What Killed Stephanie Chance?


American authorities instructed medical staff in Niger on which fluids to extract from Chance's body before it was embalmed. The African doctors then shipped the embalmed body and the fluids to Dover for an autopsy. To date, the autopsy and the fluids have shown no foul play and no poison and have not revealed a specific cause of death. Two tests, one for infectious disease and one for genetic heart disease, have yet to be completed. Bogner says the Peace Corps is financing the tests.

In talking to the doctor at Dover, however, Bogner learned for the first time that the Peace Corps' Inspector General had launched an investigation into her daughter's death. The Inspector General's office confirmed the existence of the investigation to Bogner on the phone earlier this month, three months after her daughter was found dead.

Soon after Chance's death, Bogner was also told by a Peace Corps representative that Nigerien officials had conducted their own investigation, and that Chance's belongings could not be returned until the investigation was completed.

Via the Peace Corps, she received translated notes from the Nigerien inquiry, which state that there was no evidence of assault and that Chance had been dead for more than 12 hours when they found her at 11:30 a.m. She said she was not told whether that investigation is complete.

On Jan. 7, Bogner sent an email to a Peace Corps investigator to ask who had requested the internal Peace Corps inquiry into her daughter's death. The investigator replied by email that "as a matter of course," he could not supply that information.

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The same day, Bogner sent a separate email to Peace Corps Director Aaron Williams and Peace Corps Inspector General Kathy Buller to ask about the Inspector General's investigation and the Nigerien investigation. As of Wednesday morning, she had not yet received an answer.

Peace Corps Answers Bogner

ABC News contacted a Peace Corps representative on Tuesday and on Wednesday for an update on the inquiry into Chance's death. On Wednesday afternoon, Bogner finally received an email reply to her original January 7 email from Inspector General Buller, cc'ed to Director Williams. The response did not address the status of the Nigerien investigation, but Buller did explain who had asked for the IG investigation and begin to address what it concerns.

"The Medical Examiner," said Buller's email, apparently referring to the doctor conducting the autopsy in Dover, "requested that we gather information regarding the physical circumstances surrounding your daughter's death to assist him in determining the cause. An OIG Special Agent is planning to travel to Niger, however, security concerns have been increasing over the past few weeks and he is waiting for U.S. Embassy approval to make the trip."

Bogner says she finds the timing of the response "interesting," given the recent inquiries by ABC News. "I guess I have no choice but to be satisfied [with the email response]."

The Peace Corps elected to remove its volunteers from Niger after two 25-year-old French citizens were abducted at gunpoint from a restaurant in the Nigerien capital, Niamey, on Jan. 7. The men died during a gun battle between police and the kidnappers the next day.

Last week, a spokesman for Al Qaeda's North African affiliate, Al Qaeda in the Maghreb (AQIM), took responsibility for the abduction.

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