SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – The mother of former Venezuelan imprisoned Josh Holt has passed away, according to her family. 

In a post on her Facebook, an announcement was made that Laurie Holt died Sunday morning. 

“We are devastated to announce the tragic passing of our sweet Mama Bear Laurie Holt this morning. She had a gigantic heart and we will miss her dearly. We ask for privacy as we mourn her passing and will provide more details on funeral arrangements as soon as possible.”

Laurie Holt was a champion supporter of her son and his wife Thamara Caleno who were imprisoned after Venezuela after Josh Holt set out for the South American country in June 2016 to meet Caleno who he had met online while he was looking for Spanish-speaking Mormons who could help him improve his Spanish.

He had planned to spend several months in Caracas that summer with his new wife and her two daughters, to secure their visas so they could move with him to the U.S. 

Instead, the couple was arrested that June 30 at her family’s apartment in a government housing complex on the outskirts of Caracas. Authorities accused him of stockpiling an assault rifle and grenades, and suggested that his case was linked to other unspecified U.S. attempts to undermine Maduro’s rule amid deep economic and political turbulence.

Laurie Holt said her son and his wife were wrongly accused and worked feverishly to bring attention to her son’s incarceration, hosting rallies, fundraisers and doing media interviews.

Laurie Holt said her son has suffered numerous health problems in jail, including kidney stones and respiratory problems. He was depressed and at one point lost so much weight that he dropped several pant sizes, she said.

Holt and his wife were eventually freed in May 2018. Their departure for Washington came one day after an influential U.S. senator held a surprise meeting in Caracas with Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, who the Trump administration says runs a “dictatorship” and just won re-election in a “sham” vote.

Funeral arrangements for Laurie Holt will be released by the family.

A GoFundMe has been set up on the family’s behalf>>