Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Murder in the Peace Corps

Dinner Date

Dennis Priven
Dennis Priven

Priven joined the long queue of Gardner's suitors. None was clumsier.

His courting technique amounted to stalking.

On many days, he would rush to Gardner's school after finishing his own teaching duties at Tupou. He would loiter there, waiting for Gardner so he could escort her home.

She began to stay late in her classroom or slip out a side door to avoid him. Priven's visits became so bothersome that the school's principal asked him to stay away.

He would also bide time at the Peace Corps office in Nuku'alofa, where volunteers would go to pick up mail, hoping that Gardner would stop by.

Both Priven and Gardner spoke with Peace Corps friends about one another. Gardner wanted to know how she could get rid of her spooky admirer, and Priven sought advice on how to properly express his affection.

Finally, in September 1976, Gardner agreed to have dinner at Priven's home.

He prepared a candlelit mealway over the top for a first date with a woman of Gardner's sensibilities. The date was a bust, but Priven was oblivious.

Gardner had become his obsession.

He monitored her comings and goings and would seethe when she was with another man. For no valid reason, he seemed to view her as his personal possession.

Friends and Peace Corps administrators became concerned about his mental well-being. He saw a doctor and was prescribed Darvon.

Gardner began avoiding Priven ever more earnestly and pressed for a transfer to Ha'apai, far from her relentless pursuer.

 

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