaraguan college student Armando Llanes (20), whose college — Ave Maria College of the Americas, located near Managua — provided him an alibi for part of the time during which the rape and murder had been committed, hence he was never arrested. The fourth suspect was U.S. citizen Eric Volz, who had dated Jiménez for over year, but the couple had broken up by the summer of 2006.[11]

Volz was arrested November 23, 2006, and charged with murder, based on the claims of surfers "Rosita" Chamorro and "Krusty" Dangla, who were both originally charged with the murder, and -- per police records -- who both bore physical scratches on their bodies, consistent with evidence that Jiménez had scratched her attacker(s). Krusty was released, while Rosita remained in custody, and later appeared as a co-defendant at the trial on February 14th, 2007. Later, Rosita admitted to journalist Tony D'Souza that his testimony had been coerced by the police. [9] According to Volz's attorneys, Nicaraguan prosecutors did not produce any physical evidence before or at trial.[10] Although ten witnesses supported Volz's alibi and were with him at the time of the murder, the trial court judge, Ivette Toruño Blanco, disallowed the testimony of all of ten claiming their testimony would be redundant and only permitted the testimony of three people who were not with Volz at the time of the murder.

On February 14, 2007, a police officer testified that Rosita Chamorro, claimed that Volz and another foreigner, whom he did not identify, participated in the murder. In her testimony, Mercedes Alvarado, mother of the victim, described Volz as a jealous man whom her daughter believed would kill her because of his jealousy.[12] At the conclusion of the three-day trial, Judge Toruño Blanco convicted Volz and sentenced him to 30 years in prison.[13]

On December 17, 2007, Volz was ordered released after an appeals court overturned the conviction. His passport and bail of $10,000 were never returned: Volz, however, was not immediately freed because a judge failed to show up for an afternoon meeting to arrange his release.[14] Local judge Ivette Toruño Blanco delayed signing the order releasing him.[15] On December 20, 2007, an appeals court in Granada signed release papers for Volz. The release came despite a prosecutor's decision to appeal the case to the Supreme Court and their assertions that their appeal would stay Volz's release. Prosecutor Isolda Ibarra, who conducted the prosecution of Volz at trial, had stated earlier, "we presented the appeal, and the law is clear: that the release is suspended until the high court rules on the case." The Sandinista National Liberation Front governments chief prosecutor, Julio Centeno, referred to Volz's liberation as a "barbarity", a view echoed by Red guerilla Omar Cabezas.[16]

Volz's mother appeared on NBC's Today on December 21, 2007, petitioning the Nicaraguan government to release her son. She received support from the White House with a speech from U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.[17] The same day, the appeals court signed release papers for Volz, who left Nicaragua on Friday afternoon, said Eddie Vasquez, a spokesman for the U.S. State Department.[4]

Case reopened[edit]

On November 17, 2008, Volz announced via a YouTube video that the Nicaraguan government had reopened its case against him after 11 months. Volz argued that retrying an acquitted person violates Nicaragua's constitution and he claimed political motivation, specifically anti-American sentiment, for this action.[18]


In May 2010, St. Martin’s Press published a memoir by Volz entitled Gringo Nightmare.[19] The book was edited by Charlie Spicer, who USA Today calls, "publishing's most savvy true-crime editor".[20] A paperback edition was published a year later in May 2011.

The book launched with a first of its kind online "Exhibit Hall"[21] that allows readers to review actual case materials such as: photographs and video from inside prisons, headshots of main characters, audio tapes from trial, autopsy reports, government documents, witness statements, crime scene photos, original police case file, defense motions, court rulings, and newspaper articles.[22] The book's foreword was written by investigative journalist Bill Kurtis host of A&E Network's Investigative Reports, American Justice, and Cold Case Files. Bill Kurtis stated, "This story should be issued with every passport.”[23]

The book received praise after its release. Publishers Weekly said “There is much pain in Volz's memoir of being a young American in a near-perfect frame-up involving murder, tabloid headlines, police corruption, and political power plays in Nicaragua.”[24] Outside Magazine said, “Volz walks us through his ordeal in clear, engaging prose, focusing on the trial and the challenges of daily life in rank Central American prisons.[25]

The book has not been translated into Spanish.

Further reading[edit]


  1. ^ Glasgow, Michael (2008). The Bridge: The Eric Volz Story: Murder, Intrigue, and a Struggle for Justice in Nicaragua. Morgan James. p. 2. ISBN 1-60037-501-4. 
  2. ^ Karoub, Jeff (2/21/12). "Will speaking out help save Mich. prisoner in Iran?". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved 3/2/12.  Check date values in: |date=, |accessdate= (help)
  3. ^ Lacey, Marc (6 January 2008). "Killing in Nicaragua Makes Spectacle of the Courts". New York Times. Retrieved 1 February 2012. 
  4. ^ a b CNN Anderson Cooper, 2007
  5. ^ Garcia, Edmundo (2007-12-27). "American freed in Nicaragua goes into hiding". CNN. Archived from the original on December 22, 2007. Retrieved 2007-12-22. 
  6. ^ Celizic, Mike (2007-12-21). "Will Nicaragua ever set Eric Volz free?". MSNBC. Archived from the original on 2009-01-18. Retrieved 2007-12-23. 
  7. ^ Van Pelt, Doug. "Eric Volz Update". HM Magazine. Retrieved 3/2/12.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  8. ^ a b "Eric's Story". Friends of Eric Volz. Archived from the original on March 4, 2007. Retrieved March 22, 2007. 
  9. ^ a b c Brad Schrade (March 18, 2007). "From Nashville to Nicaragua, family fights to free son". The Tennessean. Retrieved March 22, 2007. [dead link]
  10. ^ a b c Jared Allen. "Volz victim of cultural, political, judicial perfect storm". The City Paper. Retrieved 2007-03-22. [dead link]
  11. ^
  12. ^ "American guilty in Nicaragua". San Antonio News Express. 2007-12-17. Archived from the original on 2009-01-18. Retrieved 2009-01-18. 
  13. ^ Lacey, Marc (2008-01-06). "Killing in Nicaragua Makes Spectacle of the Courts". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-01-18. 
  14. ^ Lyons, John (2007-12-17). "Man Profiled in WSJ Is Freed In Nicaraguan Murder Case". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2007-12-17. 
  15. ^ Rogers, Tim (2007-12-18). "Gringo Justice in Nicaragua". Time. Archived from the original on 2009-01-18. Retrieved 2008-08-04. 
  16. ^ "Gringo Justice in Nicaragua". Time. 2007-12-18. 
  17. ^ "Mother of Eric Volz petitions for her sons release.". Today. Retrieved 2007-12-21. [dead link]
  18. ^ "Eric Volz to be re-tried in Nicaragua today at 9am CST". 2008-11-17. Archived from the original on 2009-01-18. Retrieved 2009-01-18. 
  19. ^ Volz, Eric. Gringo Nightmare: A Young American Framed For Murder in Nicaragua. St. Martin’s Press, 2011. ISBN 9780312584177
  20. ^ Donahue, Deirdre (10/27/02). "Publishers avoid D.C. sniper story". USA Today. Retrieved 3/2/12.  Check date values in: |date=, |accessdate= (help)
  21. ^ Chiger, Sherry. "The Web, Social Networks, and "Gringo Nightmare"". Multichannel Merchant Blog. Multichannel Merchant. Retrieved 22 March 2012. 
  22. ^ "Gringo Nightmare Exhibit Hall". Gringo Nightmare. Retrieved 26 August 2015. 
  23. ^ Volz, Eric. Gringo Nightmare: A Young American Framed For Murder in Nicaragua. St. Martin’s Press, 2011. ISBN 9780312584177
  24. ^ "Gringo Nightmare: A Young American Framed for Murder in Nicaragua". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved August 20, 2015. 
  25. ^ D’Souza, Tony (April 26, 2010). "Books: Gringo Nightmare". Outside Magazine. Retrieved August 27, 2015. 

External links[edit]