Advertisement

Dele's Boat Found in Tahiti

Pro basketball: No sign of missing former NBA player or two others. Catamaran had been docked since July 8.

September 13, 2002|LANCE PUGMIRE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The catamaran belonging to missing former NBA player Bison Dele has been found docked in the Tahitian town of Taravao, a French police official said Thursday.

Military and civilian police were expected to begin an investigation aboard the boat, Hakuna Matata, after receiving permission to board the craft from a French magistrate. It had been docked at the site since July 8, police said.

When it was found, Hakuna Matata--a line from Disney's "Lion King" that translates to "no worries"--had been painted over and replaced by the name Arabella, a family source said.

FBI officials in San Francisco dispatched a forensics team to Tahiti on Thursday night.

The boat's occupants--Dele, formerly known as Brian Williams; his girlfriend, Serena Karlan; and captain Bertrand Saldo--are still missing. So is the subject of an FBI manhunt, Dele's older brother, Miles Dabord, also known as Kevin Eugene Williams.

Patrique Humbert, a charter boat captain and friend of Saldo, found the boat. Humbert resides in the neighboring French Polynesian island of Moorea, where friends say they last saw Dele, Karlan and Saldo.

Contacted by telephone, Humbert said, "I have nothing to say and nothing to do with this. It's under police control now."

Taravao is located on the southeast side of Tahiti, about 50 miles opposite the northwest town of Papeete, where the boat was logged in July 4.

Karlan was the last person aboard to make contact with relatives on the mainland. She sent an e-mail that was received by her mother in Boulder, Colo., during the early-morning hours on July 7.

The FBI has instructed Dele's mother, Patricia Phillips, and Karlan's parents not to discuss the case with reporters for the next five to six days.

Reached at the family's home in Colorado, Scott Ohlgren, Karlan's stepfather, was buoyed by the boat's discovery.

"Now they can get all the people who were looking for the boat to look for the three missing people," he said.

In its search for Dabord, the bureau raided a Tijuana hotel room officers believed Dabord stayed in as recently as Wednesday. Dabord was not in the room and remained, "not apprehended, and possibly still in Mexico," according to an FBI source.

The FBI would not reveal what evidence was discovered in the hotel room. On Wednesday, Dabord's car was impounded by the FBI in Santa Clara County.

Dabord, 35, sailed with Dele, 33, and Karlan, 30, through early July. On Sept. 5, Dabord appeared at a Phoenix coin establishment, Certified Mint, and attempted to purchase $152,000 in gold with a check from Brian Williams'--Dele's--account. Dabord signed his name "Brian Williams" and displayed his younger brother's passport as identification before being brought into police custody.

He was released early the next morning without being arrested. Kevin Porter, Dele's personal assistant, told Dele and Karlan's parents that Dabord purchased a plane ticket to San Jose on Sept. 6. Porter has not returned phone calls to the Phoenix residence where he is staying.

Estranged from his mother since January 1999, Dabord called Phillips on Wednesday and threatened suicide. Phillips said Thursday night she had not heard from Dabord again.

"I just assumed when that call ended that it was the last time I would talk to him," Phillips said. "I told him I couldn't do anything about our past, but that I could do something that moment, and that was to convey my love to him."

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|