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Lynnfield native found dead in Nicaragua

Was volunteering with Wyoming church

Karen Colclough worked as a tour guide in Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming.Handout

Karen Colclough spent a great deal of her life dedicated to helping others. A native of Lynnfield who had been living in Wyoming for the past decade, Colclough was assisting her church group and an international group helping families in Nicaragua when she was found dead on Monday.

Colclough, 37, was reported missing on Friday in Tierra Nueva, Nicaragua, where she had been a volunteer with the Presbyterian Church of Jackson Hole, Wyo., and Argos International, a nonprofit working with rural families in Central America.

It was her second trip with the Presbyterian Church group and an international aid group, said Pastor Paul Hayden. Colclough had gone on an earlier mission to Guatemala with the church and a children's homes organization, said Hayden.


Douglas Colclough said in a phone interview from Lynnfield on Tuesday that the Managuan Embassy told him that one or two suspects were in custody in his daughter's death, but specific information was not available.

Karen Colclough was committed to helping others throughout her life, her 72-year-old father said. She was an EMT and "always very helpful and very religious," he said. He fears that someone may have taken advantage of her helpful nature and caused her death.

Argos International, which coordinated the trip, said Colclough had lost contact with the rest of her service team at Barcelo Montelimar, a beach resort near Montelimar, Nicaragua, where they were staying after completing their work.

After the check-in and debriefing on Friday, she said she was going for a run on the beach, but she did not return for dinner with the team. At about 6 p.m, they started searching for her.

Colclough took a Bible, a camera, and her journal with her when she left the resort, said her father.

Argos International posted on its Facebook page later that evening that it was "very sorry to report that a service team member has gone missing. Karen Colclough, with five others from the Presbyterian Church of Jackson Hole, WY have been in Nicaragua for a week working in Tierra Nueva."


Hayden confirmed on Monday that Colclough's body had been found outside the boundaries of the resort. The site was about a quarter-mile from where the group was staying, her father said.

The US State Department on Tuesday expressed "its deepest condolences to the family and friends of Karen Colclough."

Colclough leaves her mother and older brother, along with her father. Plans are underway to return her body to the United States, but her father said it is unlikely that the parents will go to Nicaragua to retrieve it.

Colclough had been a member of the Presbyterian Church of Jackson Hole for more than 10 years, since the time of her move to Wyoming, said Hayden. "She exuded a sense of calm, and a sense of joy. She had an incredibly adventurous spirit, and was just a lot of fun," he said.

While serving as an active deacon within the church, she worked a number of jobs in the area. Until last fall, Karen Colclough was a supervisor in a Wyoming facility for those with reduced mental abilities, said Douglas Colclough.

In addition, she worked as a guide in Yellowstone National Park and at the Grand Teton National Park, as well as teaching adaptive skiing, which assists disabled skiers, at Snow King Resort.


"She was consistent to the core on who she was," said Hayden. "There was no pretense. Our hope is that more people will be like her, because the world needs people like that."

Jennifer Smith can be reached at