The Disappearance and Death of Dave Walker
A History
Page 4. The Investigation Part 1

Go to home page




Dave WalkerDave Walker had been a close friend of mine since 1991 when he was first introduced to me by Canadian filmmaker Peter Lynch at a lunch one day in the BamBoo Club on Queen Street West in Toronto.  Dave had been working for Lynch as a consultant and fixer on a documentary project Lynch was developing to be shot in Cambodia based on on Brian Fawcett's book Cambodia: A Book For People Who Find Television Too Slow.

Dave and I had similar service backgrounds and  investigative adventures but on opposite continents.  I was working frequently in Russia and was on my way to an assignment on an investigative documentary report about nuclear weapons material smuggling that would take me undercover into the break-away Caucasus republic of Chechnya. Dave had served briefly as a Toronto Police constable and later joined the British Army and had been stationed in Belfast, Northern Ireland during 'The Troubles' where he saw combat against the IRA in a controversial special urban reconnaissance unit trained by and seconded to the SAS.

After his term of enlistment ended, Dave returned to Canada as a private investigator and eventually began travelling to S.E. Asia on assignments and while in Canada advising CSIS (Canadian Security Intelligence Service) on Khmer Rouge genocide perpetrators infiltrating among Cambodian refugees coming to Canada in the 1980s. 

We obviously had lots to talk about and over the next twenty-three years Dave and I formed a close friendship and sometimes worked as colleagues. I considered him among my closest friends, a brother that I never had.  That is how I came to be personally involved in the search for Dave Walker.

"Sounds very weird that he disappeared entirely."

The news of Dave Walker’s mysterious disappearance on Friday February 14 reached me here in Toronto Canada early morning Monday February 17 with a Facebook message message from Richard Ehrlich, Dave Walker’s former collaborator on a book they co-edited Hello My Big Big Honey: Love Letters to Bangkok Bar Girls and Their Interviews. The message was sent at 3:37 a.m. Toronto time, or 3:37 P.M. Cambodia time Monday. I quickly learned  Cambodia is twelve hours in the future from Toronto.

Ehrlich wrote:

Sorry to post sad news about Dave Walker here in your Facebook messenger box, but you will surely want to know what happened to him.

Dave was living for the past several months based in Seim Reap, Cambodia, in a guest house.

I just now spoke with Dave Walker's Cambodian friend, Sonny, who says there are still no leads on Dave's disappearance on Friday, February 14th, 2014, in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

Sonny says he went to see Dave on February 14th at Dave's guest house in Siem Reap at about 8 p.m.

Dave's mobile phone was charging, his laptop was on in sleep mode, and his Canadian passport and luggage was in the room.

Sonny told me that the hotel staff says their hotel girl went to clean Dave's room earlier on the 14th, at about 2 p.m., so Dave told the girl that he would go out to allow her to clean the room more easily.

Dave left the hotel with a bottle of water at that time, and disappeared.

Sonny says he has repeatedly contacted Siem Reap's police, Immigration, main hospitals etc.

Sonny has been a media assistant for foreign correspondents in Siem Reap over the past several years, speaks excellent English, and is Dave's partner on their film script writing projects.

Sonny is also co-owner of Dave's would-be farm, which which is about two hours on a dirt road from Siem Reap, and their film script enterprise known as Animist Farm Films.

When I spoke with Sonny by phone today, Monday February 17 at about 1 p.m., Sonny was in Siem Reap still asking officials and other people for any information.

Sonny told me that because Siem Reap is such a small town, if anything happens to any foreigner, then people quickly will know about it.

But no one had heard anything about Dave's disappearance.

It all sounds very grim, but it also sounds very weird that he disappeared entirely.



P.S. If you would like to be included on my group e-mail updates about Dave, please *e-mail your address* to me at:

Trying to report Dave missing to the Canadian government

That morning as soon as government offices opened, I telephoned Foreign Affairs in Ottawa and got through to the case manager for consul affairs in South East Asia, Jean-François Parizeau, Consular Case Management Officer, Case Management Division | Telephone 613-944-3307| Fax 613-996-5358, Lester B. Pearson Tower, # B3-113, 125 Sussex Drive, Ottawa, ON, K1A 0G2| Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada| Government of Canada EMAIL: Because I was the sponsor of a previous passport that Dave Walker held, using my own passport data, Parizeau was able to positively identify which Dave Walker of many I was referring to. Parizeau was able to call up Dave Walker’s identifier on his computer screen as we spoke using my data. He informed me that the Canadian Embassy in Thailand had received no notification at that time of Dave Walker being reported missing. As our conversation was taking place at approximately Monday morning 11:00 AM in Toronto, that would mean that it was already 11:00 PM Monday night in Cambodia-Thailand, and Foreign Affairs still had no official notice or alert posted on their database-communication network of Dave Walker’s mysterious disappearance on Friday.

I was informed by Parizeau that Foreign Affairs will “look into” my report, but that as I am not a family member, they will be unable to follow-up with me further for reasons of Dave Walker’s "privacy."  Mr. Parizeau also suggested I file a report with the RCMP.

My next call that morning was to the RCMP which took my call, filed it, and stated that since this was in Cambodian territory there was nothing further they can do until Cambodian authorities or the Foreign Affairs Ministry get in touch with them.

My third call was to Dave Walker’s desk officer at CSIS-Canadian Security Intelligence Service—the Canadian version of MI5. (We have no foreign intelligence agency like the CIA or MI6.) In the 1990s I had met Dave's CSIS desk officer and had a phone number.  When I called it I was informed that the officer had retired but the desk was still active and the new officer took my report and assured me that they would “walk it downstairs”, which I took to mean they would take it to a CSIS C&C Center. I had apprised them of the unusual circumstances of Walker's disappearance and that I was aware he was an asset of theirs and explained who I was.

"that's terrible. Please Keep me updated."

I then proceeded to scan Dave Walker's Facebook Page. I knew he had relatives in Edmonton and I identified a cousin:  Tammy Madon. When I contacted her in the afternoon, she had not heard that Dave had disappeared.  Her response was "that's terrible. Please Keep me updated."

I urged her to immediately file an official family report with Foreign Affairs, which she did in the late afternoon of Monday, February 17. At that point I believe Dave Walker’s disappearance became an “official” report from the family. The time in Cambodia was now approximately 5:00 AM Tuesday February 18. I believe that later on Tuesday the Canadian Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand, first contacted the Australian Embassy in Cambodia (Canada no longer has any embassy or consulate in Cambodia and Canada is represented there by Australia) and the Cambodian authorities directly, to alert them of Dave Walker’s strange disappearance. The investigation of his disappearance would be "handled" by the Canadian government out of the Canadian Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand, a distance of approximately 400km from Siem Reap across the border.

In a telephone conversation, Tammy Madon informed me that she was Dave Walker's official next-of-kin and that she had been assigned "power of attorney" by Dave in November 2012 on his last trip to Canada .  This had been a last minute decision by Dave as previously Dave's former wife Praiwan had held it. 

Dave and Praiwan had divorced in the mid-1990s but remained very close friends. (After his death and release of his body, it was Praiwan's family in northern Thailand that travelled to Bangkok, took custody of Dave's remains, were with him during his cremation and as Dave had requested, transported his ashes for internment in the village where Dave and Praiwan met some thirty years ago.)

Praiwan had remarried but remained Dave's trustee, but near the end of his last visit to Ontario in the summer and autumn of 2012, Dave learned that Praiwan had dropped the surname "Walker" and adopted her second husband's surname. In an emotional pique, on his way back to Cambodia while stopping off in Edmonton to settle his affairs and recent inheritance issues, Dave replaced Praiwan with Tammy Madon as holder of power of attorney in his affairs. Blood some say is thicker than love. 

Considering that Dave had now been missing four days and nobody officially seemed to be looking for him yet, I felt that both the Canadian Foreign Affairs Department and the Cambodian authorities need to come under public scrutiny in the press and media regarding Dave's disappearance and what appeared to be foot-dragging to take it seriously.

Press Release: Cambodian press is reporting today the mysterious disappearance of Canadian freelance photo journalist

On Tuesday-Wednesday Feb 18-19, with Tammy Madon's approval, I issued a press release and called all my contacts in Canadian news media here to report the disappearance of Dave Walker at the same time as journalists in Cambodian, in particular those from the Phnom Penh Press also began to post stories on Dave’s disappearance and the first comments from Cambodian Immigration Police claiming that they are investigating the circumstances of Dave’s disappearance. In the meantime Tammy Madon's daughter, Cathy Moore set up the first FIND DAVE WALKER FACEBOOK GROUP.  She would be assisted by her younger sister, Maria Madon. 

I circulated the following press release in the early morning hours of Wed. February 19 to media referring them to the report of Dave Walker's disappearance that just appeared in the Phnom Penh Press in Cambodia.

Toronto, February 19, 2014

Cambodian press is reporting today the mysterious disappearance of Canadian freelance photo journalist Dave Walker last Friday February 14 in Siem Reap.

For information in Toronto call Peter Vronsky

Help Find Dave Walker Facebook Group:


Phnompenh Post: Wed, 19 February 2014

Thik Kaliyann and Stuart White

Police in Siem Reap province are looking for veteran Canadian journalist and screenwriter Dave Walker, 58, who went missing from his guesthouse under mysterious circumstances on the afternoon of February 14, police and colleagues said yesterday.

Siem Reap provincial Immigration Police officer Yut Sinin said that Walker had left his room at the Green Village Angkor guesthouse on the afternoon of the 14th, leaving behind his phone, laptop, passport and belongings – and little indication of where he might have gone.

“We are worried about his safety now. Previously, he would usually leave Siem Reap for Thailand for about three or four days, but this time we found that his passport, phone and clothes are still in his guesthouse,” said Sinin, adding that he had posted a notice seeking information on a Siem Reap expat Facebook group.

“The Australian Embassy in Phnom Penh [which handles consular affairs for Canadians] just contacted us [on Tuesday] morning about him going missing, but we will try our best to find him,” Sinin said.

A representative working on Canadian consular affairs at the embassy confirmed yesterday that they had received a missing persons report, and were investigating the matter.

Sonny Chhuon, with whom Walker co-founded the film production company Animist Farm Films, said that staff told him Walker ducked out of his room at about 2pm on February 14 to allow a housekeeper to clean it, carrying just a bottle of water.

“Dave told them, ‘Go ahead, clean the room; I’ll be back in a while,’ then we never saw him again,” Chhoun said, noting that Walker didn’t drink alcohol and had a well-established daily routine.

Chhoun, who typically saw Walker on a daily basis, said he had checked with police, local clinics and restaurants that Walker frequented, but no one had seen him since he left the hotel.

“I just want to say, I don’t think he went anywhere by himself. I think something is wrong. I don’t think he would just leave, with his phone on the charger, and go somewhere,” Chhoun added. “This is very unnatural for Dave. I know him very well.”

The Khmer Rouge Hook

In order to be published, every news story needs “a hook.”  A single middle-aged Canadian male traveler disappearing for four or five days in South East Asia was not exactly a story that Canadian media was going to jump on.  The "hook" I had was that Dave was working on a documentary film The Poorest Man about an Oskar Schindler-like good Khmer Rouge official who used his arbitrary power over life and death to save lives. I argued that such a film would expose as liars thousands of former Khmer Rouge killers who have been reconciled with and reintegrated back into Cambodian society on the claim they “had no choice but to kill” under Pol Pot. But the subject of Dave’s proposed film, 'the poorest man' had a choice, and used it, and survived despite his actions in saving people he was ordered to kill, potentially a much more embarrassing or dangerous story to former Khmer Rouge perpetrators than the usual recounting ad nauseam their crimes that nobody paid much attention to anymore. It was just bad for business (which many of them were in now).

While this was the “hook” that I offered the media on which they could run their reports, I had no direct knowledge or evidence (nor claimed to have any) as to what really happened to Dave Walker in those first five days of his disappearance, however, the ex-Khmer Rouge scenario was realistically a plausible one in several forms and still remains marginally so today, although unlikely.

Dave Walker’s disappearance was reported in the Canadian and international press, including Time Magazine online in a series of articles mostly published on Wednesday and Thursday February 19-20. We were reassured in our belief that his disappearance would not be overlooked.  It would turn out to be a naive hope.     


back  forward


Facebook Conversation started February 17, 2014 with Tammy Madon

2/17, 3:39pm
Peter Vronsky

Tammy, are you a relative of Dave Walker? Have you any news or official contact regarding his disappearance on Friday in Cambodia? Everyone is very concerned.

2/17, 4:04pm
Tammy Madon

What. ... I have not heard anything I'm his only relative. Are you sure he disappeared. How do you know him

2/17, 4:35pm
Tammy Madon

I just read your fb post. Thats terrible. Please keep me updated. Thank you

2/17. 5:13pm,
Peter Vronsky

Tammy everybody is trying to alert Canadian authorities in Bangkok and the police in Cambodia -- but you might consider filing a report with External Affairs, as you are his only relative. Most of us don't even know his date of birth, and as none family, are being told that we might be unable to get official action on this. Try contacting External Affairs emergency desk and filing an official missing persons report. I have done everything I can but am being told as a non-family member they might not be able to let me know anything for "privacy" motives.

2/17, 5:15pm
Tammy Madon

Ok. Thank you. I will see what I can do. I may need to use you as a resourse

2/17, 5:21 pm
Peter Vronsky

The toll free emergency number for External Affairs is •1-800-387-3124

I called External Affairs this morning and they brought up his passport on their database and are pinging the Embassy in Bangkok (we have nothing in Cambodia) but so far they do not see anything on their screens for action being taken over there. I also called the RCMP but they say they cannot do anything unless Cambodian authorities request their help through INTERPOL. I would just hate to see this go bad simply because the bureaucracy is slow in waking up. The more people who call, the better.

2/17, 5:28 pm
Tammy Madon

I'm on the phone with them right now

2/17. 5:34
Tammy Madon

They opened a case file and took my information and are now investigating. They are going to call me back. As soon as I have any word I will let you know.

2/17, 5:39pm
Peter Vronsky

thanks. They didn't say anything about all the other calls going in about Dave last 24 hours?

2/17. 5:39pm
Tammy Madon

They only asked if I had called earlier. I Said no. But I said someone else did call but because they were not fsmily then they couldn't proceed

2/17 5:41pm
Peter Vronsky

Thanks, keep me posted. I will let Richard Erlich who contacted me originally on this know a relative has put in a report.

February 18, 2014

Peter Vronsky
2/18, 8:12pm

Tammy - I think the best thing we can do for Dave right now is to get everybody up and down asking questions before the trail goes cold. I am prepared to officially file a report with Toronto Police -- even if they cannot do anything about it -- and had already called the RCMP prior to finding you -- who also told me they cannot do anything about. There still might be physical evidence to what happened - there should be no assumption that Dave cannot be found alive and well. I am also thinking of contacting the media here -- Dave has lots of friends in CTV and CBC who would begin asking questions on National media -- I think this would be more helpful than harmful. My concern is that the overworked Canadian diplomats look at this as another heart broken fat drunk white guy in Asia -- and not take this seriously. If the press start asking questions, it may inspire them to make this a priority -- especially as not even a week has gone by. Its only Tues

2/18, 9:07pm
Tammy Madon

I agree. Actually my daughters also suggested calling Global News . I think CBC would be better. He was well known for rescuing a little girl years ago . It was all over the news how he reunited Suri with her family. This is an excellent idea. Do you have contacts in the CBC to request their help?

2/18, 9:28pm
Peter Vronsky

I will call them all. They follow a news story like flocks of birds. Bottom line everybody will want to talk to you as family member before they do anything. Can you give me by tomorrow morning a phone number for taking calls from media if they come?

For you to take calls... I mean.

2/18, 9:27pm
Tammy Madon

ok, my cell # 780-xxx-xxxx. My home # is 780-xxx-xxxx. Best to call my home after 6:00 pm or my cell

2/18, 9:28pm
Peter Vronsky

Perfect. Will contact the newspapers too.

2/18, 9:29pm
Tammy Madon

ok, sounds good. He has a lot of friends in Edmonton. A lot of people remember him

2/18, 9:29pm
Peter Vronsky

He's got friends around the world your cousin.

2/18, 9:30pm
Tammy Madon

yesfind him he sure does. I hope they
Hope they find him

2/18, 9:32pm
Peter Vronsky

I have one more question. As family member you should ask the Canadian authorities to assure you that they have taken possession of Dave's cell phone, laptop and everything else. Or that the Cambodian Police are holding it all. There could be all sorts of evidence and information on his phone and laptop.

2/18, 9:34pm
Tammy Madon

That's a good idea. Should I contact External Affairs for this?

2/18, 9:40pm
Peter Vronsky

Having filed that report, do you have somebody as your go-to now at Ex A? Can you re-contact the person who first took you report? You probably will need to be regularly dealing with External Affairs -- somebody who can keep updating you as you nag them... Some body who is "managing" the case -- eventually they will move you to their boss... etc -- try to keep that link and number going at External Affairs

2/18, 9:42pm
Tammy Madon

ok, I'll call them again , They should be able to see the file if I give them the name. I'll update you when I can. Thank you

2/18, 10:31pm
Tammy Madon

I called, they took the info and requested I send an email to which I did. They will add all this In the email I requested the proper officials secure the phone and laptop as we believe information on where he went or is could be on these.

[ Comment: is a general e-mail for Canadian tourists and travellers in distress. The run-around begins...]

2/18, 11:14pm
Peter Vronsky

I'll put in a call to Dave's government contacts again in the hope that they will nudge Bangkok embassy to make it a priority.

2/18, 11:20pm
Tammy Madon

Good. The more we stir things up the better
Go to home page back forward