U.S. court documents detail cross-country Dawn Walker investigation

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“In the U.S. criminal justice system, a person is presumed innocent unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.”

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American court records provide a more detailed account of Dawn Walker’s flight from Saskatchewan with her seven-year-old son Vincent Jansen.

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A criminal complaint from an officer with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security alleges Walker used the identity of a friend and that person’s child to facilitate her flight over the border with Jansen.

Their disappearance triggered national attention and a two-week search of the South Saskatchewan River, but Canadian officials have released limited information about the investigation that led to their being found on Friday.

Walker is currently detained as a flight risk in the U.S., pending further legal proceedings.

“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,” U.S. federal public defender Lisa Hay said in a statement.

“Ms. Walker is entitled to rely on these constitutional protections. Our policy is not to comment on the facts of pending cases, and we do not have a further comment on the unproven allegations in her case.”

A GoFundMe page started by the Idle No More movement for Walker’s defence said Walker has dedicated her life to Indigenous women and communities.

“Many Indigenous women feel helpless within the current justice system and this is when they need strong support,” the page says.

Walker is a prominent author and holds a high position at the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations.

The U.S. criminal complaint says Canadian officials originally believed Walker and Jansen were deceased after being swept away by the current in the river near Chief Whitecap Park in Saskatoon.

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However, on Friday they found records from financial institutions that Walker used, the document states. One of the institutions found a business account for “Wapan Consulting” that listed Walker as the only authorized card holder.

Wapan Consulting was entered into the Saskatchewan Corporate Registry on Jan. 13, 2021 and is registered to a home in Saskatoon’s North Park neighbourhood. The latest public information has that home in Dawn Walker’s name. One website says the home has been for sale for roughly 80 days.

Investigators saw two large cheques written from Walker’s business account: $25,000 on June 2 and $52,000 on June 5, both paid to someone the document only refers to as “Adult Victim.” They’re signed with what appeared to be the name Walker, according to the document.

Canadian police met with “Adult Victim” to discuss the cheques later that day. The conversation revealed Walker is friends and works with her, and their children also played together. The woman said she had no knowledge of the cheques, the U.S. complaint states.

The bank account the cheques were deposited in was opened in her name on May 16, but the woman said she didn’t open it and that her Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada Certificate of Indian Status card and Saskatchewan driver’s license were stolen in April, according to the document.

It says charges to the bank account for Airbnb rentals, food, gas, hotels and Netflix started on July 25. The locations start in Butte, Montana. Saskatoon police said Monday that Walker crossed the border in southern Alberta.

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From Butte, it appears the pair travelled to Billings Mont., then Spokane Wash., Umatilla, Ore. and Rufus Ore., then wrapped up in Oregon City, Ore., according to the document. Canadian officials contacted Airbnb and learned that there was a current rental in Oregon City under the name of the woman referred to as “Adult Victim.” The current balance of the account is over $70,000.

Saskatoon police contacted American authorities, who started to watch the rental and saw a blue Chevrolet Equinox with a Saskatchewan licence plate parked in the driveway, the document states. It was registered to the “Adult Victim,” but she said she never bough the Equinox.

An officer detained Walker and found Jansen inside the rental.

In a notebook in the car, the officer says he also found a handwritten list of tasks like 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,” and covering a tattoo.

Looking through a large plastic binder found in the car, he recovered a genuine Saskatchewan birth certificate in the name of “Adult Victim,” a genuine Saskatchewan birth certificate in the name of the woman’s child, and a genuine Canadian passport in the name of the child but with a photo of Walker’s son, according to the document.

Walker faces charges on both sides of the border. In the U.S., she’s charged with a felony charge of aggravated identity theft with a mandatory minimum of two years in prison, and a misdemeanour charge of identity theft with a minimum of six months in prison, according to a filing by the U.S. District Attorney’s office for Oregon.

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In Canada, she’s charged with public mischief and parental abduction in contravention of a custody order. None of the charges have been proven in court.

The news seems to be flying at us faster all the time. From COVID-19 updates to politics and crime and everything in between, it can be hard to keep up. With that in mind, the Saskatoon StarPhoenix has created an Afternoon Headlines newsletter that can be delivered daily to your inbox to help make sure you are up to date with the most vital news of the day. Click here to subscribe.

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