Related topics

Divers Seek Clues in Dele Case

September 19, 2002 GMT

%mlink(STRY:; PHOTO:NY150-091802; AUDIO:%)

PAPEETE, Tahiti (AP) _ Divers searched the waters off an island near Tahiti for clues to the disappearance of former NBA player Bison Dele and two other people.

The divers were looking in a lagoon on the north coast of Moorea, where Dele and his girlfriend Serena Karlan spent time before they disappeared July 8. Bertrand Saldo, the French captain of Dele’s 55-foot catamaran, also is missing, and police have opened a murder investigation.

The abandoned sailboat was found at the port of Taravao on the French Polynesian island of Tahiti on Sept. 12. A day later, the FBI issued an arrest warrant for Dele’s older brother, Miles Dabord, who was traveling with Dele and Karlan before the couple disappeared.

The Los Angeles Times has reported that the murder inquiry was prompted by statements Dabord’s girlfriend told authorities in California. Erica Weise said to the sheriff’s department in Sonoma County and the San Francisco FBI that Dabord told her a struggle on board left his three companions dead, the Times reported, citing an unnamed French Polynesian police official.

A spokesman for the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office confirmed Thursday that the office did receive a call from Weise sometime in the past few weeks. The findings were then forwarded its findings to the FBI in San Francisco. The spokesman did not comment on the nature of Weise’s statements.

The FBI declined to comment on whether Weise had called the sheriff’s office.

Dele and his girlfriend spent much of their time on Moorea, which is about 10 miles from Tahiti. Didier Lamont, director of the hotel Sofitel La Ora in Moorea, has said the couple checked in shortly after June. 16.

The couple, Dabord and the skipper set sail together from Auckland, New Zealand, on May 2. Bound for Hawaii, they were on a prolonged layover in French Polynesia when Dele and his friends disappeared.

Dabord, 35, is known to have flown out of Tahiti on July 20.

``We must find out where the incident took place,″ Bounan said. ``That’s why we’re searching everywhere where people noticed comings and goings from the boat.″

Dele, who changed his name from Brian Williams in 1998, played eight seasons in the NBA before retiring in 1999 after spending two years with Detroit.

The FBI still is searching for Dabord, also known as Kevin Williams. On Sept. 5, Dabord was detained by police in Phoenix after he allegedly said he was Brian Williams and signed receipts with his brother’s former name while trying to gold.