The remains of the four Americans who were slain by Somali pirates earlier this week have arrived back in the United States, a US Navy Central Command representative told Santa Monica Patch on Friday morning.
The remains had been aboard the USS Enterprise off the coast of Somalia, a U.S. Navy Central Command spokesman said Tuesday.
Meanwhile, also on Friday morning, Department of Justice spokesman Dean Boyd said, "The Justice Department and the FBI continue to actively investigate and evaluate evidence regarding the killings."
Among the victims were Jean and Scott Adam, who were parishioners at . Funeral and memorial services are still pending.
The couple had been on an around-the-world voyage, distributing Bibles.
"Retirement for them was relaxed, but they went to the far-flung corners of this world and visited the poorest of the poor," St. Monica Monsignor Lloyd Torgerson said.
The other two Americans onboard the ship, the Quest, were Phyllis Macay and Bob Riggle of Seattle.
The yacht, which was owned by Jean and Scott Adam, was hijacked by pirates about 270 miles off the coast of Oman in the Indian Ocean on Friday. U.S. forces had been closely watching the Quest for about three days since it was hijacked.
Four U.S. Navy warships were deployed to help recover it, including the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise, the guided-missile cruiser USS Leyte Gulf, and the guided-missile destroyers USS Sterett and USS Bulkeley. Negotiators established bridge-to-bridge contact with the pirates, and a series of talks began, said Vice Admiral Mark Fox, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command and of the U.S. 5th Fleet
Two pirates boarded the USS Sterett on Monday as part of the negotiations and remained there overnight. At 8 a.m. local time (10 p.m. Monday, Pacific Time), a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) was unexpectedly fired from the Quest toward the USS Sterett, which was about 600 yards away. The RPG missed, and shortly thereafter gunfire was heard erupting from the cabinet of the Quest. Several pirates moved to the bow with their hands in the air in surrender, Fox said.
Small boats with U.S. Special Operations Forces responded to the gunfire and boarded the Quest to find that all four hostages had been shot and died despite immediate life-saving care. Two pirates who also died were found aboard the 58-foot yacht.
While clearing the yacht, two more pirates were killed by U.S. forces. One was shot to death and the other was killed with a knife, Fox said.
Fox said the pirates were intent on getting the hostages to Somalia and were consistently making their way southwest toward the lawless country.