Gringo Nightmare

A Young American Framed for Murder in Nicaragua

Eric Volz

St. Martin's Press

In the spirit of Midnight Express and Not Without My Daughter comes the harrowing true story of an American held in a Nicaraguan prison for a murder he didn’t commit.


Eric Volz was in his late twenties in 2005 when he moved from California to Nicaragua.  He and a friend cofounded a bilingual magazine, El Puente, and it proved more successful than they ever expected. Then Volz met Doris Jiménez, an incomparable beauty from a small Nicaraguan beach town, and they began a passionate and meaningful relationship. Though the relationship ended amicably less than a year later and Volz moved his business to the capital city of Managua, a close bond between the two endured.

Nothing prepared him for the phone call he received on November 21, 2006, when he learned that Doris had been found dead---murdered---in her seaside clothing boutique. He rushed from Managua to be with her friends and family, and before he knew it, he found himself accused of her murder, arrested, and imprisoned.

Decried in the press and vilified by his onetime friends, Volz suffered horrific conditions, illness, deadly inmates, an angry lynch mob, sadistic guards, and the merciless treatment of government officials. It was only through his dogged persistence, the tireless support of his friends and family, and the assistance of a former intelligence operative that Eric was released, in December 2007, after more than a year in prison.

A story that made national and international headlines, this is the first and only book to tell Eric’s absorbing, moving account in his own words.


Visit the companion Exhibit Hall at the Gringo Nightmare website for additional photos, audio clips, video, case files, and more.


Read an Excerpt

Excerpted from Chapter 4
Suddenly the Enemy

I’ll never forget the barking.
     I would hear it again in other Nicaraguan prisons, but hearing it now for the first time as the truck pulled through the gates of the Rivas jail, I began to tremble. I could handle the hooting and the shouting, the clanging and banging against the rusted bars of the windows, but what I heard now went beyond anything I could have imagined. And through all that crazy noise, the sound of barking stood out, and I knew instantly that there were no dogs, that these were men I was



Praise for Gringo Nightmare

“This story should be issued with every passport.” ---from the foreword by Bill Kurtis, author of The Death Penalty on Trial and host of A&E’s Cold Case Files

“A powerful story of injustice, iron determination, and incomprehensible strength. Proof that wrongful convictions can happen anywhere, at anytime, to anyone.” ---Jennifer Thompson-Cannino and Ronald Cotton, coauthors of the New York Times bestselling Picking Cotton

Gringo Nightmare is a brave and riveting account of a young man wrongfully imprisoned, offering insight into the history, politics, and geography of a nation. It’s major motion picture material.”---Elizabeth F. Loftus, Ph.D., coauthor of Witness for the Defense and The Myth of Repressed Memory

“A chilling tale of how political pressure and a rigged judicial process led to the conviction of an innocent man, and a powerful story of how one man’s faith in the truth, combined with grassroots pressure from people around the world who had never met Eric Volz, eventually helped to end an unjust imprisonment.” ---KC Johnson, coauthor of the New York Times bestselling Until Proven Innocent


Reviews from Goodreads



  • Eric Volz

  • ERIC VOLZ was born in Northern California.  He is a former magazine publisher and investment consultant, who holds a degree in Latin American Studies from the University of California, San Diego.

    In November 2006, while living in Nicaragua, he was falsely accused and wrongfully convicted for the rape and murder of his ex-girlfriend Doris Jiménez, and consequently sentenced to a 30-year prison term. After spending over a year in the Nicaraguan Prison system, an appeals court overturned the conviction and Volz was released in December of 2007.

    Since his release, Volz filed a petition in the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States, seeking a declaration of his innocence and protection under the American Convention on Human Rights from further persecution by the Government of Nicaragua. Although he is no longer behind bars, his case continues to test the role and authority of a supra-national tribunal with major potential to engage international policy discussions and subsequent reform.

    He has been a guest on and featured in The Today Show, CNN, NBC News, PBS, Telemundo and Univision, New York Times, Washington Post, WSJ, People and NPR.

  • Eric Volz Jimmy Abegg
    Eric Volz


Eric Volz

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Available Formats and Book Details

Gringo Nightmare

A Young American Framed for Murder in Nicaragua

Eric Volz



St. Martin's Press