Reporter: Melinda Zosh
Lynchburg, VA - The father of the 14 year old who escaped from his kidnappers in the Philippines spoke for the first time Sunday.
Kevin Lunsmann, 14, escaped his captors who are believed to be linked to an al-quaida militant group.
Father Heiko Lunsmann talked on camera about the nightmare that's consumed his life and how now he feels like the proudest dad in the world.
"I can tell you a lot of things, but I only know that he is a hero," Heiko Lunsmann said.
Kevin's family members say that he earned his kidnappers' trust and then tricked them. He told them he was going to bathe by the river and then ran for his life. He went two days through the jungle.
Family members say he was able to follow the river, he then tracked through the jungle without shoes.
"And I'm so happy that he was released or he escaped," Heiko Lunsmann said.
Initial reports said that Kevin was released, but family members say Kevin escaped, and they believe he had been planning his escape for a very long time.
Heiko believes Kevin overheard his captors talking about the ransom, somewhere in the range of $10 million. They saw Kevin as their ticket to riches.
"It was a tough time. It was a tough five months," Heiko Lunsmann said.
Five months that culminated this weekend with his dramatic trip through the jungle. Eventually villagers spotted him, and he was home free.
"Nobody in the world has any idea how I feel, and I am so proud of my son," Heiko Lunsmann said.
Family members say Kevin will eventually share his story of escape and trial, but for now, his father is speaking for the entire family..
"I'm just so happy," Heiko Lunsmann said.
And for a story that has made headlines across the globe, Heiko says his friends right here in the Lynchburg area gave him strength to hope.
"And I really thank everybody in the community. Whatever they did, thank you," Heiko Lunsmann said.