Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Murder in the Peace Corps

American Promises

Tonga expected Priven to face confinement there, where the crime had occurred. The United States of America had other ideas.

U.S. authorities pressed Tonga to release Priven to their custody, but the Tongan prime minister insisted on formal assurance that he would face confinement back home.

After diplomatic back-and-forth, Peace Corps lawyers drew up a document that satisfied the Tongans.

The letter promised that Priven faced "immediate admittance" for mental treatment at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington. The government said Priven could be held involuntarily, and it added that his mental commitment would be terminated only "upon findings that (the) patient is no longer a threat to society or himself."

Priven boarded a jet home. He was flown under escort to Washington and, everyone assumed, checked into the hospital for the promised long-term care.

And then the world forgot about Dennis Priven.


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