Parents of Slain Volunteer Say Peace Corps Error Led to Murder

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The family of a 24-year old Peace Corps volunteer from Atlanta, Kate Puzey, says agency personnel set her up to be murdered by revealing her role in the dismissal of an employee she accused of sexually abusing children at a school in the African country of Benin.

The young woman was found with her throat slit shortly after the employee, Constant Bio, a citizen of Benin, received word from Peace Corps officials that he would be dismissed from his contractor position.

"It just seems very obvious that that was the cause," said Puzey's brother David. "Kate was trying to protect these young girls who were being sexually abused."

The suspect has been in custody since the murder in March 2009 while authorities in Benin investigate. Bio asserted his innocence in a letter to a newspaper in Benin, claiming he was being framed by America.


Interviewed for a report on 20/20 tonight, Puzey's parents say the Peace Corps attempted to keep the case and the mistakes quiet, and keep them in the dark about what happened.

"It hurts us very deeply," said Kate's father, Harry Puzey.

"We wouldn't be sitting here, I think, if they had been more transparent with us, more honest with us," added Kate's mother, Lois.

Kate Puzey Heard Reports of Sexual Abuse

The vivacious Kate had nothing but admirers in the village of Badjoude, Benin, where she was posted in 2007.

As a teacher in the local school, she formed a girls' club to help empower the young women.

"It's hard to be a girl in that part of the world," said Kate's cousin Emilie Jacobs, who visited her in the village. "The girls started really speaking about some of the issues they were face, their concerns as seventh graders."


Before long, Jacobs says, Kate began to hear reports of sexual abuse involving Bio and some of the seventh graders.

"She had started hearing that he had been sleeping with some of his students," Jacobs said. "Some of the girls actually ended up having children by him and weren't going to school anymore. And then she heard that he had raped some girls."

At the request of several teachers, Jacobs said, Kate sent an e-mail to the Peace Corps office in Benin's capital city of Cotonou, recommending Bio be fired.

"Please believe me, I'm not someone who likes to create problems, but this has been weighing heavily on me," reads the e-mail she sent, obtained by ABC News.

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"This man is not someone I want representing Peace Corps to the Beninese community," she said.

Bio's brother worked as a manager in the Peace Corps office and she asked her role be kept secret.

"For obvious reasons, it's important to me that I remain anonymous in this situation," Kate wrote.

Peace Corps Promised Confidentiality

The Peace Corps director for Benin, Sheryl Cowan, promised Kate's role would be kept confidential.

But authorities say Bio became aware of Kate's role in accusing him.

"This is a violent person, has no respect for women" said Lois Puzey. "So what's going to happen when he loses his prestige? He's gonna lose his job?"

Bio's brother, Jacques, was also taken into custody in connection with the murder, although no formal charges have yet been filed against either man as is typical of investigations under the judicial system in Benin.

The Peace Corps has done its best to keep word of the case and its apparent mistakes quiet.

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