SUSPECT IN DISAPPEARANCE OF THREE IN FRENCH POLYNESIA DIES

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SAN DIEGO, California (September 30, 2002 -- Marianas Variety/ Reuters)---The prime suspect in the July disappearance of former basketball player Bison Dele and two others in the South Pacific has died at a San Diego area hospital, hospital officials said on Saturday.

Kevin Williams, Dele’s brother, died on Friday at Scripps Memorial Hospital in Chula Vista, where he had been in a coma since authorities located him in Tijuana on Sept. 15, hospital spokeswoman Monica Montano said.

"He did pass away yesterday evening. He was in critical condition, and he never really changed while in the hospital," Montano said, adding that the local medical examiner’s office was determining the precise cause of death.

Williams, who also went by the name Miles Dabord, had been wanted for questioning in the disappearance of Dele, his girlfriend Serena Karlan and Bertrand Saldo, who were last seen in July sailing their catamaran near Tahiti with Williams.

Local authorities have reportedly said they feared all three had been killed and their bodies dumped at sea.

Dele, 33, was born Brian Williams and later changed his name to honor his Native American and African American heritage. He played for several professional basketball teams, including the Chicago Bulls, Los Angeles Clippers and Detroit Pistons, before retiring from the National Basketball Association in 1999.

Dabord, 35, had been wanted by the FBI as a fugitive in a fraud case out of Phoenix. He was brought to the Scripps Hospital as an unidentified patient on Sept. 15. Authorities identified him after his fingerprints were run through an FBI database in a bid to find his family.

Investigators have been examining a catamaran that once belonged to Dele, which turned up recently in Tahiti with a new coat of paint and registered under another name.

The Los Angeles Times earlier this month quoted anonymous law enforcement sources as saying investigators found a substance that might be blood on board the boat and damage to one of the twin hulls that may have come from a bullet.

For additional reports from the Marianas Variety, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/ Marianas Variety.

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