American ISIS hostage Kayla Mueller dead, family says

Updated 8:38 AM EST, Wed February 11, 2015
Kayla Mueller headshot (courtesy of the family)
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Story highlights

Official: One photo ISIS sent to Kayla Mueller's family showed her in a burial shroud

Obama: U.S. devoted "enormous resources" to try to free Mueller and other hostages

(CNN) —  

Kayla Mueller’s parents had been holding out hope.

But on Tuesday, the family of the American being held hostage by ISIS revealed devastating news.

They received it, officials said, in a message from her captors.

“We are heartbroken to share that we’ve received confirmation that Kayla Jean Mueller has lost her life,” the family said in a statement. “Kayla was a compassionate and devoted humanitarian. She dedicated the whole of her young life to helping those in need of freedom, justice and peace.”

ISIS sent the family a private message over the weekend, National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said.

“Once this information was authenticated by the intelligence community, they concluded that Kayla was deceased,” Meehan said.

The message sent to the family included photos. One picture showed her wrapped in a burial shroud, but there was enough showing for the family and forensics examiners to identify her, a U.S. official briefed on the matter told CNN.

The photos also showed bruises on the face, The New York Times reported, but it was unclear whether her injuries were consistent with being killed in the rubble of a flattened building, as ISIS claims.

The new information does not confirm how Mueller died, a law enforcement source familiar with the case said on condition of anonymity.

On Friday, ISIS said that Mueller, 26, an aid worker captured in northern Syria in 2013, had been killed in a building hit during a Jordanian airstrike on Raqqa, the militants’ de facto capital in Syria. At the time, ISIS offered no proof to back up its claim, other than an image of a building in rubble.

But a White House spokesman on Tuesday placed blame for her death squarely on ISIS.

“This was, after all, the organization that was holding her against her will. That means they were responsible for her safety and well-being, and they are therefore responsible for her death,” spokesman Josh Earnest said.

Confirmation of Mueller’s death drew condolences and tributes from across the country and around the world. In Jordan, where seething leaders have vowed revenge after ISIS burned a captive Jordanian pilot to death, government spokesm