Girlfriend of Dabord says she's `open book'

Wiese speaks at length on Dele's disappearance

October 04, 2002|By Lance Pugmire | Lance Pugmire,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

She wants to believe his story about the disappearance of his brother, former basketball star Bison Dele, and two others off Tahiti.

But after nearly a month spent agonizing over Miles Dabord's version of events and learning more about the allegations he was facing when he apparently committed suicide, Erica Wiese has come to interpret her former boyfriend's actions as those of someone "acting in survival mode."

In her first extended interview since reporting Dabord's account to the FBI on Sept. 10, Wiese, 31, said she wants to clarify her involvement with Dabord and let people know "that I have told everything I know about this; I'm an open book.

"I think he was in a fight with [Dele] that ended ugly," Wiese said by telephone from her home in Northern California late Tuesday night. "Did he say to himself, `I've got witnesses, now I have to take care of them?' Probably. Why the gold? I think he was going to do what he could to escape. ... Once he gave up on that, he overdosed."

Law enforcement officials believe Dabord killed his brother - known as Brian Williams when he played at Maryland - along with Dele's girlfriend, Serena Karlan, and boat captain Bertrand Saldo while at sea on July 7. The next day, Dabord met Wiese on the island of Moorea, near Tahiti, and he was with her until she returned home on July 15.

Dabord, also known as Kevin Williams, died at a hospital in Chula Vista, Calif., last week after being taken off a respirator. He was found, comatose and nearly naked, in Mexico and was transported to the United States on Sept. 15. His mother, Patricia Phillips, said Dabord died from an insulin overdose combined with his not taking asthma medication.

While the FBI and authorities in French Polynesia wanted to question him about the disappearances on his brother's boat, Dabord was also being hunted by Phoenix police for skipping bail in connection with his allegedly trying to buy $152,000 in gold using his brother's identification as his own on Sept. 5.

Wiese said Dabord showed up at the Bay area high-tech company where she works on Sept. 6, telling her of his failed gold purchase and the reason he attempted it.

"At first, he said, `I came to tell you I'm leaving. I'm in trouble,' " Wiese said. "Then he said, `I need to help Bison out. He's in trouble. It's about a missing person; there's been an accident, and I need to get Bison money - gold, because it's the portable currency.' "

Wiese said Dabord confided Karlan had died, and he was considering suicide because of how the failed gold purchase would make him appear guilty once her death was discovered.

Dabord, Wiese added, was fearful he was being followed by law enforcement officials and wanted to stay in a Bay area hotel that night, then drive to Mexico the next day to obtain "medicine you can't get here."

On the morning of Sept. 7, Wiese said she and Dabord awoke in the hotel room and cried together for more than an hour. She sobbed while retelling the story: "When you've got a man crying in your arms, telling you he wants to spend the last hours of his life with you, I just wanted to be there for him. We were in love."

They drove to a motel in San Ysidro, Calif., near the Mexican border, where Dabord detailed his account of the three deaths that evening. Wiese said she awoke the next morning, Sept. 8, fearful she might be in danger because of her knowledge about the deaths.

"I just want to go home," Wiese told Dabord. "I know too much."

She then drove back to Palo Alto, Calif., taking a call from Dabord to her cell phone along the way. He had crossed into Mexico. That was the last she said she heard from him.

That night, she said she slept on her couch - a knife and a telephone within arm's reach.

"I'd be lying if I said I didn't think about a scenario where Miles would be saying to himself ... `I've told someone about this, I have to take care of it,' " Wiese said. "That's why I slept with the knife. It was a worst-case scenario."

The FBI does not consider Wiese an accomplice to Dabord, but others, including Kevin Porter, Dele's personal assistant, regard her as a potentially key witness.

"From July 8, when Erica arrived in Tahiti to vacation with Miles, to Sept. 7, when she has said Miles told her exactly what happened, that's about 60 days," Porter said. "You're trying to tell me Miles didn't say anything about this to her between then? This is what keeps me up at night."

Wiese said this was Dabord's account of what happened on the boat: He and Dele were fighting - a combination of past frictions - when Karlan was fatally injured while trying to intercede. Saldo was killed by Dele because the captain wanted to report Karlan's death to authorities. The fight with Dele continued after Saldo was killed, leading Dabord to shoot and kill Dele in self-defense. Dabord said he then weighted the three bodies and dumped them overboard.

"I just listened," Wiese said, "in shock."

Wiese repeated Dabord's account to a Sonoma County, Calif., sheriff on the night of Sept. 9.

Wiese met Dabord through mutual friends about two years ago. "I liked several qualities about him," she said. "He was extremely intelligent and intriguing; he knew a lot about the world, and he had a good sense of humor. I've seen a lot of articles about Miles, and some have painted him as a monster. The Miles I knew was soft-spoken, fun to be around, a teddy bear."

But she has also learned that something Dabord often said - that he was a partner with Dele in several holding companies - was untrue. Wiese said she has concluded Dabord was unemployed.

Lance Pugmire is a reporter for the Los Angeles Times, a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

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