Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Today in Crime History: Deborah Gardner’s killer walks

On June 18, 2005, New York prosecutors decided not to retry Dennis Priven for the 1976 murder of Peace Corps volunteer Deborah Gardner in Tonga, saying, “We do not believe this case can be prosecuted by anyone, not only us, but in any other jurisdiction in the United States.” Priven had been found not guilty by reason of insanity in Tonga, and was able to avoid treatment and incarceration in both countries.

Murder in the Peace Corps

On Election Day, 1976, a press notification went out two weeks late about the brutal murder of a beautiful young Peace Corps worker, Debroah Gardner. The story was buried. Deborah had named her killer with her dying breath, but, with little media attention and the power of the United States behind him, he never served a day in jail.

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