The Disappearance and Death of Dave Walker
THE INVESTIGATION WEEK ONE Part 4(Continued): The Canadian Embassy "Investigates"
As described in the previous pages, although a number of people reported Dave Walker's mysterious disappearance in Siem Reap Cambodia on Valentine's Day to Canada Foreign Affairs Department and the Canadian Embassy in Thailand, the reports were not being taken seriously as they were not coming from family members. A report was first 'officially' accepted by Canada's Foreign Affairs Department in the late afternoon of Monday, February 17, 2014 when Dave's cousin Tammy Madon contacted them at my urging. By then it was early Tuesday morning in Cambodia, and nothing so far had been done. Richard Ehrlich ensured that Dave's disappearance was reported in the Cambodian and Thai media on Wednesday, February 19 while I ensured that Canadian media picked up and ran the story on the same day in North America. (Ottawa and Toronto are 12 hours behind Cambodia during Daylight Saving Time.)
No Canadian Embassy In Cambodia
In a cost-saving measure Canada had closed its Embassy in Phnom Penh, Cambodia in 2009, relegating routine representation of Canadians to the Australian Embassy. (See Toronto Star) Urgent or diplomatic Canadian representation in Cambodia was handled by the Canadian Embassy next door in Bangkok, Thailand, about 400 kilometers away--a six hour drive or just under an hour by air.
On Thursday, February 20 we finally received a response from the Canadian Embassy in Bangkok. It sounded very hopeful and somewhere I remember happily writing in an e-mail "the cavalry is on the way." Tammy e-mailed me that she had been told by Foreign Affairs,
"...the Foreign Affairs Minister and colleagues will be deployed to Cambodia with Immigration Police. They also approached a Private Investigator and Canadian Officials. All these people will arrive in Cambodia on Saturday. They will search the hotel Dave was at and will interview Sonny and the hotel staff. As well they will check the hospitals. I did indicate we were concerned about Sonny. He stated it will be an International Investigation. And there will be further updates from the RCMP." (Madon to Vronsky, E-mail, Feb. 20, 2014) [Tammy probably meant "consul" not "minister"]
The next day I issued the following update. In hindsight it was pathetically naive and optimistic.
The visit to Siem Reap by Canadian Vice-Consul Allison Catmur from the Bangkok Embassy
As Dave's business partner Sonny Chhoun had us chasing Salao Mao the weekend of February 22-23, Canadian Vice-Consul Allison Catmur from the Bangkok Embassy arrived in Siem Reap. There were no "private investigators" retained by the Embassy and despite there being perhaps as many as several RCMP officers stationed in Bangkok, no RCMP investigator accompanied Catmur. Catmur met with Sonny Chhoun and interviewed him but she did not take custody of Dave Walker's cell phone in Sonny's possession nor did she take Dave Walker's laptop, digital camera or other property remaining in the hotel room into her custody as requested by Tammy Madon, stating that she did not have the authority to do so.
Ten days after his disappearance, Dave Walker's room was still not sealed as a crime scene because the Cambodian authorities were not treating Dave's disappearance as a crime. The Green Village Angkor Guest House was the official custodian of Dave's property. According to Allison Catmur, she could not take the property into her custody until the Cambodians finish their investigation, while the Cambodians claimed they cannot seal Dave's hotel room until they decide his disappearance warrants an investigation. Catch-22.
In the meantime, at least one unauthorized person, a blogger in Cambodia going by the name of LTO (LTO Cambodia: A barang in the Land of the Khmer http://ltocambodia.blogspot.ca/ ) had gained unauthorized access to Dave's hotel room and searched it, advising us that he could not locate Dave's ATM card. While this was helpful, at the same time it was concerning just how unprotected potential evidence in Dave's room might be.
"We can only offer support, and make requests at high levels, which we have done and we will continue to do as required."
The following e-mails were exchanged between Vice-Consul Alison Catmur and Tammy Madon:
In the meantime Tammy Madon decided to follow Catmur's advice and consider appointing an official spokesperson to Foreign Affairs.
From: Peter Vronsky
Sent: Saturday, February 22, 2014 11:11 AM
To: tammy ~ ; last gasp ron turner * ; turnerColin ; glossograph ~
Subject: Ground Report From Siem Reap
I developed an informant who photographed today the ground sites connected to Dave's disappearance and I will post the photos shortly to the Facebook page. Perhaps they will jog somebody's memory.
This is what they write:
"I went to Green Village Angkor today and peeked around. The Guest house is directly opposite from a large elementary school (Wat Damnak primary), so there is a lot of day time traffic. The grounds in front are quite large, but clean and well maintained. There are several covered seating areas, an outdoor bar and a small swimming pool in front of the main doors. I was only on the grounds for 1-2 minutes before being approached by staff. I told them I was looking for lodging for friends and wanted to check out their guest house. They allowed me to take some photos inside, but I couldn't talk my way in to an open room to look around.
One of the things that bothers me is the lack of any security videos. I did not see any cameras on the grounds or in the lobby, but given that they have computers and several money boxes in plain sight, I would expect there to be video surveillance of some type.
I also went to 5 Sons restaurant. The owner was quite willing to talk. She
said that Dave had been in on the 14th about 1pm and left at 1:30. The next night (Saturday, 15 Feb.) *S* came in and asked if she had seen Dave. He told her that Dave had been gone from his room overnight and that no one knew where he was. She has a copy of the missing flyer - I'm assuming from *S*, but it was not posted. It took her some time to find it in her receipts book. As far as I could understand in talking to her, no one else had been in asking about Dave except for *S*
Is *S* a local to Siem Reap? I am surprised that if he is here, there are
no missing posters around town. This is a small place, and it doesn't take
long for stories to travel. I would think that he would be more active in trying to get the word out about his friend. Unless he knows more than what he is telling you and/or scared of retribution from whomever is responsible.
If there is anything else I can help please let me know."
From: Peter Vronsky
Sent: Saturday, February 22, 2014 10:26 AM /div>
To: tammy ~
Subject: Re: vronsky madon turners ~ *motorpsycho nightmare*
This is just for you, regarding that last e-mail about Dave being possibly kidnapped and held for his ATM card by a Cambodian-Canadian he knows over there.
Did you say that Dave's ATM card had not been used since Feb 14?
It is around 10:00 PM Cambodia time on Saturday, with the Consul having already arrived there on Friday and worked all day Saturday, and it seems that Sonny still has Dave's phone. Either they decided that he should keep it or Dave's phone or they have not yet interviewed him. !!!!!
I think everybody, everybody (including Praiwan when I spoke with her yesterday, are automatically suspicious of the "business partner"). Investigators will be too. I think at this point we should not fear that the investigators will overlook Sonny as a possible suspect. They are for sure going to look at him first and look very hard.
I think it would be in Dave's best interest for us to treat Sonny as who he says he is: Dave's friend who is genuinely trying to help and find him. If he has anything to do with Dave's disappearance, his current active role in the case will lead him to make a mistake and expose himself. It is not like he will be able to cover up the crime more easily. In fact if he is guilty, the more he actively participates in the search, the more he will trap himself in a lie inevitably./div>
I don't think we should lobby further that Sonny be investigated since
everybody believes he should be looked at first. That's a done deal.
We should however, lay a "side bet" on that Sonny is innocent and keep him close and weigh information he comes forward with. I found a local
informant who just went to the places where Dave was and took photos and spoke to people there. They have confirmed that Sonny indeed appeared to be desperately looking for Dave the day after. All this could be Sonny's plan, but for the sake of Dave, we should let Sonny run free and wild as its 50/50 either way. Sonny might be the only friend he has at the moment competent to find Dave. But if he is not innocent, by doing all this Sonny will hang himself with his own rope. It's not like on TV: a crime like this is not easy to "mastermind."
I e-mailed the Consul Officer sent from Bangkok to Siem Reap introducing myself and asked her where to forward any information trickling in as my e-mail is on Dave's missing poster. So far she has not replied.
I just asked Richard to ask Sonny if the Consul has interviewed him and if the information Richard has given us been given the Consul.
Is the RCMP in this? Has that been confirmed? Do we have a contact at the RCMP to whom the information arriving at my e-mail can be forwarded to. The longer everything drags out on the investigation, the colder the trail becomes.