ND grad Poirier remains missing in Bolivia
By JASON McFARLEY
An FBI team has left Bolivia after investigating the disappearance of a 1999 Notre Dame graduate and Peace Corps volunteer who has been missing for seven weeks.
Peace Corps officials remain concerned about the disappearance of University alumnus Walter Poirier and pledge to continue the investigation, according to a May 11 statement released by the organization.
"After two months of intensive investigation, and despite the best efforts of the U.S. embassy [in La Paz, Bolivia], the Bolivian police, Peace Corps search specialists and the FBI, we still do not know what has happened to Walter," officials said in the statement.
Poirier disappeared on Feb. 22 in Bolivia's Zong Valley, where he worked on eco-tourism development projects. Poirier regularly traveled between La Paz and several villages in the valley.
"The FBI team reviewed all the investigative notes and evidence and conducted numerous interviews with residents of the Zongo Valley…," the release said. "To date, the FBI has uncovered no credible evidence of foul play in his disappearance."
Posters offering a reward for information leading to Poirier's whereabouts are being distributed throughout Bolivia, and the U.S. embassy will continue to work with the Bolivian media to publicize the disappearance and reward, according to the release.
The FBI's regional representative will make monthly trips to Bolivia to review the case and an FBI emergency response team will be on stand-by to return to Bolivia should any new leads develop, the release said.
About a month ago, two Notre Dame residence halls teamed to organize a fundraiser to benefit a South Bend agency and raise awareness about Poirier's case.
The Dismas House fundraiser began in mid-April to collect proceeds for Dismas of Michiana, a local organization that reintroduces former offenders into society, and serve as a living prayer for Poirier.
Keenan and Zahm hall residents organized the campus-wide project, asking students to donate at least $2. Poirier is a former Zahm Hall president and Dismas staff member.
Organizers hoped to raise $15,000 through the effort, said Father Gary Chamberland, Keenan Hall rector. By Wednesday, they had collected about $6,000, he said.
"We originally hoped to raise $15,000, but maybe that wasn't realistic to expect," Chamberland said. "We also hoped that this project would raise awareness about Wally's situation, and I hope we did that."
All News Stories for Friday, May 18, 2001