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Her husband faces Turks and Caicos prison time after ammo found in travel bag: 'Very honest mistake'

Jeriann Wenrich calls the fact her husband Tyler may be jailed for 12 years "absurd" after he was arrested in Turks and Caicos when ammunition was found in his luggage.
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Posted at 9:17 AM, Apr 30, 2024

Jeriann Wenrich called the fact her husband Tyler may be jailed for 12 years "absurd" after he was arrested in Turks and Caicos when ammunition was found in his luggage.

"I feel like as a very honest mistake, that 12 years is absurd,” Jeriann Wenrich said. “I mean maybe one night in jail."

The Virginia couple must now wait to see how the island's judicial system plays out.

 Jeriann Wenrich
Jeriann Wenrich

Customs officers said they found two bullets in his backpack as he was about to board a cruise ship Saturday.

The EMT and father faces a mandatory minimum prison sentence of up to 12 years.

Jeriann Wenrich said her husband had been on the island for less than a day. She said she was worried about the unknowns.

“All I could run through my head is that I'm never going to see my husband again,” she said. “My son's only 18 months and I just don't want him to grow up without a dad."

In response to the arrest, the Powhatan (Virginia) Volunteer Rescue Squad, which Tyler Wenrich is a member of, released the following statement.


Powhatan Volunteer Rescue Squad is deeply saddened and shocked to learn about the recent arrest of our longtime member and former Captain, Tyler Wenrich. Our hearts go out to Tyler and his family during this difficult time, and we want to emphasize our unwavering support for them.

Tyler has been an integral part of our organization for many years, and his dedication and service have left an indelible mark on our community. As a former Captain, Tyler exhibited exemplary leadership qualities and was instrumental in guiding our squad through numerous challenges. His commitment to the well-being of others was evident in every aspect of his work, and his contributions to our team have been invaluable.

Throughout his time with us, Tyler was not only a skilled Paramedic but also one of the kindest and most compassionate individuals we have ever had the privilege of knowing. His genuine concern for others, coupled with his professionalism and dedication, set him apart as a role model for all members of our organization.

While we are deeply troubled by the recent events, we want to emphasize that Tyler remains a respected member of our community, and we are committed to supporting him and his family in any way we can. As an organization, we stand ready to assist Tyler during this challenging period, and we urge our community to offer their support and understanding as well.

Powhatan Volunteer Rescue Squad is dedicated to serving our community with integrity, compassion, and professionalism. We remain steadfast in our commitment to upholding these principles and supporting our members through both triumphs and trials.

T.J. Smith, Chief of Powhatan Volunteer Rescue Squad

Members of Virginia's Congressional delegation said they were aware and involved in Wenrich's situation.

"Sen. Warner’s office is in contact with Mr. Wenrich’s family and is exploring potential avenues for help with this unfortunate situation," a spokesperson for Sen. Mark Warner said in a statement.

“Senator Kaine is aware of this situation. He is in touch with the Department of State to ensure Mr. Wenrich receives fair treatment and will continue to monitor it closely as the legal process continues," said a spokesperson for Sen. Tim Kaine.

"Tyler has dedicated his life to the service of others as the vice president of operations at Emergency Services Solutions Inc., an EMS agency that staffs rural 911 ambulances. He belongs back home with his family and serving his community. I will do everything I can to work towards Tyler's release and return home," Rep. Bob Good said in part in a statement on X. "I am calling on the Biden Administration to request his immediate release and to issue a formal State Department Travel Advisory to warn those traveling to Turks and Caicos that they may face excessive criminal penalties for minor offenses."

There are at least four American tourists potentially facing lengthy prison sentences and a fifth, who served nearly six months, after they said they mistakenly brought ammunition in their luggage on vacation.

Ryan Watson, a 40-year-old father of two, is now out of jail on bail. But he cannot go home ahead of a June court hearing.

After a birthday vacation with his wife, he was arrested at the airport on April 12 when security found four rounds of hunting ammo in his carry-on.

Watson said he checked his bag before packing it.

“I opened it up and kind of gave it a little shimmy,” he said. “I didn't see anything ... didn't hear anything.”

The TSA acknowledged officers missed the ammo when his bag was screened at the checkpoint in Oklahoma City on April 7.

"It was my oversight. It was my mistake,” Watson said. “It was very, very innocent. And, now I just pray that, like I said, compassion and consideration, because there was zero criminal intent.”

Following CBS News’ initial report Tuesday, the State Department reissued a warning to "carefully check your luggage for stray ammunition."

A State Department spokesperson told Scripps News Richmond that its greatest priority is safety and security of citizens and it is ready to help when someone is arrested, but added citizens are usually subject to the laws of other countries.

This story was originally published by Cameron Thompson at Scripps News Richmond.