KREMMLING, Colo. (KDVR) — The Williams family said they are still on high alert after their farm in Ecuador was the target of robbers who ended up shooting and killing wife and mother Francesca Williams.
The family used to live in Kremmling before moving to Ecuador.
“We need to navigate this grief we are about to go through. There are a ton of different stages of this right now, we’re on a heightened level of anxiousness and security because we aren’t in a safe place,” Michael Williams said.
Michael lived on the farm in Vilcabamba with his wife Francesca and their three daughters Rachel, Renee and Rebekah. Everyone, according to Michael, was home on Saturday, May 20, when a group of men invaded their property.
“We never would have imagined people were staking us out,” Michael said. “We are so far removed. It’s a three-kilometer drive to and from. And to hike and in and out, it’s incomprehensible.”
Michael said he was outside when he saw someone in his peripheral vision. He dropped to the ground and believed he was hit on the head with a brick. He said his father-in-law was also beaten up. Francesca was shot by one of the robbers.
“I saw my grandpa on the floor with a strange man to the right, then I saw another man with my mom and she was scrambling after him, basically fighting him off,” Rachel said. “Then I saw two sparks of a gun and heard gunshots.”
Rachel said she shut the door because she knew she wasn’t going to be able to fight off the robbers. But the men made their way into the home ordering her and her sister Renee around.
Rachel said the robbers were asking in Spanish where the large aunt was. That’s when she realized they may have had the wrong home.
“They were asking where the ‘large aunt’ was and that doesn’t match anyone who’s ever even been on our property,” Rachel said.
The robbers, according to Michael, tied him up and then rummaged through their home taking everything from iPads to computers, and finally left. Michael said he then went out looking for his wife and oldest daughter, Rebekah.
“Then I found my wife and she had been killed,” Michael said. “We ran down the hill and into our car and took her to emergency services, but it was too late for her.”
Rebekah said she heard the commotion outside her yurt, saw what was unfolding and fled into the jungle area near their farm before running to nearby neighbors.
“Our mom was the big thinker of the family,” Rebekah said.
Michael said his wife was shot in the back, near her heart.
“I think they saw Francesca as a threat and she was physically capable of handling that man,” Michael said.
Michael and his daughters believe their mom was doing everything to protect their family from the robbers.
“I think things could have been a lot worse if she didn’t interfere. She probably did her best to make sure we were all alright,” Rebekah said.
The family said they were making plans before the robbery to move back to the States.
“Ecuador is where Francesca felt most safe ironically,” Michael said. “Quite possibly if we stayed in the United States she would still be with us and nothing would have befallen her or my family.”
According to the GoFundMe put together by Francesca’s adoptive mom, the family is planning on flying back to the States at the end of May and they are currently working with the U.S. consulate in Ecuador to help return Francesca’s body to the United States.
“Now that we no longer have our spearhead for why we were up here in Ecuador,” Michael said.
The family kept their home in Kremmling while living abroad and they are planning to move back now. Right now, the family isn’t living at the farm in Ecuador because of safety concerns and is living with friends in a neighboring town.
According to Michael, police are heavily involved and there’s an ongoing investigation. He also mentioned dozens of expats and locals in the nearby community signed a letter to Ecuador’s President Lasso demanding justice and reform.
“With our family, we will have to move forward ’cause we don’t have Francesca guiding us,” Michael said.
According to GoFundMe, Francesca will be buried in the Riverside Cemetery in Kremmling. The page stated she will be buried next to Francesca‘s biological mother who died in 2021.