Prosecutors representing the United States in court against Dawn Walker want the Saskatoon woman detained until she stands trial on charges of using a false identity to enter their country.
Walker, 48, was the subject of an extensive search after she disappeared with her son about two weeks ago. She was found and arrested in Oregon on Friday and has been detained in the U.S. since.
On Monday, Saskatoon police said Walker was facing charges of parental abduction and public mischief in Canada, along with U.S. charges related to using false documents to cross the border.
Police said another legal guardian of Walker’s son, 7, who is not being named now that he has been found, brought him home to Saskatoon on Sunday.
U.S. prosecutors filed a court document in Oregon on Monday arguing that Walker is a “flight risk and should be detained pending trial and her eventual extradition to Canada.”
The prosecutors allege that Walker “kidnapped her child,” faked her and her son’s deaths, then fled to the U.S. as part of an “elaborate and well thought out plan.”
“The defendant went to extreme efforts to steal identities for her and her son that allowed them to unlawfully enter the United States and hide; she hid and funnelled assets to accounts to fund her flight from the law,” the document says.
A second document — an affidavit from an agent from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security — alleges Walker stole the identities of a friend and that friend’s son to open up a bank account, buy a vehicle and cross the border.
Walker’s U.S. public defender emphasized that the allegations are unproven.
“In the U.S. criminal justice system, a person is presumed innocent unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. This is an important principle that protects the liberty of all people in the United States,” Lisa Hay wrote. “Ms. Walker is entitled to rely on these constitutional protections.”
Walker’s friends and family have urged the public to wait to hear Walker’s rationale for what happened and why before jumping to conclusions.
An online fundraiser to help Walker access legal support has also raised thousands of dollars.
Checklist for staging ‘disappearance’
The prosecutors’ document says officials found checklists in Walker’s possessions detailing how she planned to stage her death and disappearance.
The to-dos included dying her hair, packing the car, getting toys, throwing her phone into the water, ditching her car by the bridge, possibly buying a fishing rod, “find nearest border,” covering a distinctive tattoo and other things, the document says.
Prosecutors wrote that Walker had fake identities in her possession when she was arrested, and argued that Walker could be capable of evading the U.S. justice system by relying on the planning that brought her across the border in the first place.
“For the reasons set forth herein, we respectfully request that the Court to detain the defendant pending trial and find she pose an unacceptable risk of non-appearance at future court hearings.”
Read the full document here:
A mysterious disappearance
Walker is a prominent Indigenous author in Canada and high-ranking official with the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations who has been described as an advocate for other Indigenous women.
The member of the Okanese First Nation was reported missing to police on July 24 after her friends and family hadn’t heard from her — a behaviour considered out of character. She had been last seen on July 22 at a business in Saskatoon.
On July 25, police found her truck and other personal belongings at Chief Whitecap Park, just south of Saskatoon near the South Saskatchewan River. Police learned someone in the area had found Walker’s purse a couple of days earlier.
Emergency crews, community organizations and volunteers spent days searching around the South Saskatchewan River for Walker and her child with no results.
Walker was found on Friday in the U.S. and charged in relation to the alleged false passport.
The affidavit from the homeland security agent, filed Friday, offers more details on the efforts to find Walker.
It says Canadian officials discovered a bank account opened in the name of the person whose identity Walker allegedly stole. Investigators were then able to track transactions made using that account from Butte, Mont., near the border, through several U.S. cities, with the most recent being Oregon City.
The affidavit says Canadian investigators contacted Airbnb and found someone had made a rental in Oregon City using the allegedly stolen identity. Investigators then contacted Homeland Security for help, the affidavit says.
The document goes on to describe the agent watching the property that had been rented and seeing a woman leave the building. The agent approached, “immediately identified the woman as Walker,” then detained her soon after, the document says.
According to the U.S. prosecutors’ document, there is a mandatory minimum sentence of two years in prison on one of the U.S. charges she faces, and up to six months for the other.
“The government has been informed by Canadian authorities that criminal charges will be pursued against the defendant and that they will seek a provisional arrest warrant and her extradition back to Canada,” the document says.