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Police Scour Dele’s Boat for Clues

September 20, 2002

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PAPEETE, Tahiti (AP) _ Investigators are examining whether missing NBA player Bison Dele and two companions may have been shot to death while sailing in the South Pacific, scouring his boat for any signs of bullet marks, a prosecutor said Thursday.

The boat, a 55-foot catamaran dubbed the ``Hakuna Matata,″ was discovered in port on Taravao on the French Polynesian island of Tahiti Sept. 12. A day later, the FBI issued an arrest warrant for Dele’s older brother, Miles Dabord, for unlawful flight. Dabord was traveling with the group aboard the boat before the disappearances.

The 33-year-old Dele, formerly known as Brian Williams, his girlfriend Serena Karlan and Bertrand Saldo, a French skipper sailing with the group, were last seen July 8 during a layover in this French Pacific territory, investigators said.

The four set sail together from Auckland, New Zealand, May 2.

``All the elements, put together end to end, lead us to consider that they have apparently been killed,″ Papeete chief prosecutor Michel Marotte said.

Tahitian investigators were giving Dele’s boat a close examination, Marotte told The Associated Press. He said that no bullet holes had been found so far.

The catamaran was docked on July 18 by Dabord, French judicial officials have said. Its name had been removed and it was registered under a new name, ``Aria Bella.″

Marotte denied news reports that investigators believe Dele could have been killed with his own gun.

``If there was a gun, we believe it was a weapon brought by the author,″ he said.

Marotte said someone was seen throwing away clothes, including diving suits, that investigators think may have been aboard the boat.

``There were several witnesses. These clothes were found in garbage cans in Taravao,″ where the boat was discovered, he said.

The murder investigation began Monday. Experts have scoured the boat, taking photographs and gathering fingerprints and other evidence for analysis.

Tuesday, the Los Angeles Times reported that the murder inquiry was prompted by statements Dabord’s girlfriend told authorities in California. The newspaper reported that Erica Weise had reported that there was a struggle aboard the boat that left Dele, Karlan and Saldo dead.

The FBI is searching for Dabord, also known as Kevin Williams, who was detained Sept. 5 by police in Phoenix, Ariz. Dabord allegedly claimed he was Brian Williams and signed receipts with his brother’s former name while trying to buy $152,000 in gold.

Dabord showed his younger brother’s passport as identification, the FBI said. Arizona police released Dabord without formally arresting him.

A week ago, Mexican police found some personal items belonging to Dabord in a hotel room in Tijuana.

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