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New book revisits death of volunteer in Tonga

Federal Way-WA, USA

Dear Editor,

I saw a story in the May 31 edition of the Tacoma News Tribune. The story was headlined "Violent death, no justice for Peace Corps volunteer". The story written by TNT reporter Les Blumenthal revisits the stabbing death of Peace Corps Volunteer Deborah Gardner in 1976 in Tonga. The case has resurfaced in a book "American Taboo,'' written by Philip Weiss.

The man accused of the killing, Dennis Priven, was found not guilty by reason of insanity at the time of the slaying. Priven according to the article was released to Peace Corps Officials, after a written assurance from a US embassy official that he would be committed, either voluntarily or involuntarily, to a mental hospital in the United States, according to the book.

After two days in a Sibley Hospital in Washington DC, Priven was allowed to check out after a psychiatrist there found no evidence of schizophrenia.

Priven worked for the social security administration before retiring from his $78,000 a year job last year. He turned 52 last Friday.

Mike Lane
Former US Peace Corps Volunteer in Tonga
Federal Way, WA