UNIVERSITY HEIGHTS, Ohio (WOIO) - A Solon man has been stuck in Bangkok for more than two months after Thai officials accused him of having a single bullet in his luggage at the airport.
Mike Jones, 37, was detained after he wrapped up a solo birthday trip.
He and his family deny the allegations, adding that there’s no proof or evidence of the bullet being found.
“Right now he’s in survival mode,” his mother Tanya Durden-Jones told 19 News at her University Heights home. “That’s all he’s thinking, how to survive.”
She said Jones is technically a free man, living in an apartment in Bangkok until he gets his passport back.
“Many times we thought he was coming home but something fell through," Durden-Jones said.
Despite his so-called freedom, Jones said her son is being treated unfairly, even being hauled off to a Thai prison in what authorities later brushed off as a simple mistake.
“He said ‘I was shackled by the ankles and handcuffed and they took me to prison’," Durden-Jones said, recalling a recent conversation with her son.
The family has hired a lawyer to help with legal matters and they’ve spent more than $20,000 on general expenses since the ordeal began on December 12th.
The Jones family has expressed a certain level of frustration about a lack of help from government officials.
“You feel alone because you know -- I thought I’d have more support than I have right now," Durden-Jones told 19 News.
The offices of Ohio Senators Rob Portman and Sherrod Brown, along with the office of Rep. Marcia Fudge, told 19 News they’re aware of the situation. A press secretary for Fudge said the congresswoman has filed an inquiry with the State Department, on behalf of Mike Jones’ parents. Portman’s office said the senator is engaged with State Department and Embassy officials. Brown’s office declined to comment on the Jones’ situation specifically.
We reached out the State Department for comment, but have not yet heard back.
Jones, who was traveling alone, has a 16-year-old son.
“He loves his son, that’s who it’s affecting most. His son (is) 16 and he can’t handle it," said Durden-Jones.
But she remains optimistic, believing she must stay strong for her family.
“I can’t afford to be emotional. If I break down, he’s in trouble," she said. "So I have to appear strong. Sure I have my days, but I have to appear strong for him.”
The family has set up a GoFundMe page to help cover growing expenses.