Missionary from WNY beaten, killed in Jamaica

Posted at 10:49 AM, May 02, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-03 12:33:52-04

A man from Western New York was one of two U.S. missionaries found dead in a rural area of Jamaica on Saturday.

The Jamaica Constabulary Force said the battered bodies of Harold Nichols, 53, of the Town of Randolph in Cattaraugus County, and Randy Hentzel, 48 of Iowa, were found in bushes in separate areas of St. Mary parish on the northeast end of the Caribbean island.

Both men lived and worked in Jamaica for TEAMS for Medical Missions, a Christian organization based in Pennsylvania that led a Bible ministry and built homes for impoverished families.

"He spent all of his fays building houses for people, taking people to the hospital, and visiting sick people," said Teri Nichols, the wife of Harold Nichols.

His sister, who still lives in Western New York says she will miss her brother terribly.

"I am being sustained by my faith," said Shirley Ingersoll, Harold's sister. "It's not that you don't experience an overwhelming grief at times but it doesn't stay and I thank the Lord that it doesn't."

Friend and fellow missionary Molly Lindberg is still in shock over the death of Nichols. “He was a person that you would not forget. Everybody liked Harold,” said Lindberg. “Why Harold and Randy? I have no idea,” she added.

According to reps from Nichols’ mission group, both he and Hentzel were inspecting a site to build a house for a poor family when they were attacked on Saturday.

Lindberg said she first met Nichols and his wife, Teri while on a mission trip to Haiti through the East Randolph United Methodist Church in 2002.  Since then, both she and her husband have been on many mission trips to Jamaica with the couple. Nichols and his wife worked to build homes for the poor. They also ran a bible club and breakfast program for Jamaican children. “He was loved by everybody. His heart was really with children, and people in need,” said Rev. Rodney Mileham.

Lindberg said the deaths have certainly shaken her faith. “We're going to miss him terribly. We know that somehow this is God's plan. We trust that. But, I don't know what God's plan is.”

Church leaders said it’s unclear what their role in Jamaica will be moving forward. But what is clear, is Nichols’ death will be a huge loss to the small community. “He was just a personable person. He just loved people and that's what the world needs more of,” Mileham said.

The church plans to hold a local remembrance service. However, a date and time has not yet been set.

Police say they have not made any arrests.