Saskatoon woman made checklist while planning abduction, court documents allege
A Saskatoon mother stands accused of faking her own death, as well as her son's, in an "elaborate and well thought out plan" that included handwritten checklists, according to court documents.
Dawn Walker, 48, and her seven-year-old son were located by U.S. authorities in Oregon City, Oregon on Aug. 5.
According to U.S. District Court filings, Walker allegedly stole the identity of a close friend to open up a bank account as part of an "abduction scheme" to abduct her son and enter the U.S. illegally. She is currently being held in an Oregon detention facility.
In a memo requesting Walker remain in custody awaiting her trial, U.S. Attorney Natalie Wight said she believes Walker poses a "flight risk."
"As part of an elaborate and well thought out plan, the defendant, a Canadian citizen, kidnapped her child and, after faking her death and that of her son, fled to the United States," Wight said.
"The defendant has every incentive to try and flee to avoid the consequences of their crime. She should be detained."
She is charged with a felony count of aggravated identity theft, which comes with a mandatory two-year sentence if convicted.
Walker also faces a misdemeanour identity theft charge, that could garner up to a six-month sentence.
In addition to the U.S. charges, Saskatoon Police Service charged Walker with abduction in contravention of a custody order and public mischief. On Monday Deputy Chief Randy Huisman said there could be additional charges.
Walker and her son were reported missing on July 24. Her truck and belongings were found the next morning at Chief Whitecap Park in Saskatoon.
An affidavit filed by a U.S. investigator outlines how on July 23 a Saskatoon resident found a blanket, a purse and a broken fishing pole in the South Saskatchewan River.
In the days following the discovery, police and volunteers combed the park and the adjacent river for any sign of Walker or her son.
ALLEGED IDENTITY FRAUD
According to the affidavit filed by a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) agent, Walker's friend only became aware of the alleged identity fraud after she was contacted by police who were investigating Walker's disappearance.
The investigators had flagged two large cheques written to the friend from a business account that listed Walker as the sole card holder.
The two cheques, totalling $77,000, were written in early June and were deposited in a bank account opened in the friend's name on May 16, according to the affidavit which refers to Walker's friend only as "Adult Victim."
The friend's child is referred to as "Minor Victim."
"Adult Victim stated that she did not open this bank account but that the (Adult Victim) had their (Indian and Northern Affairs Canada Certificate of Indian Status card and Saskatchewan driver’s license) stolen in April 2022," DHS special agent Clinton Lindsly said in the affidavit.
A string of transactions began appearing in the bank account on July 25, including charges for food, gas, hotels Netflix and Airbnb rentals.
The charges began near the Canadian border in Butte, Montana and ended in Oregon City, according to the affidavit.
"Canadian officials then contacted Airbnb and learned that there was a current rental in Oregon City under the name of Adult Victim," Lindsly said.
According to the affidavit, the Airbnb was placed under surveillance by DHS and a records search showed a person entered the U.S. under the Adult Victim's name accompanied by a child under the Minor Victim's name the morning of July 23.
A blue Chevrolet Equinox with a Saskatchewan plate registered under the Adult Victim's name sat in the driveway of the rental, Lindsly said.
In his statement, Lindsly says he saw Walker leave the Airbnb and get into the vehicle.
"While wearing police markings I then approached the car and ordered the driver of the vehicle to exit the vehicle. I immediately identified the female as Walker," Lindsly said.
He said Walker told him her son was inside when he asked.
"Concerned about the safety and welfare of the child and the fact that she was appearing to leave the child alone, investigators used the Airbnb provided code to enter the Airbnb rental and located the child in the living room," Lindsly said.
Lindsly said Walker provided her real name when asked and that he found a status card, a Saskatchewan driver's licence and debit card all bearing the name of the Adult Victim.
The investigator said he later located genuine Saskatchewan birth certificates in the name of both the Adult Victim and Minor Victim. Lindsly said they were in their original mailing envelope addressed to the Adult Victim.
"I also told Walker that people presumed that she and her son died in the river, to which she spontaneously stated 'he doesn’t want to be with his father.'" Lindsly said.
The special agent also said he found a fraudulent notarized letter purportedly from the Minor Victim's father which authorized the child to travel into the U.S. for a wedding in South Dakota.
"Investigators have confirmed that Minor Victim’s father never provided such authorization," Lindsly said.
"As such, I believe that this document was created by Walker in order to further her son’s entry into the United States by falsely using a passport."
Lindsly said he found what appeared to be a to-do list relating to her disappearance.
"I found several pages that seemed consistent with a “check list” of staging the odd circumstances of their disappearance (i.e. making it look like she and her son fell into the river)," Lindsly wrote.
"This list included things such as 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 her tattoo."
Samples of the lists included in the affidavit also show steps such as "dye hair" and "ditch phone in water" as well as an apparent reminder to bring toys and to pack the vehicle.
Lindsly's affidavit said Walker and her son's biological father "have been engaged in a lengthy custody dispute" and that she picked up the boy from his father on Friday July 22, the last day police said she was seen prior to her disappearance.
According to SPS, she was last seen at a business in the city's Brighton neighbourhood.
The following Monday, police in Saskatoon were dispatched to Walker's home.
The officers "found the door unlocked, her animals unfed, and animal feces on the ground in the house," Lindly said.
After the pair was found, the boy was turned over to the Oregon Department of Human Services where he was expected to be reunited with his father, Lindsly said.
SPS confirmed the boy had returned home with a legal guardian over the weekend.
--With files from Keenan Sorokan
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