Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Murder in the Peace Corps

A News Flash

On Feb. 1, 2006, a young Peace Corps volunteer in Tonga was killed in a shark attack.

Tessa Horan
Tessa Horan

Tessa Horan, 24, had arrived in the kingdom just two weeks before, on Jan. 18. She was a native of Sante Fe, N.M., wholike Deborah Gardnerwas teaching science to Tongans.

She and two native youths went swimming in the ocean to cool off after a soccer game, and she suffered a fatal shark bite.

Aerial view of Tonga
Aerial view of Tonga

The death was treated much differently than the muted reaction to Gardner's murder 30 years ago, as orchestrated by the Peace Corps.

The shark attack was covered by media outlets around the globe, including the BBC, Agence France Presse, Pacific Island News Service, Radio Australia, China's Xinhua News Agency and dozens of American, Australian and New Zealand newspapers.

The Peace Corps issued an electronic press release about the death just hours after the tragedy happened. It ended with a quotation from Gaddi Vasquez, the Peace Corps director.

He said, "Our thoughts and prayers are with the Horan family at this very difficult time."

Deborah Gardner must have turned in her grave.


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