...Her Martial Art Training Gave Her The Edge....


Story by Terri Cotta

On Thursday, Jan. 18th, 2007 A New Hero Was Made

On Thursday January 18th, 2007 young miss Marrisa Graham, the 10 year old  daughter of Mr. Christopher Graham both proud members of Pontawee Camp USA in Guymon, Oklahoma, and under the tutelage of Muay Thai instructor Kru Ric Sniffen was kidnapped as she was collecting donations for the American Red Cross in her home town of Texhoma, Oklahoma in the Oklahoma Panhandle.  Marissa is white. She has reddish/blonde hair, blue eyes, and stands about 4 feet tall and weighs around  60 lbs. 


An eyewitness saw the girl about 6:30 p.m. Thursday. The witness saw a man reading a book with the girl nearby. The witness said the man left and came back about 10 to 15 minutes later, then drove off in a white car.  On Friday January 19th, 2007 at 3:30 pm MST in the City of Clovis, New Mexico, young Marrisa escaped from her kidnapper by kicking open the trunk of the vehicle she was being held in  after her kidnapper stopped at a convenience store for gas,  and running up to the store clerk screaming her name and that she had been kidnapped officials said. She took the opportunity to bolt from the car and into the convenience store and identified herself as the girl everyone was looking for and give the telephone number for the Texhoma Police Department. The suspect is described as a white male, 35-40 years of age with facial hair, a pasty complexion, and possibly brown hair, according to a press release from the Clovis, N.M., Police Department. The vehicle Marissa Graham escaped from is described as a purple, four-door van or SUV, which police are currently seeking. Anyone with information on the suspect is asked to call the Clovis Police Department at (505) 769-1921. Mike Boring, the district attorney for the Oklahoma Panhandle, told FOX News around 3:45 p.m. EST that officials are "very thrilled" with the outcome of the case.


But Boring noted that the investigation is ongoing and urged anyone with information on who could have taken Marissa to contact the police. "We are looking for, what we believe to be one individual but we're not exactly sure," he said. "We just are very anxious to get the person responsible for this, or person." Police said Marissa was found in Clovis — about four hours from where she was taken. Boring said there are no indications that she was harmed in any way and that she spoke to her parents over the phone after she was found. "It's been a fantastic day," Boring said, adding that Marissa is "extremely lucky" to have had "the sense and sensibility to get in a public place with people." But, he added: "At this point, we have no indication to the 'why's or 'who. Young miss Marrisa's kidnapper has yet to be captured, however she returned home Sunday January 21st, 2007 with her family after being released from questioning by the (FBI) Federal Bureau of Investigation.  Miss Marrisa has been training in the martial art and sport of Muay Thai also known as Thai Boxing for about three months before this incident occurred. She has also trained in the martial art of Kempo Karate.


Mr. Christopher Graham Marrisa’s father, gave permission to the USMTA to write about the incident stating that, the family wants to make sure this doesn't happen to anyone else.


Muay Thai instructor Kru Ric Sniffen a National Director of the USMTA and  proud member  of the 'Blackfoot' nation said,  "Marrisa is a TRUE CHAMPION, and will be honored as one at the "Night of Champions" event in Guymon, Oklahoma on Saturday March 10th, 2007 where she will be presented with awards from both the USMTA Senior. Vice President James " Thunderfoot " Pruitt and myself."Kru James Pruitt is not only a proud member of the 'Creek' nation, but is also a three time  United States Muay Thai Champion and a Muay Thai Instructor in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Young Marrisa was greeted home with a small celebration on Sunday January 21, 2007 at 9:00 pm at the Texhoma Community Center.


Kru Ric Sniffen said that her first question to him was, "Can I return to my Muay Thai class on Tuesday? "  This would  have been January 23, 2007". 

Kru Ric Sniffen stated that,  "If we can help one child with our knowledge of Muay Thai and the martial arts in general escape from being harmed, we've done our job.  He stated that, "I told my assistant coaches they all deserve a pat on the back and a " Good Job "  for this one". Michael Graham, Marrisa's uncle and an AssistantCoach for the Pontawee  Muay Thai Camp had asked me and I quote " why do we deserve a pat on the back and a good job! what did we do? " I told him, without the coaching staff nobody learns anything. Only through the Instructors and Coaches is the Art of Muay Thai  passed on to the students. Its easy for a Chief Instructor to take all the credit,  but I give the credit to 'ALL' those who deserve it, not just myself but my staff and  the teachers who were kind enough to teach me in order to pass on the martial art and sport of Muay Thai and Muay Chao Cherk.

President of the USMTA Arjarn Clint Heyliger in New York who has been following the story closely has sent his best wishes to Marissa and her family via  the USMTA  State representatives, for  her bravery expressing his pride in knowing a member school of the association and her family has had a happy  outcome from such a stressful dilemma. He stated,  "We are all one big family  in the USMTA,  no matter how far away we are. Everything to do with a member, a school and a student is important to us. Just like 9/11 in New York where members of the association joined  ranks with others from the City and dug in at 'Ground Zero', emergencies such as what happened to Marissa  is just as nerve wracking, just as stressful and just as important until it is resolved.

President Heyliger also stated that he hopes this incident will spur more parents to enroll their children into martial art programs and martial art schools such as the Pontawee Camp USA, and advises that they contact Kru Ric Sniffen on any suggestions for children in his area.  He stated that "The USMTA will be looking into incorporating the Amber Alerts system into their website, as well as reviewing other methods to assist parents who may want to include their children into Muay Thai programs throughout the different states. Many children as young as 6 or 7 years old begin some form of training in the sport with the correct guidance of qualified instructors in New York and on the East coast."  Muay Thai is definitely not a difficult martial art for children of all ages to learn and has some excellent benefits.

Amber Alerts, named for Amber Hagerman, a 9-year-old girl that was killed in Texas in 1996, are supposed to be limited to cases in which authorities confirm a child has been abducted and faces serious danger.


© USMTA Inc. All rights reserved. Revised: January 04, 2015