this is "nightline." tonight, american killed. 26 year old arizona native kayla mueller confirmed dead a year after being taken hostage in syria. the emotional reaction from her family tonight and new details she sent home. was she forced to be an isis bride? >> speed riders. is this pair gliding? we're taking a breath-taking mission to conquer a new sport. but it's dangerous. what happen when is one professional stunt man takes a leap that could change his life. gone to the oscars. first she was a bond girl then she was
female hostage in syria confirmed dead. she may have been forced to be a bride to an isis commander. now kayla mueller is being described as a humanitarian and her heartbreaking letter to home is shared. >> kayla has touched the heart of the world. the world grieves with us. the world mourns with us. >> reporter: there are no words for such loss but today loved ones tried. >> the world wants to be more like kayla. >> reporter: an outpouring of heartache for 26 year old kayla mueller, the aid worker turned hostage whose death was confirmed after her parents received proof directly from isis. >> she has done more in her incredible 26 years than many people can imagine doing in their lifetime. >> reporter: her aunt and best friend talking about the kayla they knew. >> kayla was my closest friend,
my kindred spirit. i'm going to miss her more deeply than words can express. >> reporter: isis says they did not kill kayla mueller, that she was killed by a jordanian air strike. >> they held her hostage, they held her in captivity, and isis is the one responsible for her death. >> reporter: her family wants to remember her with images from happyier times. just the thought of you, she wrote, sends me to a fit of tears. if you could say i suffered at all during this experience it is knowing the suffering i have put you all through. as news emerged about her death details about her life in captivity emerged. they believe she was given to a senior isis leader as a bride of sorts, a reward. kayla went to turkey in 2012,
heartbroken after seeing images like this of the conflict in syria, and determined to help those syrian refugees powering into the neighboring country. >> kayla had such great empathy. and it's hard to find that in this world. >> kayla saw stuff in palestine. she saw stuff when she was in india. and for that matter israel too that compelled her to return. >> reporter: by august 2013, she had traveled into syria. >> i am in solidarity with the syrian people. i reject the brutality and killing that the syrian authorities are committing against the syrian people. >> reporter: she was kidnapped by the militant group isis while leaving a doctors without borders hospital. this is the same group that's executed three american captives james foley, peter kassig and >> i think we held out hope
because kayla mueller was a woman, that perhaps we wouldn't see isis undertake the type of killings that they've done with the male hostages, that that would be a line that they would not cross. but obviously they did not recognize any boundary to their violence. >> reporter: tonight clues about her captivity kayla writing i am in a safe location completely unharmed and healthy. i've been treated with the utmost respect and kindness. >> there's more work to be done to determine whether this letter was written by her own volition. >> reporter: that letter received last may was the last time kayla mueller's parents heard from their daughter. three months later, isis demanded a $6.6 million ransom for her release and accompanying it with a death threat. unknown to them, the u.s. was plotting to get her out. as isis's war spread through syria. the u.s. sent in a secret envoy to visit their base camp.
kayla knew nothing and denied having a husband. >> she is a christian, as devout as she was, she would have said no, i'm not lying. >> reporter: unknowingly foiling an attempt at her freedom. >> any opportunity that existed to carry out a rescue attempt, that type of opportunity would be taken advantage of. >> reporter: so like the mother of james foley, some wonder whether america did enough to save the hostages. >> i don't feel like the americans have been the priority that they desever as american citizens, so something needs to be changed. our government should care about the best of their american citizens. >> reporter: in an interview with buzz feed news today, president obama responding to criticism over the u.s. government's no-ransom policy. >> it is a policy of not paying ransoms with an organization
like isil. and the reason is that once we start doing that not only are we financing their slaughter of innocent people and strengthening their organization, but we're actually making americans even greater targets for future kidnappings. >> reporter: it's a pivotal moment in this conflict. a record 20,000 fighters are streaming to iraq and syria to join isis as international backlash heats up. >> in the near term i think you will see more air strikes targeting isis leadership and more resources being put into this fight. i think this kind of violence only serves to backfire against isis. >> reporter: for the longest time, family and friends kept quiet about kayla mueller's captivity, in hopes she might one day come home. today hope gave way to heartbreak. >> i'm not yet sure how to live in a world without kayla. but i do know that we're all living in a better world because
of her. >> in kayla's letter to marsha and carl she wrote, i have come to see that there is good in every situation. sometimes we just have to look for it. and right now, that's what we're all trying to do. >> reporter: they are not alone. for "nightline," i'm byron pitts in new york. >> and our thoughts go out to her family tonight. our thanks to byron pitts. up next, a professional stunt man aims to take flight in real life thanks to a dangerous new sport. and later rosamund pike reveals the painful truth about the violence in gone girl. every minute between you and red lobster's lobsterfest feels like an eternity. and who could blame you for craving our largest variety of succulent lobster dishes all year? dishes like dueling lobster tails. with one tail topped with creamy shrimp and a second tail stuffed with tender crab. i was hungry already and now you show me lobster lover's dream® let's make this dream a reality.
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here's gloria riviera. >> reporter: here in the skies above the frozen wilds -- >> we are on the snowfields. >> reporter: a handful of dare devils are breaking the boundaries. passion and pure grace collide. >> it is a perfect blend of big mountain skiing and high performance parachute flying, and what it does is allows people like myself to go to terrain and do lines that were never thought rideable before because they closed out in big crevasses or big cliffs. >> reporter: it drives these athletes into the air. >> the limit to how far they're willing to go is pretty endless. >> woo! >> reporter: of the handful who are spearheading this new extreme sport, john devore might
be the most fanatical. like many dangerous adrenaline-based sports speed ride something a mix of precision and a taste of fear. >> if you don't have fear that inner animal's going to come out and probably make you make decisions that are bad. i'm constantly mentally checking myself. >> reporter: he's taking us deep into utah's back country, part of his red bull team taking us for a ride in a helicopter. but on the way up, there are two concerns. first, the wind. >> wind's not an enemy, unless it's at your back. >> reporter: and clouds. >> we want to be able to see the terrain pretty good. we're traveling at 50 60 miles per hour. you don't want to be at flat and then all of a sudden some roller comes in. >> reporter: we checked in to high ivory. pretty steep drop to try to get enough speed to get his wing inflated. >> this wind comes right over the top. >> reporter: veteran guides are
on safety patrol checking the line john will take for rocks, trees, and measuring wind speed. how many variables are we talking about out here? that's a question that makes these guys laugh. at the break neck speeds john can reach it's important nothing is taken for granted. any miscalculation can spell disaster. john's gear is a precision, custom-rigged harness built for speed and safety. >> that looks comfortable. >> reporter: he has a canopy the parachute. >> it's eight meters really small, much more of a ferrari. >> reporter: the visibility seems okay but the wind not ideal. how do you feel about the winds right now? >> they're pretty light. with how light they are, as soon as i drop off the ridge it's going to be good. >> reporter: light winds mean fewer cross winds that can slam him into the mountain but can demand more finesse. but he has another warning. >> make sure that if for some
reason you don't get any air under your feet, just be light, try to be as light as you can, because there are some rocks. we don't have a real deep snowpack yet. >> got you. >> reporter: the lack of good wind causes trouble. >> i hit a massive rock. i can feel my knee for a second. it feels really weird. >> reporter: john's dropped below a ridge. we can see him. >> just his head. >> he tweaked his knee just a little bit on a rock. >> reporter: he takes off a second time. but then -- >> i hate to say it but i think i may have blew my acl. i can't stand up without my knee flying sideways. >> reporter: immediately he skis down to john radioing back to confirm. they've made a call to get john in the helicopter, because his left knee is too weak for him to make it any further down. john is a career stunt man, in
movies like iron man three and transformers three. surprisingly, this is his first injury. >> i'm not afraid of death. my mom blames me for all her gray hairs. my wife's a mess every time i go on a trip. >> reporter: in a new documentary on tv, john faced that fear head on stalling out on a ledge between two crevasse crevasses. >> i was in uncharted territory kind of. my heart was just racing. >> reporter: in many ways, that's the point. >> there is a fine balance of pushing and pushing too far. and are' never going to know what's possible if you don't try the unknown. >> reporter: but he's not about to let his bum knee hold us back. so invested is he in introducing the world to speed riding. >> a lot of people think we're yahoo dare devils.
>> reporter: back up top, the wind a potential nemesis. without the wind, how are you going to fly? >> ski faes.st. >> reporter: and he does. >> touches back down. >> reporter: that was beautiful. that was amazing. for an even closer look, we ski down. that's a good day at the office. >> woo! >> reporter: what more can you ask for? that was beautiful. just a slight touchdown here and he took off like a bird. while it may seem that these riders live to push the limit ask them what's most important, and they say safety. ask john why he does it his answer might surprise you. >> some people might go to a shrink and talk to a doctor, but for me when i get out into the air, that's my meditation. that's my air therapy. >> reporter: therapy then over the rush found in untouched skies. >> guess who's going to stay
home with you guys. >> reporter: for "nightline," i'm gloria riviera in utah. up next rosamund pike may inflict pain in "gone girl," but you won't find her stabbing anyone in the back in this oscar season. she opens up about the unlikely sister hood between fellow nominees. abc "nightline" brought to you by macy's.
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rosamunde pike tells us about her performance as amazing amy. warning, it is graphic and there are spoilers ahead. >> i don't want to be without you. stay with me. >> reporter: it's the climactic scene in one of the most talked-about movies of the year. the "gone girl," rosamunde pike taking a box cutter to her doomed lover, neil patrick harris, and it took more than 30 takes before they were satisfied. >> i was saying, did i protect him, yes you were like a little bloody piece. >> reporter: it's the story of a sugary sweet romance, turning bitter that's when pregnant amy goes missing from her storybook life. >> you don't know your wife's blood type? >> reporter: pike it seems is an overnight sensation almost 15 years in the making.
the oxford educated actress got herself into strong physical shape. she hit her hard so hard she literally saw stars. >> [ bleep ] [ bleep ]. >> i think one of the takes they use is when ben really hit me hard. and that anger that's spontaneous anger, because you hurt me, and you do, you punch back. you feel it coming. you think, great, i can ride this one. >> reporter: famed director david fincher picked pike for the coveted role. but pike says the oscar competition isn't as cut throat as, say, her sword threat to the death scene with halle berry. >> there's one thing being in the race it doesn't feel competitive. i saw a sweet posting on her instagram. and it feels like a nice club in a way.
>> reporter: pike says bond girl status pigeonholed her for a while, playing parts like a sister in pride and prejudice, or the prosecutor. >> why would anyone set you up? >> reporter: but from tom cruise to ben affleck she more than holds her own on the silver screen. >> much was made about the fact that your male counterparts showed more private parts than you did. >> i think it's about time. i think it's about time. generally speaking in movies you're like okay, the girl is undressed and the guy is wearing a tee shirt, are you kidding me? >> reporter: fully clothed, pike has been killing it on the red carpet though some question her daring fashion choice weeks after giving birth to her second child. some people are like she's so thin. >> no, it's the complete reverse. you've got to take that knife
out and start slashing. >> reporter: the oscars will air february 22 at 7:00 eastern here on abc. tune in to good morning america tomorrow, and as always we're always online. good goodnight, america. [dramatic music] ♪ ♪ >> yeah! hey! [cheers and applause] i'm terry crews, and i've got a whole lot of cash to give away today here on millionaire. [cheers and applause] our first contestant has a few dance moves
up his sleeve. not only has he perfected the two-step, but he's only 14 steps away from winning $1 million. from durham, north carolina, please welcome mark ambrose! [cheers and applause] hey. how are you, sir? how you doing? come on in here. now, i hear you are an environmentalist who has a mean two-step. >> well, two-stepping is one dance that i do but my real passion is for western square dancing. >> oh, my goodness. wait, wait that's your real passion. >> yes. >> so you got more than one passion on the dance floor. >> absolutely. >> okay, well, you promise when you win some huge money are you gonna show me some of the moves? >> sure will. >> all right. well, let's get right into it. here is the millionaire money tree, 14 questions spread over 2 rounds with money values going from 100 bucks all the way up to $1 million. >> yes! >> yes. [applause] round 1 has 10 questions