Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Dian Fossey Life and Death

'A Perfect Ending'

Dian Fossey's burial
Dian Fossey's burial

Some scientists who had worked and argued with Fossey were less than gracious in their reactions to the murder.

Bill Weber, whose Mountain Gorilla Project was viewed by Fossey as competition, said: "She didn't get killed because she was saving gorillas. She got killed because she was behaving like Dian Fossey."

And Kelly Stewart said, "She viewed herself as this warrior fighting an enemy who was out to get her. It was a perfect ending. She got what she wanted."

Even Jane Goodall managed a snipe, saying, "I tried so hard to persuade Dian to involve the local people in her project and she wouldn't." Asked whether Fossey had an adversarial relationship with natives, Goodall answered, "Yes, that's why she died, I'm sure. She felt that if the Africans got close to the gorillas the way she was, the gorillas would then be more vulnerable to poachers."

Fossey was buried in her gorilla graveyard on the final day of 1985.

Dian Fossey burial plaque
Dian Fossey burial plaque

Her initial gravemarker was identical to those of the gorillas who lay buried around her: a simple wooden placard painted with the name "Dian." Later, someone added a more permanent marker:

Dian Fossey 1932-1985

No one loved gorillas more

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