Poirier disappearance

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Bolivia: PCOL Exclusive: Missing PCV Walter Poirier III (Bolivia) : Special Report: Missing Peace Corps Volunteer Walter Poirier III: June 25, 2004: Headlines: COS - Bolivia: Safety and Security of Volunteers: Dayton Daily News: Peace Corps will appoint an investigator to look into the disappearance of the son of Leominster Chief Assessor Walter R. Poirier : Poirier disappearance

By Teresa Kaltenbacher (ca12-ch01-bl03.mo-stlouis0.sa.earthlink.net - on Thursday, July 01, 2004 - 10:29 am: Edit Post

We are both shocked and dismayed that it has taken Peace Corps three years to appoint an investigator to look into Walter's disappearance. Had this been done immediately there would be a much greater chance of finding out what happened to him. When Walter disappeared, we assumed and took it for granted that Peace Corps took this minimal action. Would P.C. have waited 3 years if it was a full-time staff member who disappeared? As it stands at this point, this will end up being a P.C. boondoggle for the investigator as so much time has passed, although we hope this will provide closure to his parents.

By Investigations ( - on Thursday, July 01, 2004 - 11:10 am: Edit Post

The FBI investigated. Wouldn't it be reasonable for PC to believe FBI investigation methods, which make use of local resources and people, would be the best response? I just don't understand why anyone would be "shocked and dismayed" that a government agency didn't hire a private investigator when the FBI was handling the case. What am I missing here? Why would a PI be more successful than FBI agents utilizing local assets?

By daniel (0-1pool112-24.nas6.somerville1.ma.us.da.qwest.net - on Friday, July 02, 2004 - 7:24 am: Edit Post


Thank you for your thoughts. I believe the same as you. I was very upset too. I posted the website on volunteer's who died or killed in service during that period. I knew from my own experience, they PC would not do much. It depressed me that I could not do much more than post that web site and advocate with local congressmen here in Massahusetts.

It is a shame.

Teresa, the posting above "Investigations" is a former staff person of Peace Corps. He or she has never understood that the safety issue. They were involved during the 1990's and did not speak out within the agency for better safe guards. Teresa, you posted your name and I do too. These former staff people don't look at their inaction as neglectful or capricious. They try to dish the resposibility off to the FBI.

Martin Meehan, the Congressman from Mass. has done alot to make this private Investigation happen. Mr. Poirier himself has made this happen too. I really feel for his family. If you are reading this Mr. Poirier, I don't know what to say except our prayers are with you and your family.

Here is hypothetical so it is not so personal. Looking at an investigation from an objective point of view, I would have done the following. First, I would have pulled aid to that country until a true explanation came forth. Is that idealistic. No. It has been done before in hostage and diplomatic pressure. Number two, if I was one of the Massachusetts Senators I would have used my position in committee seat draw attention to the case to get it resolved. A given Senator could have done alot of things. I am glad Mike Dewine and Senator Voinvich and Henry Hyde have seen the value in changing the future. We should have had many interpreters from a given country with language skills involved. How much did that happen in the FBI investigation?

Private investigators aren't considered the police or army in a given country. Private citizens would provide more information.
They should have had both type of investigations going on simutaneously.

As a US Senator from Massachusetts, I would have called for hearings and did call for them at the time the week of his disppearance. Especially, when a Senator knows there are many cases from his state that had safety issues that were covered up before. For example, this has been a reality.

However, The Senator should have shown up the Peace Corps director by placing his own money down for the investigation to provide an example. Why, for example, our Senator here in Massachusetts wrote a homeless vet a check for $10,000 on his Presidential campaign in Portsmouth NH during the primary. If I was running for President, I would have provided money to this on-going investigation.

Also, part of the Peace Corps budget should have gone for this investigation from the start and you are right Teresa. I valid your posting.

Good to hear from you,


By Investigations ( - on Friday, July 02, 2004 - 6:24 pm: Edit Post

Daniel -

I see you haven't changed or learned much this past year ... In short, PC wasn't foisting off responsibility to the FBI. Investigating these types of crimes IS the responsibility of the FBI. It's reasonable for PC to have cooperated with the FBI and to then learn the results. As for hiring a private PI, my only question is "would that have been more effective?". If so, I would say definitley do it. If the FBI recommended this, PC should have done so and would be open to legitimate criticism.

Also, I'll remind you again of my RPCV and S&S background, as you seem to have a very selective memory. I'm both a former staff member and an RPCV. I have experienced a variety of safety and security incidents overseas, from pickpocketing to deadly assault to national emergencies. These have happened to me and to my volunteers and staff. And I can assure you that I and my staff placed #1 priority on safety and security and proactively and substantially did more to improve safety and security support at our posts than those content with complaining. Safety and security improved under my watch, resulting in significant drops in both simple and aggravated incidents. Taking a harder line on risky behavior from PCVs and staff also contributed to improved safety, which in turn resulted in a moderate rise in non-voluntary terminations. This is the case for the vast majority of staff.

(But we do need to systemize support in a more effective manner and to do a better job weeding out incompetent staff. I'll give you that much.)

In your head, I'm sure you think you've actually accomplished something regarding safety and security. However, improvements continue to be made despite your "tilting at wind mills". The ombudsman and IG measures were developed by others and supported and promoted by many staff, former staff and volunteers from within and outside the organization. You'll notice that your only potentially original proposal of mandatory pairing of PCVs has very little support from PCVs, staff and congress and for good reason (simply refer to relevant posts for the rationale).

By daniel (user-uinj4qj.dialup.mindspring.com - on Friday, July 02, 2004 - 10:40 pm: Edit Post

The Wind mill remark is the same as usual. Despite what you think, your staff did not do enough in terms of lobbying the hill. Others did that, and you know it. The fact that you and your staff friends did a whole lot for safety and security is up for debate. It is not about credit.

Its about being fair human beings on actual incidents. I would like to hold you accountable for the comments you have made on this web site, but I don't know your actual record. I also don't know you on this web site. I may know who you are personally, but that is your choice to remain AKA. What I do know is the staff during your period were doing the same old things they did during the mid nineties until 2002, when the heavy public pressure, congressional pressure and then finally the DDN was able to put it on the national table for you folks to "chew on".

What is unfortunate in your anger, toward "outside Peace Corps people" putting pressure on you and your staff friends is that you have not had RPCV's who have really gone through these situations in, for real discussions about these issues. You listen to yourselves. Instead, some of you folks act in an elitist fashion. Take for example, your friend Carol Bellamy. She had her chance.

What is really ironic is Senator Dodd, who you know was not on the side of pairing of volunteers, actually brought it up in the debate in the Senate Debate. I wonder where he got the those "fanciful ideas". I am glad Janice and himself have finally seen the possible rationale in the logic. Who really cares if I won or lost my debate? Obvoiusly, some feel it is very important. What is important is that Peace Corps staff both in country and in washington have discussed it and volunteers and families, now may have a choice in the planning of their site security situation.

What is really important is that the perpetrators of violence don't have a window of opportunity. That is the prevention we all seek including I believe, yourself.

You just don't know how former volunteers have transformed the legislative changes that have taken shape. It has come from alot of people, former staff like yourself and separated veterans. As former Peace Corps people, despite some of the "nasty" tricks that have occured over this issue, volunteers in the future will benefit reagardless.

I have done what I could. What is unfortunate and will continue to plague Peace Corps is the "truth" about our experiences who have been wronged and have to live with people who listen to gossip and untruths about our cases. What is unfortunate are the careers that have been hurt from discrimination in these cases. And you know that is true. That is why folks like you go after people who speak out.

I think of the thugs who came to my site, organized and Peace Corps people like yourself.
I did not see you asking for the FBI back then, or during Clinton or your time during your time with interim director under Bush. These terror thugs are still doing the same rubbish they tried to do to me. Just remember, I am older and have resources now.

All the best on the patriotic fourth,


By Daniel (user-uinj4qj.dialup.mindspring.com - on Friday, July 02, 2004 - 10:45 pm: Edit Post

Sorry, about the above discussion.

Walter Poirier is the most important part of this discussion and I hope he is found. I will be thinkin of him and his family during the fourth.


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