FBI Commends Bolivian Government and National Police for Efforts in Search for Volunteer Walter Poirier; U.S. State Department Vows to Continue Search Until Poirier's Fate is Discovered

April 30, 2001

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 30, 2001—An exhaustive search and investigation for Peace Corps Volunteer Walter Poirier, 23, continues this week. Poirier disappeared two months ago in Bolivia during his Peace Corps service as an eco-tourism volunteer.

On April 19, six FBI investigators joined the search, underway since March 5 by the U.S. State Department, the Bolivian National Police and the Peace Corps. Last Friday, the lead FBI investigator on the case said that the Bolivian government has dedicated "extraordinary" resources and manpower to this case. He also commended the Bolivian National Police and thanked the Bolivian media for its involvement and dedication to help locate Poirier.

"We are pleased with the FBI's assessment of the investigation to date. We continue to share the frustration and anguish of the Poirier family that the investigation and search has yet to yield useful information regarding the whereabouts of Walter Poirier," said Charles R. Baquet III, acting Director of the Peace Corps.

The search for Poirier began on March 5 after reports that he missed a meeting with his Bolivian colleagues and had failed to be in recent contact with his family in Lowell, Massachusetts. The investigation has included ground and river searches and ongoing questioning of Poirier's neighbors, friends, and colleagues, among others who might have encountered Poirier. Investigators have monitored hospitals, jails, transportation centers and border crossings continuously since March 5.

Media reports have speculated that Poirier was a possible victim of a mudslide or a kidnapping, neither of which is supported by facts from the investigation. There is also public misperception of certain facets of the investigation, such as Poirier's e-mail account.

"There is public confusion about the government's right to access Walter's e-mail account," Baquet said. "Early in the investigation, the Peace Corps attempted to gain access to Walter Poirier's e-mail account. We have been unable to do so, however, as his right to privacy is protected by federal law unless there is evidence of a crime."

As a primary partner in the search and investigation, the Peace Corps continues to dedicate extensive resources and focus in the effort to locate Walter Poirier. In Bolivia, Peace Corps investigator,\ Special Agent Robert Boswell has been working with the FBI agents, Bolivian police and State Department staff. The Peace Corps continues to offer a reward for information that might help the investigation and continues to sponsor broadcast spots of the Poirier family's plea for information.

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