Update on the effort to bring the murderer (s) of Kate Puzey to Justice

Kate Puzey was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Benin who was found brutally murdered in her village, in March 2009.  It has been alleged that she was murdered because she complained to her Peace Corps Director that a teacher, associated with the Peace Corps, had been sexually exploiting his students.That person as well as his brother are among suspects who have been in prison for five years in Benin, but there is not sufficient evidence to bring any one to trial.

In March of 2014, Congress wrote to the F.B.I., the State Department, and the Inspector General of the Peace Corps requesting greater collaboration among the three in solving the case.To read John Coyne’s review of this request and the history of Kate Puzey, here is the link: https://peacecorpsworldwide.org/congress-2/

Here is the link: to read the Congressional request: http://www.peacecorpsconnect.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/2014_Puzey_Investigation_DearColleague.pdf

In that letter, there is reference to the collaboration between the three Agencies which resulted in ultimately solving the murder of a Volunteer in Gabon.

From the letter:

“In 1998, another Peace Corps Volunteer in Gabon, Karen Phillips, was also found murdered, and for 14 years the investigation was also stalled. However in late 2012, with facilitation from the Ambassador to Gabon, the Peace Corps Office of lnspector General, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service came to Gabon to assist the Gabonese judicial police in the reinvestigation of Karen Phillips’ murder. Thanks to this help from the United States, after 14 years of delay, the murder was finally solved in under a month. In November 2013 a Gabonese criminal court sentenced the offender to life in prison for Phillips’ murder.”

Inspector General of the Peace Corps Kathy Buller refers to that collaboration in her reply to Congress.  Here is her letter:

May 1, 2014

Representative Ted Poe

2412 Rayburn Building

Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Congressman Poe:

Thank you for your letter dated April 3, 2014. The Peace Corps Office of Inspector General (OIG) has been actively investigating the circumstances surrounding Kate Puzey’s murder since 2009, and the investigation is a top priority for my office. OIG, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service (DS) held a case coordination meeting in late April 2014 to collaboratively develop a comprehensive plan that advances our shared objective of resolving the murder.

I agree that the Karen Phillips investigation provides a compelling template on how we can maximize our investigative efforts in the Puzey case. In Gabon, my investigators, and those of the FBI and DS, were permitted by the host nation to work in “dynamic collaboration” with Gabonese officers as an integrated team, unencumbered by time-consuming and overly formalistic protocols. I am confident that our partners will embrace this approach moving forward.

Our case agent, who was also our lead investigator on the Phillips case, is a forensic expert with over twenty years’ experience conducting death investigations. We look forward to over twenty years’ experience conducting death investigations. We look forward to leveraging the FBI’s and DS’ formidable capabilities to assemble a strong investigative team, working seamlessly with our Beninese counterparts, to finally bring justice for Kate Puzey and her family.


Kathy A. Buller

Inspector General

Representative Poe was one of the chief sponsors of the Kate Puzey Peace Corps Volunteer Protection Act of 2011.

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