Ethiopia arrests suspect in U.S. diplomat’s death

By Tadias Staff

Published: Wednesday, February 11, 2009

New York (Tadias) – The Ethiopian Federal Police have arrested a suspect in the murder of 25-year-old U.S. diplomat Brian Adkins, Reuters reports.

Adkins was found dead at his home in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, on Saturday, January 31, 2009, three days before what would have been his 26th birthday.

According to Reuters he died of stab wounds.

“The unnamed suspect was being transferred to the capital after he was detained by officers at Were-Illu village in the remote north of the country on Tuesday,” the news agency said.

According to the same news source, the Ethiopian media reported that Adkins’ belongings – including a laptop computer, mobile telephone, camera and several documents – had been found with the suspect.

Ethiopia was Brian Adkins’ first foreign assignment.

Related from the : THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH
By Theodore Decker
Friday, February 6, 2009

He’d watched the Eiffel Tower’s light show from the top of the Arc de Triomphe and ridden a burro in Africa.

For Brian Adkins, 25, the world’s treasures were as simple and marvelous as a hyena strolling down the road.

That was among the last stories the fledgling U.S. diplomat from Franklin County shared with his family, just a few weeks before his death last weekend in Ethiopia.

Adkins gleefully told his family that the hyena was one of the ugliest creatures he’d ever seen. But it was much more than that to him, and his excitement was contagious.

“It was Africa,” his brother, Mike Adkins, said yesterday. “That’s pretty much what he was telling you.”

The death of a young man with such a passion for life and other cultures has left relatives devastated.

“He will probably be the most positive person we’ll ever know in our lives,” said his mother, Christine Adkins, who lives on the South Side.

Adkins, a foreign-service officer for the State Department in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa, was found dead in his home by security officials checking on him.

Ethiopian and U.S. officials have released few details about his death but said it appears to be a homicide. He likely was killed on Saturday.

His family was told of his death Monday, what would have been his 26th birthday, but they remain in the dark on most of the details. They don’t think his death was related to his job, Mrs. Adkins said. But they don’t know how he was killed, given the security provided to all diplomats.

“How did someone get in his house, and what happened in his house?” his mother asked.

Those answers might be weeks away. Adkins’ body remains in Ethiopia and likely won’t be returned to the United States until this weekend, when a government autopsy will occur. His family understands that the investigation is tangled amid international red tape, and they know from Brian that patience is a diplomatic virtue.

Adkins grew up in Whitehall. He graduated from Whitehall-Yearling High School, where his love for language, political science and world affairs took hold. He was a devout Catholic and fourth-degree Knight of Columbus.

He received undergraduate and graduate degrees from George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and had traveled extensively long before taking his two-year State Department post in Addis Ababa last summer.

Since his death, e-mails from people he knew around the world have found their way to the Adkins family.

“Every country he’s visited, he gained a friend,” Mike Adkins said.

Adkins worked in the consular section of the embassy, handling passports and paperwork while hoping to move up to big-picture issues such as U.S. economic diplomacy.

The weekend of his death, he was to report to the embassy in Rwanda for six weeks.

Adkins had been looking forward to the trip. Though he was excited about the work, he’d told his family about a jungle preserve for gorillas. It would cost him $1,000 to see them, he’d said.

Another country, another experience. To him, it was worth every penny.

“He was like a sponge,” said his mother. “He was infectious.”

17 Responses to “Ethiopia arrests suspect in U.S. diplomat’s death”


  1. 1 Frank Feb 5th, 2009 at 6:07 pm

    I was only fortunate enough to meet him once, but he Brian was funny, personable and an all around great guy. We have all lost quite a lot with Brian’s passing to a better place. His family and his many many friends are all in my thoughts and prayers.

  2. 2 EAM Feb 5th, 2009 at 7:39 pm

    He used to come into my cafe in DC all the time. Am in shock to hear this. Was one of the nicest, most genuine, kind, honest etc etc etc men I have ever known. I’ll miss you buddy.

  3. 3 Ricky M Feb 5th, 2009 at 8:37 pm

    From your Softball Brother and Sister in Ohio.

    We are so Blessed to have Great Men and Lady that decide to serve others, and put it all on the line for them they serve.

    Church Hill said it best and I don’t think anyone will ever say it better. Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.

    Yes Brain you have join the rank of the “so few”. You paid the highest price.

    Only you and them that have went before you, and there family can truly understand how high a price you paid to serve.

    Rest in Peace
    Brain Adkins

  4. 4 Meseret H. Woldeleuel Feb 5th, 2009 at 8:50 pm

    This is a very sad news. As as an Ethiopian, as a human being, my sincere condolences to the family of this brave and promising young man. As a father of 26th year old myself, I can only imagine the loss. My heart goes out to you.

    As a naturalized American citizen I raise my voice for a complete, open, transparent, and immediate investigation and report on what exactly happened to an American diplomat in Ethiopia. The burden of proof is on the Ethiopian government.

    As someone who was born and raised in Ethiopia, I am ashamed of this news. Ethiopia was never known as a place where diplomats get killed. Never.

    Secretary of State Hillary Clinton should telephone the Foreign Minster of Ethiopia and demand an open investigation. President Obama should call Meles Zenawi and demand answers.

    Once again my condolences to the family and friends of Brian Adkins.

  5. 5 Brian Feb 6th, 2009 at 11:26 am

    Reading about this young man and about his death was very much a shock.

    Why take a life of someone who made such an effort to make a difference in the world? Such a depraved world we live in that the people who truly want to make a difference are purposely targeted and often killed for their efforts.

    I am reminded of a scripture verse: “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13) ASV

    The people of Ethiopia truly lost not only a diplomat, but a friend and someone who truly cared and loved them. Though it cost him his life.

    My condolences to the family and extended family of this brave and obviously selfless individual.

    And may God have Mercy on those who did this act.

  6. 6 W. Beyene Feb 6th, 2009 at 3:29 pm

    Sad news for his family and friends !!! My deepest sympathy goes to the parents.

  7. 7 L. Pittman Feb 7th, 2009 at 11:24 pm

    This truly saddens my heart. My family and I are adopting two beautiful children from Ethiopia and our case made it to court and passed but the government is not wanting to issue the orphanage that took care of my children their new license, so the judge has a hold on our paperwork while our children have to wait indefinitely. I know Mr. Adkins was probably trying to help the country of Ethiopia just as we are trying to provide a home for two of God’s most precious gifts in the world. The world is not fair to those people who truly care about human life. I pray that justice will be served to whoever felt like it was their place to take another human beings life!!

  8. 8 mertolemariam Feb 7th, 2009 at 11:48 pm

    My sincere condolences to the family of Brian Adkins. As a parent I can feel their pain.

    I do not know Mr. Adkins and he may be selfless and that he did want to serve humanity when he joined the American Foreign Force.

    However, I respectfully differ with the assumption that all who go to developing countries are slefless and are there to serve and to “make a difference in the world”.

    Again my sincere condolences.
    ML

  9. 9 Charles H. Feb 9th, 2009 at 11:09 am

    Brian and I were classmates in grad school at GW before joining the Foreign Service in the same starting class, in July 2007. Brian was so excited about this work, so smart, so talented, and so very giving of self right to the very end. We are devastated by this loss — we lost a dear, dear friend, and the world lost a very promising and dedicated diplomat.

  10. 10 a colleague Feb 9th, 2009 at 11:58 am

    To mertolemariam: You may not have met very many Foreign Service Officers, but I have, and I can assure you that the men and women serving our government in the Foreign Service (Please note the word SERVICE — there’s no such thing as an American Foreign Force) do indeed go into this type of work because they want to serve their country and make a difference in this world. They do so no matter who’s in the White House, because they believe in core American values and want to make the world a better place. They don’t do it for the salary or the prestige. How do I know this? Because I’m a Foreign Service Officer, too. Brian was a brave American at the start of what should have been a long and rich career, and his death is not just a loss for his friends and family, but for our nation as a whole.

  11. 11 Kidist Feb 10th, 2009 at 11:12 am

    To mertolemariam: Don’t you think your comment is petty? I hope everybody who is not Ethiopian doesn’t think that we are ungrateful people.

    My deepest condolence to Brian’s family,I met Brian in G.W and he was a very nice person.

    R.I.P Brian.

  12. 12 Friend of the Adkins Family Feb 11th, 2009 at 4:30 am

    My condolences goes out to the Brian’s family. They are very kind, giving, loving family. I am saddened to hear of such a loss to our world. You are in my heart and prayers. May god bless you and help you through these difficult times.

  13. 13 bereket Feb 11th, 2009 at 5:30 am

    I deeply feel sorry about what happen. My heart goes out to his family and to all who knows him. whoever did this, hope the cops would get him soon.

  14. 14 Azzam Ahmed Mohammed Feb 11th, 2009 at 6:03 am

    We are all saddened by the death of the diplomat in our home land. My deepest condolences to the family and friends of Brian Adkins. I am glad the suspect is arrested and I hope he will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

  15. 15 Susan Reed Feb 12th, 2009 at 10:40 pm

    We are so sorry and our deepest sympathies are with the family. I can only imagine how you must feel: our daughter is to be posted there in July for her first assignment. Brian emailed her shortly before his death was reported. The fact that he took the time to answer her questions shows that he was a caring person. You will be in our thoughts and prayers.

  16. 16 WTF May 1st, 2009 at 4:47 pm

    Why do we send diplomats abroad without some protection? At the very least he should have been issued an M9 9mm pistol.

  17. 17 Zeru Jul 19th, 2009 at 3:40 pm

    My sincere condolences to both families. But I think young Ethiopians have to learn in todays society we are facing differnt culture and life styles. So instead of killing it should be a wise idea to avoid that person since we are not in the same page.

    Zeru
    Denver,Colorado

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