For the first time since Otto Warmbier died after being returned home from North Korea, his parents, Fred and Cindy Warmbier, are speaking out.
While talking with “Fox & Friends,” the Warmbiers described the harrowing moment they saw their son for the first time in over a year. They also detailed how they were initially told to handle Otto’s imprisonment when he was first sentenced to 15 years of hard labor for reportedly attempting to steal a propaganda sign from a hotel in January 2016.
Never forget Otto Warmbier, our young man NoKo tortured into brain death. May he RIP ? pic.twitter.com/fGSAylI631
— Tammy Bruce (@HeyTammyBruce) August 12, 2017
According to Fred, following Otto’s sentencing, then-President Barack Obama and his administration told them to remain tight-lipped about everything that was going on.
Fred and Cindy told “Fox & Friends” they accepted the administration’s advice and remained hopeful for his safe return.
Otto — a University of Virginia student — would remain a prisoner of North Korea for 18 months before the U.S. government was able to secure his release. On June 13, 2017, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson announced that Otto would finally be reunited with his parents.
Sadly, Fred and Cindy had no idea the state in which their son would be arriving home.
Fred described the moment they were told they were allowed to approach the plane that was carrying their son:
“We walked over to the plane, the engines are still humming, they had just landed …when we got halfway up the steps, we heard this howling, involuntary, inhuman sound. We weren’t really certain what it was. We climbed to the top of the steps and we looked in and Otto was on the stretcher, jerking violently, making these inhuman sounds.”
The father then explained what they saw as he inched closer to Otto:
“Otto had a shaved head, he had a feeding tube coming out of his nose, he was staring blankly into space, jerking violently. He was blind. He was deaf. As we looked at him and tried to comfort him it looked like someone had taken a pair of pliers and rearranged his bottom teeth.”
Cindy admitted that even though they were warned Otto would be in a coma, she believed the status of his health would improve with the help of American doctors.
Six days later, on June 19, Otto died:
BREAKING: 22-year-old Otto Warmbier, U.S. student released from North Korea last week, has passed away, his family says. pic.twitter.com/wnG5QKFKAz
— ABC News (@ABC) June 19, 2017
Cindy told “Fox & Friends” that North Korea, which Fred now describes as “terrorists,” “destroyed” their son. And while Fred believes North Korea “intentionally and purposefully” injured his son, North Korea denies those claims, saying it dealt with Otto “according to domestic law and international standards.”
Now, CNN is reporting that the Hamilton County, Ohio, coroner’s office — which took a deeper look at the 22-year-old’s injuries — is releasing some of its findings.
According to CNN, the coroner mentioned a scar on Otto’s right foot, like the scar Fred described in his interview with Fox. But not everything added up.
According to the coroner’s report, Otto’s “teeth were natural and in good repair.”
Nonetheless, because Fred and Cindy declined the option of a full autopsy, the coroner only performed an external examination.
Dr. Cyril Wecht, a prominent forensic pathologist, told CNN that an autopsy could have provided answers to the unanswered questions of what, exactly, caused Otto’s brain damage.
Otto’s official cause of death has since been listed as “undetermined,” and that’s just fine with Cindy and Fred, who added that their family “have been through enough. Otto is at peace, and it’s about time.”