Tou Ger Xiong, a 50-year-old artist and activist from Minnesota, was killed in Medellín, Colombia, after being taken hostage.
Xiong, recognized as a prominent storyteller and social justice advocate, had traveled to Medellín for a holiday visit with relatives. The trip tragically ended when he was abducted on December 10, 2023.
Xiong was captured by gunmen while on a social media-arranged date. The captors demanded a $2,000 ransom, communicated to a friend by Xiong. However, the ransom remained unpaid, leading to his murder.
On December 12, 2023, Xiong’s body was found in La Corcovado ravine, displaying multiple stab wounds and evidence of a fall, approximately 60 feet. His brother, Eh Xiong, confirmed the death, describing the loss as overwhelming.
Born in Laos in 1973, Xiong’s family fled to the U.S., spending time in a Thai refugee camp before settling in St. Paul, Minnesota. A high achiever, he graduated top of his class from Humboldt High School and attended Carleton College. Xiong became a motivational speaker, storyteller, rap artist, and the first Hmong comedian in America.
His advocacy in social justice and cultural understanding was notable. In 2015, he was instrumental in organizing the first Hmong Minnesota Day at the Minnesota State Fair and was honored in 2019 with a Bush Fellowship.
Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota paid her respects, highlighting Xiong’s community contributions. The investigation into his death involves Colombian and U.S. authorities, with one suspect already detained. The police are also searching for a woman linked to the crime.
In his memory, Xiong’s family plans to establish a foundation, perpetuating his legacy in cultural advocacy and social justice.