Tonga

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Remembering the murder of PCV Deborah Gardner (Tonga)
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The Murder of Deborah Gardner (Tonga)

Remembering the murder of PCV Deborah Gardner (Tonga)

In the late Nineties, shortly after I had taken over the job of manager of the New York Recruitment Office for the Peace Corps, I got a call from a reporter at the New York Observer newspaper. I thought he was calling to ask me about the Peace Corps and to write an article about the agency. Well, in a way he was, but he started by asking if I knew anything about the murder of a young woman in Tonga in 1975. The reporter’s name was Philip Weiss and he didn’t realized he had stumbled on an RPCV who was fascinated by the history of the Peace Corps and obsessively collected PCV stories. Phil Weiss was also obsessed, but by the murder of this PCV in Tongo. In 1978, when he was 22 and backpacking around the world, he had crashed with a Peace Corps Volunteer in Samoa named . . .

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The Murder of Deborah Gardner (Tonga)

The murder of Deborah Gardner in 1976 in Tonga still haunts the Peace Corps agency and particularly those who were in Tonga during this terrible time when the agency did not do justice to one of their own. I have written about this murder several times over the years and Jan Worth Nelson (Tonga 1976-78) wrote the 2006 novel Night Blind based on the murder. She alerted me to the recent documentary. It is part of a series called “Passport to Murder” produced for Discovery ID TV. The  segment on Deborah Gardner was entitled “The Devil in Paradise.” It was aired on July 29, 2016. Jan, who was interviewed for the segment wrote me after it aired, “I have come to believe there probably isn’t any closure to be had.  But unlike Emile Hons (Tonga 1974-76), I didn’t really know her AND, most importantly, I didn’t walk into that cursed hut to . . .

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